Leaders from the worlds of finance, technology and public policy are coming to central Arkansas next week for a summit focused on financial technology, or fintech.
The second annual Venture Center Fintech Summit is a two-day affair seeking to bridge the gaps between tech startups and enterprise-scale financial customers. Venture Center Executive Director Arthur Orduña says the goal is to bring banks and startups together to accelerate new product development.
“It brings together in Little Rock for two days national, regional, state and local leaders in financial technology,” he said. “We’re bringing in regulators, we’re bringing in folks from national and regional banks, we’re bringing in leading fintech technology platform providers globally.”
Speakers will include Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Republican U-S Congressman French Hill, as well as several other officials from government, financial services and technology sectors. Orduña says it was important to include speakers from the regulatory side of the fintech industry.
“Policy and technology are intertwined with regard to fintech, so it’s incomplete, in our opinion, to have just a view on technology and to have just a view on business owners,” Orduña said. “You have to have that third leg of the stool, which is the policy and legislative leaders.”
Orduña says the Venture Center is uniquely situated to bring the programs to Little Rock, which is known for its role in helping to found the burgeoning fintech industry. He says the center’s accelerator programs offer unique support to startups seeking to connect with large financial institutions early on in their development.
“We actually begin with potential enterprise-scale customers of these fintech companies, work with them first, identify through them the challenges, opportunities and problem sets they are looking for, and we use that as the requirements to go out and curate globally, and locally, these fintech companies.”
An abridged version of their accelerator programs, taking the form of a “speed dating” event, will also seek to match tech startups with new potential customers, Orduña says.
“A fintech provider is going to be able to meet a ton of different banks pretty quickly, and a banker is going to be able to meet a ton of different fintechs pretty quickly,” Orduña said. “If they decide after their quick interaction there’s something there that they want to dig in deeper, we’ve got meeting rooms set up for those companies to pair off— I don’t want to get too risqué here—and hopefully get into a deeper relationship.”
Little Rock has a long history with fintech, beginning with the founding of what later became multinational fintech company FIS in 1968. FIS works together with the Venture Center on an accelerator program, which last year saw more than $550 million raised across all cohort companies.
The VenCent Summit is set for Aug. 14 and 15 at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock.