An afternoon of Japanese open innovation and karaoke

Whilst everyone else went to immerse themselves in the latest PFM technology – or is it robo-advisory this year – at Finovate Europe, I decided to head to NTT DATA’s Open Innovation Contest Finalist Pitch Day hosted by Innovate Finance at nearby Level 39. NTT DATA not only operates in the banking and finance space but also realises projects such as the digitalisation of the Vatican library.

The contest is open to business ideas and applications related to the challenges posted by NTT DATA group companies across the world. Challenges which are not only related to FinTech as I found out later. The winner of the London contest will move on to the global round in Japan in March. Given that NTT invests $1.8 billion annually in R&D, certainly a good place to be.

While Zamma san from NTT Data demonstrated his singing abilities, we were introduced to the contestants. As you will see, not only FinTech companies. Yet, interesting to see how blockchain gets applied outside the FinTech space. So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. DreamQuark: Artificial intelligence as a service for insurance and health.
  2. City Falcon Limited: The Spotify of financial news. For people who can’t use Google.
  3. Everledger: Blockchain ledger protecting valuable assets throughout their lifetime. Be sure that bottle of Margaux 2001 is the real deal.
  4. GiPStech Srl: Indoor localisation app using a combination of inertial, geo-magnetic and RF signals. Never get lost in an underground car park again.
  5. Like Facebook but with cold storage and privacy and without ads. For people with lots of grand-parents.
  6. Money Mover: White labelled international payments solution for banks.
  7. Oval Money: PFM for the financial illiterate.
  8. RiskSave Technologies: Robo-advisor with less risk and cheaper.
  9. Sedicii Innovations Limited: Protecting your identity. On a blockchain. With API’s.
  10. Tallysticks: Payday loans for small businesses.
  11. Wirex limited: Bitcoin debit card with 400k users.

Each contestant had 10 minutes to pitch their idea. I always find these things to be a bit like karaoke, without a drink. You’re up there, trying not to make a fool of yourself and the audience is supportive and more than forgiving.

And the winner is … Everledger.

A bit surprising that the winner is not a FinTech company but an interesting afternoon nonetheless.