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Introducing the Fintech AI Review!
The latest news and commentary on the intersection of AI and Fintech
Financial services matter. We rely on them to store and safeguard our assets, to transact on a daily basis, to invest for the future, and to finance our dreams and aspirations. For the institutions who offer these products, doing so is a highly quantitative and technical discipline with many qualitative outcomes, deeply intertwined with every facet of society. Every financial instrument ultimately involves a person or business. Every financial result is the outcome of people taking real actions in the real world. Indeed, credit is the way that modern societies express confidence in the future, with people, businesses, and governments making commitments today based upon a vision of tomorrow that they intend to materialize. The coming wave in AI has the potential to revolutionize the already important interplay between humans and machines, affecting how people live and plan their lives and how businesses build and facilitate economic growth. With this comes many important conversations that go beyond technological advancement and delve into what it means to be human, what it means to have agency.
This newsletter aims to be at the forefront of these advancements, the implications in financial services, and what it means for humanity. At what feels like the beginning of such a potentially dynamic era, it is easiest for some to consider risks, downsides, and the potential for what could be lost. However, the potential for positive change is even greater, and this newsletter will have a generally optimistic and tech-positive orientation.
At first, this newsletter will chronicle the most interesting Fintech/AI news from the past week, along with some concise commentary. In the future, we may expand to essays, interviews, and other media formats (e.g. podcasts, video). It will be free for the foreseeable future - please consider subscribing. I’m excited to explore fintech, AI, and visions of our shared future together!
P.S. Any opinion I express in this newsletter is solely mine and does not represent that of my employer or any other party. Furthermore, my strategy is to integrate a wide range of content and perspectives, including those with whom I may not partially or fully agree. Reading and engaging with multiple perspectives makes us all stronger! Links do not equal endorsement.
Latest news and commentary
Joanna Stern at the WSJ worked with AI tools like ElevenLabs and Synesthesia to create highly-credible impersonations of herself that successfully bypassed Chase’s voice biometric authentication system. These tools are only going to improve, and every financial institution needs to proceed with the assumption that this is already happening.
Bari Weiss interviews OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on the Honestly Pod. While not directly fintech-related, it’s a wide-ranging, thought-provoking discussion from a very good generalist interviewer with the man at the center of the present moment in AI.
Incredibly detailed and thoughtful piece by Karen Webster on the long arc of voice as a medium for financial services transactions. It’s a good example of “living in the future and filling in the blanks” and is really worth a close read. I’m encouraged by all the possibilities for high-quality voice AI, from the transformational to the mundane. I know I’d pay for a bot that solves what I call the “I just want to pay you” problem, wherein a consumer has to spend hours on the phone with a bank, hotel, airline, etc. to solve a seemingly routine matter made complex by a large company’s own systems.
DoNotPay’s Josh Browder set up AutoGPT to automate portions of his financial life. The bot apparently identified and canceled unused subscriptions, negotiated with Comcast to lower his bill, and identified opportunities to improve his credit score though writing disputes to the bureaus. Personally, it would be a while before I’m comfortable using a hallucination-prone LLM to automate financial moves of any real consequence, but the examples here provide some interesting potential use cases. On the other side of this, it will be interesting to see if companies do anything to safeguard themselves against consumers who use a bot to dispute every single transaction in the hopes of getting a discount/refund.
Ocrolus (disclaimer: I work at Ocrolus) announced the incorporation of GPT embeddings from OpenAI into its extensive suite of document automation technologies. In addition to tech from Google, Amazon, and now OpenAI, Ocrolus has developed its own computer vision and NLP models, trained on its extensive document dataset of hundreds of millions of pages combined with its in-house data labeling capabilities. This combination of off-the-shelf models plus purpose-built AI is powerful when building solutions for particular B2B verticals, and Ocrolus has used this to cater to lenders in small business, mortgage, personal, and other markets.
Last time I got a mortgage, my contact at the mortgage company congratulated me for being so organized with my documentation, that underwriting took only……45 days! This is a market that can benefit from automation in a massive way, and it’s good to see a roundup of various companies experimenting with or integrating AI into their products.
Matt Lucas from Goldman shares a short video about how most value will be created by humans working with AI, rather than AI actually replacing their jobs.
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