Fidelity Investments, the Boston-based fund company, is becoming a leader in blockchain technology, investing billions of dollars on that and other cutting-edge technologies.
According to a report in CNBC citing Fidelity, billions of dollars are going toward Fidelity blockchain, Fidelity AI and Fidelity VR. Executives told CNBC Fidelity wants to be considered an Nvidia alternative, not compared to the likes of Charles Schwab, and thus the technology push. Earlier in September at a presentation, Fidelity chief executive Abigail Johnson highlighted the fact the company has been doing FinTech since before FinTech was cool. The company has the firepower to grow in the tech markets. CNBC noted that operating profits at partner company FMR increased 54 percent in 2017 with revenue topping $18.2 billion. Revenue was up 13.7 percent year-over-year, noted CNBC. Fidelity ended last year with $6.8 trillion in investor assets under administration, which marked a 19 percent increase from the year earlier. Since the end of last year, CNBC noted that assets have reached $7 trillion.
Fidelity recently has been highlighting its Fidelity Labs where the company works on cutting edge technology and ways to make finances more fun. “If you're running Fidelity.com, no one wants to hear ‘we failed today,’ or call a call center and hear ‘oh sorry, they're out innovating,’” said Sean Belka, the head of Fidelity Labs, in an interview with CNBC. “We had to create a safe space, essentially for failure. That's what the labs is.”
Workers in the lab subscribe to a “fail fast and fail early” mantra so that they don’t waste too much time or energy on projects that won’t be hits. If the project proves to be promising, Fidelity will run test programs with their own associates before testing with customers, noted the report. Take AI as one example: Fidelity is using machine learning to improve the experience for customers by trying to predict what information they want even before they know. The AI technology makes it possible for the identity of a customer calling into a call center to be verified within one second. The company’s chatbot, Cora, also comes from Fidelity’s AI efforts.