Fidelity Information Services, one of the world’s largest banking technology companies, provides the back-end software and financial services technologies for 20,000 clients in 130 countries. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, FIS’ main clients are banks. The company runs a Little Rock-based startup accelerator program, which just selected its second class of mentees.
Rob Lee, chief product officer for banking and payments and a mentor for the financial technology accelerator program, spoke to Tearsheet about the biggest issues affecting banking, what motivates the company to support startups through its accelerator program, and the biggest trends affecting the industry. Here are excerpts, edited for clarity.
What’s the biggest issue banks face with the proliferation of startups developing competing lines of business?
The biggest challenge is the distraction of the discussion over disruption. Banks are every day faced with what are they doing with new technologies how are they blocking disruptors or embracing disruptors. I don’t think that our bank clients are being impacted from a transaction perspective with disruptors going into their business.
What’s the biggest bottleneck affecting how banks operate today?
The biggest problem is that the information [about customers] tends to be siloed across the organizations.
Is the purpose of your startup accelerator program to allow others to build software products that can seamlessly interact with bank platforms run by FIS?
We bring 10 new companies that are building things around the financial services world. All those apps need data and customer information to drive their value proposition and our API gateway provides a way to build on top of that.
So you’re really looking for startups that can partner with the banks?
We invest in research and development and innovation and startup companies not in the accelerator — the accelerator is just one way to do that. [The startups] are really pushing the envelope; for example, we have a company called Alpharank, and they’re using the Facebook social graph paradigm and applying that to financial services.
Is there a trend that is overhyped or has lost your attention?
There was a lot of hype about blockchain a year ago when it was seen as a panacea, and we’ve seen that subside somewhat. We’ve seen a lot of public proof of concepts, a lot of consortiums, and not much actually happening to manage real transactions.
What’s the next big thing?
You’ll see massive changes in the use of voice as an input. Today Siri and Alexa are about 95 percent accurate — there is some latency in that but in the next few years, with all the investment, it’s predicted that it will get to 99 percent accuracy with close to zero latency.