On Tuesday 25 February 2020, we hosted a FinTech for AI event on behalf of FinTech Wales and co-sponsor Confused.com. In our latest post, Gavin Powell, their General Secretary, reflects on the event.
It was one of those great moments where all the hard work that’s happening with FinTech in Wales suddenly makes sense and you get to see a really positive outcome.
We were fortunate enough to bring together a group of skilled, talented, expert, articulated and passionate people to present on everything AI in FinTech. And it was a privilege to do so for the benefit of all those interested in this important topic.
The lecture theatre room in Cardiff Business School’s Postgraduate Teaching Centre was full of people all with a common interest in Artificial Intelligence from major FinTech companies, directors of large FTSE 100 financial services organisations, senior government officials, local home grown and scaling AI enterprises and a healthy smattering of academics and next generation start-ups.
It was, for us as organisers, the perfect ingredients that ensured a great and impactful event for all.
Back to the origins
The day opened with a presentation from Arman Eshraghi, Professor of Finance at Cardiff Business School.
He gave a great overview of AI and how it’s related and used in FinTech, taking us back to the origins of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning from the great Claude Shannon.
This was an ideal start to warm up the audience and really set the scene for the rest of the day.
Following Professor Eshraghi, was Alun Preece, Professor of Intelligent Systems from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics. His energy and passion for AI can only be matched by the length of service he has committed to the subject.
This has given him experience that’s hard to match and it was great that he was able to share some of that with us.
Professor Preece took us on a deeper journey of where AI is at present and gave insight into his work on Human-AI collaboration.
As Associate Director of Global Innovation at the big consulting firm EY, Anna Fink is well placed to talk on AI in FinTech; particularly given the number of companies that EY work with on a regular basis.
It was so insightful to hear the perspective of consultants on how FinTech, Financial Services and Consultancy firms can work together effectively to better harness technologies such as AI.
Practical experience is always a great way to learn good lessons.
Pete Burnap, Professor of Data Science and Cybersecurity also from Cardiff University’s School of Computer Sciences and Informatics, continued the broader morning theme from Anna, by focusing on how AI is used within to cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is an ever more important factor of the FinTech community. And, raising awareness on it to encourage its addition by design from the outset is a positive for the sector.
On top of his role at Cardiff University, Professor Burnap is also the Director of the Airbus Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics. The centre works across industry, academia and government to provide a focus for cyber security analytics in the UK.
Finishing the morning session was Lucy Young, Business Intelligence Manager at Amplyfi.
Amplyfi is definitely one of the rising star companies in AI in Wales. Keep an eye on them and see how they grow in the future!
Lucy shared experiences and knowledge from Amplyfi who as a relatively new SME have very much walked the walk of acquiring a client base through Deep Web information and intelligence gathering products.
Lunch was taken in Cardiff Business School’s Executive Education Suite.
It’s a great space used for events and teaching, and allowed attendees to network while enjoying a more informal lunchbreak with a series of great demos from:
- Mathworks – whose MATLAB tool I spent many hours using at Airbus for rapid prototyping of AI next generation products.
- Amplyfi – Lucy showed how it’s possible to look deeper into the web for information and intelligence.
- Senseforth AI – who discussed the bot-based products they’re developing through Natural Language Processing and are ranking in the top 5 worldwide in terms of performance of those products.
Ethical, transparent and auditable
The afternoon session was more focused on how AI can be more ethical, transparent and auditable with a rationale of how we can regulate the area better to futureproof what the FinTech sector is doing with AI and ensure the best path is taken.
First up was the charismatic Symon Garfield, Digital Strategy Advisor from Microsoft.
Working with a multitude of other companies through Microsoft, it was enlightening to hear how ethics and responsibilities should be included with AI and its development, and how that fits in with our financial services sector.
It’s great to see major tech companies like Microsoft pushing forward in areas like this.
Following on nicely from Symon was Katherine Browne, part of the Innovate Leadership Team at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
They’re playing a pivotal role in developing the FCA’s approach to innovation.
Katherine gave insights into how data and ethics are regarded by the FCA and how we can start to think about how AI is applied in financial services products in the future. It was clear that this is very much an area of interest to the FCA.
The final talk of the day was from our expert on explainable AI and delivered by Richard Tomsett of the Emerging Technology team at IBM.
Richard has many years researching and applying ways that allow AI to be better interpreted.
He showed us some of the pitfalls of AI and how we can overcome them to make it better and more transparent so that we can understand how and why it makes the decisions that it does.
Rounding off the day we had a panel session and were joined by Andy Brockway Chief Technology Officer of Confused.com and Dave Braines the Chief Technology Officer of Emerging Technology for IBM.
We discussed the next big changes in AI, how its regulation will impact the sector and the challenges organisations are facing in its application.
Finally, we took questions from the crowd. A favourite of mine was: “What one thing would you like to apply AI to?” with some rewarding answers from all of our panellists.
It was great to see such an engaged crowd taking in the knowledge the presenters shared. From our side, as organisers, it was especially great to see such a varied set of people in the crowd, and not focused purely on the technical side of AI and its development, but also on the ethical and regulatory side which are equally as important.
Thank you once again to all attendees, presenters, Cardiff Business School, the Executive Education Team and Confused.com for helping us make this happen.
We’ve had various comments and activity around the day on social media, but one unsolicited piece of feedback which sums them all up quite nicely is:
“I did not have a chance to chat to you today but wanted to say I really enjoyed the AI day today. I usually have to travel to London to get such an informative session and it was nice to have one on my doorstep… Thank you for a good day and I will be attending again.”
Gavin Powell is General Secretary for FinTech Wales.
This post was originally published on the FinTech Wales website.
Watch the entire event on FinTech Wales’ YouTube Channel.