Ashley Madison and FinTech trends… Or A.I. for dummies

Taking back an old habit, I am writing from the plane after 48 hours in Tel Aviv, where I attended the great opening of the local FinTech Hub, The Floor, witnessing yet another bold project bridging Israeli (Fin)tech and Asia investments. (The largest investor in the initiative is Chinese).
A few people are talking about is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and the application in the FinTech space are extremely interesting. I actually did study AI at the university back 1992 I believe, but I suppose it s like comparing the MacBookAir with the Commodore 64 (but I only ever had the first one, I could not even judge :))
More people than will ever admit to be are aware of Ashley Madison website, the portal for extra-marital affairs. It s also (maybe not as famous as the Panama papers saga, but certainly more interesting to talk about) one of the most media reported hacks, of personal data in the digital area. What is REALLY interesting though is that the released data revealed not only a huge disproportion between male and female profiles (like 95% versus 5%) but also the fact that a good chunk of the females were allegedly fake, and managed by a (ro)bot. Tribute to one off my smartest friends, Ruth Polacheck, who gave me the inspiration for this and made me think of a fun way to tell the story.
A bot.
The proof that artificial intelligence is real and about to become mainstream.
Basic bots exist since decades already (after all we new something about it in Computer Science, it all started with the Turing Machine, right?) but only recently their use (and power) has started to expand.
A lot of us might have encountered Amy, the appointment scheduling bot, pretty smart in setting up calls and meetings without human intervention, or the simple Twitter bots that are automatically retweeting or like scoring to basic rules. Not very sophisticated, but you get the idea.
What A.I. has to do with FinTech and where are the use cases, beside cheating the cheaters and save some PA time?
Think of any repetitive tasks at various degrees of complexity, and the opportunity to delegate seamlessly and virtually reducing handover time to zero.
AI could be the building block of one of the biggest revolutions in the B2B space, especially in the SME arena.
Let me give you a concrete example : I have a small business, with basic accounting and the smallest the company the more structured the entrepreneur need to be in order to make sure the reporting, the bookkeeping and ultimately the tax filing don’t become the biggest nightmare ever.
There are hundreds of tools allowing you to scan receipts, file them, plenty of which I used and tried, but ultimately it s actually faster to put all papers in an envelope and ask someone to be the intermediary between you and the accountant.
What does not work is the fact that there is still a lot of human intervention, even if it means me scanning or taking a picture of the restaurant ticket.
The moment has come where smart bots can actually pull most of the stuff people is receiving through different channels, combine it with an ever-learning engine you can teach new things to, and they can become your best ally. To you and your (small) business, which is the market everyone is looking to crack.
We are likely to talk about this topic in of the next FinTechStage conferences, showcasing the first startups in this space.
Stay Tuned
Matteo