Novathon has evolved from a hackathon for new technologies into a conference focused on innovation and culture transformation. This year, the Intesa Sanpaolo event took place in Budapest and welcomed the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, to share his knowledge.
As one of the initiators of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the mastermind behind the personal computer that we all use today, Wozniak is the person to give perspective and insight.
AI, blockchain, crypto, micro-payments, regtech and insurtech are all making banks more consumer-oriented. But is it all positive? Data scandals in the tech industry at large cast a bad light, but Wozniak says it is only our way of using technologies that makes them bad or good.
“To me the most important good in the world is truth and if you hide a lot of how your company and your products really work, to me that’s bad. That’s not good for the world at all.”
What about AI? As an early technology pioneer, Wozniak can cut through the hype. “I’m sorry, we claim that we are going to make a brain, but we don’t know how the brain works. We do not know how it is structured and wired. Maybe it is just too complex for us to know these things,” Wozniak says. “If machines ever did get creative and have consciousness, they would know their own kind more than us humans.”
“It’s really the digital world where change happens more than ever before”
One incredible thing about technology today, he believes, is the pace of change, even within the lifetime of one device, such as a smartphone. This contrasts with other consumer technologies. “In the old days you owned something like a vacuum cleaner, you put it into a closet, and you had it for 40 years and it didn’t change,” Wozniak says. “It’s really the digital world where change happens more than ever before.”
Maurice Lisi, Head of Multichannel and CRM in Intesa Sanpaolo, agrees. “What has changed in my job is that we have had to focus more and more on delivering quality. Delivering simple mobile banking was a great story; now it’s not good enough.” Reinventing the whole experience is Lisi’s focus and bringing together the finest minds in tech to share knowledge through Novathon is the way to do that.
“What has changed in my job is that we have had to focus more and more on delivering quality. Delivering simple mobile banking was a great story; now it’s not good enough.”
Pál Simák, chairman-CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo’s Hungarian subsidiary, CIB Bank, believes this is exactly why Novathon is crucial: so that banking can keep up. Banks are being forced to adapt in line with everything else that technology has transformed, such as entertainment, retail, even social interaction.
“It’s increasingly difficult to figure out what the next trend may be, who the big players are. With these kinds of interactions, where knowledge and information sharing are key, industry can benefit the most from this situation,” Simák says. “The fact that Steve Wozniak has chosen to come to Hungary and specifically for this Novathon event, is a great testament to the fact that we are on the right track.”
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