What to expect at Boston Fintech Week this year

Entering its sixth year, Boston Fintech Week 2023 is taking place at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston between October 10th and 13th, including a two-day ticketed event hosted by Fintech Sandbox on October 11 and 12.

In anticipation of the flagship regional event, The Financial Revolutionist interviewed Sarah Biller, Co-Founder of Fintech Sandbox, to learn more about key features defining Boston Fintech Week this year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Financial Revolutionist: Tell us about the overarching theme this year, “On the Brink.”

Sarah Biller: For those long in financial services, the idea of “on the brink” conflates thoughts of something important, terrible, or, as is the case today, transformative. In all cases, it requires thoughtful action.

As a result, we think “On the Brink” is an appropriate siren call for Boston Fintech Week, given that, seemingly overnight, we have much more clarity on the impact of fintech entrepreneurs’ decade-long work to remake the rails, pipes, or infrastructure of the global financial services industry.

By enabling everything from ChatGPT, to FedNow’s real-time payment capabilities, to the growing ubiquity of Banking-as-a-Service and fintech in general, the risks are real and the opportunities are boundless. Yet, an evolution of this magnitude in the core systems—or infrastructure—of financial services likely means the significance is not clear to all, and maybe even not to the builders.

What makes this year different from others?

Since 2017, Fintech Sandbox has been convening entrepreneurs, industry innovators, academics, and investors—and, at times, a few thoughtful regulators—to discuss, debate, and collaborate on the most current efforts transforming financial services. Last year, just as people were getting back in the grove after the height of the pandemic, we had over 1,000 attendees from 40+ states and 28 countries. Over 145 speakers explored the uncertainty as well as opportunity for fintech in a world just exiting a global health crisis, at war, and split on the health of the economy.

That said, though, this year stands out more for me than any other Boston Fintech Week because we have seen the start of a period of discontinuous innovation in financial services. These new-to-industry products and services leverage novel and different technologies, drive different customer behavior, and open new markets for fintech.

At Boston Fintech Week, we’re taking on the difficult challenge of bringing together the builders and investors behind the infrastructure for this bold new financial future and figuring out what it means.

This year is different. We’re seeing the earliest indications of a powerful new infrastructure for financial services that will fundamentally change the way we build, transact, authenticate and include, among other activities.

What can you tell us about Boston Fintech Week’s programming and venue in 2023?

We are chin-deep in speaker conversations and will be sharing names later in the month. In between, we have confirmed that we will be back at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for our keynote conversations. The Bank has been a long-term supporter of our efforts at Fintech Sandbox. We’re also pleased to see tremendous engagement from our community partners to host panels and fireside chats that expand learning opportunities.

It also goes without saying that we’re looking forward to the evening parties, breakfasts and other networking opportunities that are being planned during Boston Fintech Week.

What are your goals for this year?

Our origin story at Fintech Sandbox influences how we put together Boston Fintech Week. For almost a decade, Fintech Sandbox has removed the obstacles entrepreneurs face building next-generation products and services for financial services by providing free access to high-quality, much needed datasets.

We see firsthand the impact this work makes on our entrepreneurs and the transformative innovations that can happen when we bring them together with large data providers and industry partners.

Boston Fintech Week is a natural extension of our effort to do more good for an industry we deeply believe has the power to build a more resilient world, and understand that this often happens one start-up at a time. Our goals at Boston Fintech Week are to ask thought-provoking questions, share our knowledge as well as our networks, and enable a couple thousand of our closest friends to do the same.