Benzinga's Fintech Focus Podcast features conversations with the biggest names in fintech. Subscribe to the Fintech Focus newsletter to get a roundup of industry news delivered to your inbox weekly, and check out upcoming programming at Benzinga events.
The Fintech Focus podcast takes a look at the burgeoning world of fintech—as per usual—but through another lens. Typically, when people think of fintech, they think of the technology behind it, which makes sense. But what about the actual people behind it who bring the myriad of moving technological parts together?
In this episode we chat with Tom Eck, Chief Technology Officer at IBM Watson IBM. What Tom does on a daily basis is sniff out fintech startups and see how IBM Watson can be of service to their operations. From payment platforms to brokerages to anything in between, Tom looks for ways to bring a human touch to fintech, helping to build one relationship at a time.
So, let's talk about your day to day workload aside from the days where you spend coding like yesterday. Is your day to day job essentially to just go out and look for companies and figure out how to work with them?
So, there's really two products I have been building at IBM. The first one that's kind of the business case was already there, and they were looking for somebody to kind of lead the actual execution of it, is this what we call the IBM Cloud for Financial Services. And the idea there is how do we have a focused offering for financial services developers, right? So, they're not looking through the 50,000 different part numbers that we have in our catalog, but rather we tell them "These are the things you should be interested as a modern financial services developer."
So, we built out this platform on IBM Cloud with ... it's a set of tools, so it's your typical kind of microservice starter kit, you say I want to create a new service, you give it a name, you click a button and it spits out kind of the framework for a microservice. You click another button it wires up a devops tool chain, that kind of thing. So, starting with those low-level enabling tools, and by the way to me if you're not having an API first mentality, I'd really like to understand why you're not. That would be a good debate over a beer or something like that because if you're not building APIs first ... in other words, rather than building a UI and then figuring out how to attach a backend to it, you start by saying "What services do I want to offer?"
So, if you're working the gamut here, you're working with companies across the industry, in 2019, what has you most excited? What within fintech are you most excited about?
I think that an interesting trend that's going to play out is the fintechs themselves being disrupted. We've already seen companies like Amazon have obviously shown interest in offering banking services, which by the way makes some of our banking clients nervous. I think big tech moving into financial services offerings, that's coming, and that's going to disrupt obviously the incumbent financial services institutions, but I believe fintechs as well. That's one source.
Another source is the banks themselves. The banks now have had a couple years to kind of contemplate what are the fintechs doing that we're not doing, and can we copy a couple pages from their playbook? I think the banks are being forced into figuring out how to be more agile and how to be more customer experience driven. I think that's a huge theme as well, is the banks need to stop thinking about digital transformation in terms of how many systems they have transformed or upgraded or consolidated. Think about it in terms of the number of customer journeys that have been transformed.
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