B2B Payments

In FinTech, The Race for Patents (And More)

Patents are the lifeblood of innovation, innovation the lifeblood of FinTech. In the race for FinTech-related patents, it seems tech firms are leading banks. Elsewhere, the U.K. garners some headlines tied to cross-pollination between traditional financial players, AI and tech upstarts. No surprise, it’s all aimed at digitizing financial services. 

In technology, innovation, of course, is as critical as oxygen, fueling the “next big thing” and boosting top and bottom lines. And shoring up that “next big thing” comes with patent filings, part of the arsenal of protecting intellectual property, shepherding concept to reality.

And, according to Cipher, a data insights firm based in the United Kingdom, in FinTech, the patent race is one that is seeing some clear winners, among them large tech firms, with traditional banks trailing.

As noted on IPwatchdog.com, some of the marquee names in tech are snapping up patents that might help shape the course of financial services moving forward.

This is not to say that banks are sitting idly by, of course, for as the report and IPwatchdog.com note, Bank of America remains the leader of the pack. That company had more than 2,500 patents granted and pending last year. Of those, nearly 1,000 patent “families” were tied to banking IT, and more than 500 were linked to data processing technologies.

Yet compare that to the total of less than 4,700 patent families held by banks in total, and then compare that to activity by tech companies, and the race seems a bit lopsided. IBM has just under 24,000 FinTech patents in its roster. Microsoft has more than 19,600 patent families, where optical character recognition holds some sway.

A bit wider in scope, the August edition of the B2B API Tracker took note that banking APIs are “becoming especially prevalent” in the U.K. Among the more recent initiatives bowing in that region is Metrobank’s introduction of a designer portal that will let third parties create services that will rest on top of bank APIs.

This will allow for smoother introduction and integration with new services. In another example, open banking solution provider The ID Co. has announced a standardized banking API. The focus is on DirectID users, who can now connect to major U.K. banks, spanning HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group, among others.

The U.K. push comes even as the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (also known as the FCA) earlier this month heralded the creation of a global initiative, which is to be known as the Global Financial Innovation Network, to improve collaboration on FinTech efforts between companies, and among companies and regulators.

Moving Beyond the UK

Beyond the U.K., and in an example of cross-border FinTech pollination, the Singapore robo adviser Bambu has said it is partnering with U.S.-based DriveWealth in an effort to bring a white-labeled product to the U.S. that is focused on wealth management. Financial terms were not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, Bambu’s interface will be used in conjunction with devices across the mobile spectrum, tied to DriveWealth’s real-time, fractional share technologies. The latter company’s API suite allows for onboarding and ordering and reporting across U.S. stock markets. The Bambu platform allows for financial planning for consumers. The combination means that the end users will be able to manually adjust their portfolios and view simulated results.

In terms of individual company initiatives, finews.com took stock of Credit Suisse’s progress with its chatbot, Amelia, since its debut last year. The chatbot had been announced for internal use via the global service desk, said the site. Amelia helps bank staff with passwords and tech-related tasks that are in turn tied to roughly half of IT staff-related tasks. Since that late 2017 launch, the bot can work across 13 percent of all tasks, with a target rate of 40 percent. The technology, noted finews, recently was able to understand about 23 percent of requests and now can understand about 80 percent of requests.

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