The Santa Clara Convention Center in San Francisco Bay Area was abuzz with more than 5,000 attendees at Tie Inflect on May 4 and 5, which is one of the largest conferences in Silicon Valley for technology entrepreneurs organized by a nonprofit The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). The conference theme for this year was on human and business impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in areas such as FinTech, healthtech, and cybersecurity.
Ms. Anju Patwardhan, Managing Director with CreditEase FinTech VC Fund, delivered the keynote speech on the use of AI in FinTech titled “FinTech and AI: Myths and Realities.”
She is a globally ranked FinTech VC based in Silicon Valley and a former banker. She provided a compelling view of FinTech globally and delivered insights on AI reality with several use cases in financial services and on AI glam with humanoid robots such as Sophia and Pepper. In an interactive session, dotted with thought-provoking and humorous examples from all over the world, she also shared several examples of AI hype and myths in financial services.
CreditEase FinTech Fund has invested in several B2B companies that offer solutions for banks and FinTech companies using Artificial Intelligence. These include H20.ai – an open source machine learning platform that is being used by companies such as PayPal and Capital One; Active.ai – a conversational AI platform used by over five large banks in multiple countries across Asia and in Mexico; Onfido – used by over 1500 companies globally for identity verification using machine learning and facial biometrics; BioCatch – a cybersecurity company that delivers behavioral biometrics analyzing human-device interactions to mitigate online fraud; and True Accord – used by several banks and FinTech companies in the United States for collections using machine learning.
Ms. Patwardhan shared her perspective from her past experiences in global banking. Referring to trends in AI, she noted that the largest AI applications in financial services are the use of machine learning for fraud detection and credit risk assessment, and use of chatbots for account opening and servicing. Whether it’s the use of biometrics for video banking or for identity verification for Know-Your-Customer requirements for account opening, AI has enabled several useful applications in FinTech that have made digital services easier for consumers.
Facial recognition is the face of future for video banking. Sharing examples from all over the world, Ms. Patwardhan commented that China and the United States are global leaders in the use of AI. She shared several everyday examples of the use of AI in China such as use of facial recognition for policing and regulation in China: jaywalkers who may be fined for jaywalking, and police officers who may scan you in their database with their AI-enabled sunglasses. She shared an anecdote from her recent visit to Hangzhou, China earlier this year where an iPad like device scanned her face from a few feet at the hotel registration desk and tried to find her in the system. While it worked for her colleagues who are residents of China, it did not find her. Not in the database yet was the verdict!
Ms. Patwardhan highlighted that biometrics and digital identity can have vast positive implications to support financial inclusion as seen by use of ‘Aadhar’ digital identity in India.
Humanoid robots Pepper and Sophia from Japan and Hong Kong respectively were examples of the glitzy hype Ms. Patwardhan commented on. “One rolls its eyes cutely while greeting customers and the other has become the first humanoid to get citizenship of Saudi Arabia and gives high profile interviews with Will Smith!” she said.
While the FinTech industry has benefited significantly from the use of machine learning for credit scoring and fraud risk management using structured and unstructured data, she also cautioned on the privacy risks and highlighted the need for balance and security. She referred to Black Mirror, a Netflix series, as an extreme example of scoring. “Has anyone watched Black Mirror?” she asked. Many hands in the audience went up. “Quite a dystopian view there! And if you haven’t seen it yet, watch Season 3, episode 1!”
She also talked about the concept of technological singularity (man-machine convergence), data privacy and security, the impact of AI on jobs, and the need for debate on ethical issues related to AI.
Innovations, a part of the Silicon Valley culture, have an impact on society and collective views of an age or a technology. Ms. Patwardhan summed up popular views on future of humanity and AI, quoting Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, and Andrew Ng. She concluded the keynote speech with a measured approach and a positive note on the human-AI ecosystem. “AI will continue to grow and have many positive applications for people,” she said.