Future of Fintech on Display at HPC + AI Wall Street

By Alex Woodie, Tiffany Trader and Todd R. Weiss

September 17, 2020

Those who tuned in for Tuesday’s HPC + AI Wall Street event got a peak at the future of fintech and lively discussion of topics like blockchain, AI for risk management, and high-frequency trading, as told by a group of leading technical innovators as well as an SEC commissioner.

Previously scheduled to take place at the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, HPC + AI Wall Street was shifted to a full day of virtual meetings and keynotes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many virtual events these days rely on taped content, HPC + AI Wall Street organizers Tabor Communication, BluSky, and Flagg Management elected to combine live presentations with a rich immersive experience to deliver an event unlike any other. In parallel with the main agenda, the inaugural Women in FinServ lounge was held as a place for women in financial services to network, learn together, and collaborate.

Jem Pagán

Conference Chair Jem Pagán kicked things off with a reminder of the importance of fintech in our lives. And with one of every eight dollars spent on high performance computing (HPC) going towards the financial sector, according to Intersect 360’s Addison Snell, it’s tough to understate the impact that emerging fintech technologies will have in the years to come.

Take blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, for example. While these technologies have been around for nearly a decade and still have the air of novelty to them, ignore it at your own risk, said Sunayna Tuteja, the head of digital assets and blockchain for TD Ameritrade.

Sunayna Tuteja

“Similar to AI and machine learning, blockchain is still in its nascency,” Tuteja said during her morning keynote. “We’ve come a long way, but we forget that it’s only 10 years old. Bitcoin was born at the end of the last big crisis. And this is the first time it’s being stress-tested, in a way.”

Under Tuteja, TD Ameritrade has embraced cryptocurrency as a potentially useful investment vehicle for its clients. Just as TD Ameritrade was born out of the emergence of discount brokerages, it sees cryptocurrency as another opportunity to help lower the barriers of entry for new investors. Those who don’t recognize the changes will be left behind, she suggested.

“The delta between novelty and normality closes rapidly,” Tuteja said. “It’s no longer [acceptable] to be apathetic or ignorant about this asset class. So learn, educate yourself, make your own opinions. But you can no longer shrug this off.”

Hester M. Peirce

The Fintech movement is helping to transform the traditional financial services industries in ways both big and small. One person who’s hoping to usher the industry through this transformation in a responsible way is Hester M. Peirce, a commissioner with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“You obviously want the industry to take advantage of the latest technology,” Peirce told Chris Brummer, the co-founder of Fintech Beat, in a morning interview morning. “One fear that I have with a highly regulated industry is it’s easy for incumbents to say, hey, this is how we’ve always been doing things, and why should we change?…So I think that we are seeing some of that change actually seeping in.”

However, the reliance on a decentralized finance model, such as you get with blockchain and crowdfunding, does create some challenges for the SEC in its role as a market regulator, which has traditionally relied on gatekeepers to enforce regulations. “If you really do achieve decentralized finance, then you don’t have that intermediary to go to anymore, and I think that is a really challenging idea for us,” she said.

The SEC has adopted AI and machine learning technology to help it fulfill its mission, so is somewhat familiar with the emerging technologies driving fintech, according to Peirce, who seems to be one of the more forward-looking commissioners on the SEC panel. It’s unlikely that the decentralized cat will go back in the market bag, however, so Peirce supports the idea of pushing forward with emerging tech to achieve the necessary oversight.

“We need to recognize the fact that the reason our capital markets work is because knowledge and expertise and intelligence is dispersed and it’s different,” she said. “AI and ML…are built on this notion that information really is dispersed and the more of that that you can collect, the more you can see about what’s going on. But we sometimes as regulators forget there are a lot of smart people out there. They are just smart in different ways.”

Shahin Kahn

In a presentation about crypto innovation and the future of money Shahin Khan, an analyst and founding partner at research firm, OrionX, discussed the ongoing changes in global currencies as crypto continues to emerge and mature.

One of the discussions going on in the crypto marketplace is that there may be an over-reliance on the U.S. dollar as a global standard today, and that could lead to new ways of looking at currencies. But that will take time, he said.

“It’s really hard to change those sorts of standards,” said Kahn. “Is there any alternative? Well, if there is one, it will have to emerge in new growth areas. It’s really difficult to replace USD where it has been so entrenched in terms of systems and regulations and established methods. If there is one, it’s likely digital currency, like a CBDC (central bank digital currency) style, SDR-like (special drawing rights), a basket for money, but that really isn’t happening. There’s discussion, but I think it’s a bigger lift than one may assume.”

Eventually, these transformations will occur with cryptocurrencies, just like they did with the industrial revolution, the mechanization of agriculture and other changes in culture and economies, said Kahn. So, what will help make that happen in the future?

“I think, without question, it’s ease of use,” said Kahn. “A cryptocurrency is just so hard to use even after all the efforts that people have put in. And there are some very, very good efforts to try to make things simpler. There are new wallets coming in, new exchanges that are really nice to use, but even they are not so easy to use. I think that’s the number one item I would focus on.”

Charles Fan

As fintech spreads its wings, it generates data – a lot of data, according to Charles Fan, the co-founder and CEO of MemVerge. And much of that data will be moving very, very fast. The combination of the volume and velocity will stress the current generation of applications, including payment processing, trade monitoring, real time market data analytics, compliance, fraud detection, and high-frequency trading.

“By 2024, about one-quarter of the world’s data will need to be dealt with in real time,” Fan said during his presentation. “That means latencies that are in microseconds, or even nano seconds.”

To keep on top of that big, fast-moving data, fintech companies will need new infrastructure. In Fan’s opinion, the new class of persistent memory, or PRAM, such as Intel’s Optane technology, will give companies the capability to apply DRAM-like processing speeds but at disk-like scale.

“Persistent memory doesn’t replace [DRAM] but it extends the capacity of DRAM to lower the cost of the overall infrastructure,” Fan said. “Today on the street, you can get this persistent memory for half the price of DRAM. It’s a significant savings.”

A recurring theme during HPC + AI Wall Street was the existence of rapid change in technology. We are on the cusp of big changes in how we transact and deal with money, advises Ritesh Jain, the former COO and global head of digital technology foundation at HSBC. However, there’s a considerable amount of work to do before we fully realize the potential.

“Open finance is the future. Open banking is just the steppingstone, and it is opening up the doors,” he said. “Where it’s making a difference is consumers. We all are going to benefit from open finance. But it’s a long way to go, because the regulators and the governments need to work together.”

Ritesh Jain

Jain advocates a simple and open framework to get everybody on the same page. That will be a challenge, however, as different governments have different ideas on what standards to focus on. “Every economy needs to have a very clearly defined regulatory framework,” he said. “Because it is not limited to payments. It’s moving to mortgages, financial services, pensions.”

Fintech will allow banks to go from being “just a dumb pipe” to providing a richer array of services. The banks that are at the forefront of this trend of establishing an open banking platform will have the advantage.

But there are considerable hurdles to achieving the open finance future, Jain said. “It is all driven by one thing: consumer rights. Who owns the data?” he said. “This is still a question in the different geographies, and that’s one thing to be considered by banks very seriously.”

Companies that want to leverage fintech and embrace the marriage of AI and financial services would do well to treat their clients’ data as if it were gold, advises Nick Curcuru, a data scientist with Advanced Analytics Partners.

“If you can show that, if you share data with me, I can provide you more value for it, that customer is going to trust you,” Curcuru said. “Show that I’m protecting your data and information as if I’m protecting you the person.”

The nature of data has changed, and fintech adopters that respect the new rules of the road will have the advantage, he said. “I’m going to tell you, flat out, those zeros and ones in the digital space that we now have are people,” he said. “It’s their digital persona. It is who they are.”

That relentless focus on treating clients’ data well is backed up by the data. “What you’re seeing is those companies who’ve embrace that are seeing 8 percent to 12 percent more growth in their business than those who haven’t embraced it,” said Curcuru, citing the recent study by Harvard Business Review.

Kristin Boggiano

In a session focused on the maturation of the digital asset class, Kristin Boggiano, co-founder and president of CrossTower, shed light on what she says is a contentious debate going on between centralized finance (CeFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi).

“Centralized finance in essence is taking the traditional financial infrastructure that applies to commodities, equities, etc. and replicating that for digital access, so we have counterparties that can be held accountable if there’s some aspect that doesn’t work, for example whether they get paid or not,” she said. “In theory, decentralized finance is when machines talk to machines and there is no human being. Someone has crafted a script, a platform that replicates the financial transaction, removing the entity in the middle, the counterparty, thus removing the counterparty credit risk.”

But there are potential risks, she added. “You could have a bug in your script; someone could overcome the decentralized nature of it and overtake it,” she said. “There are many interesting and innovative aspects of decentralized finance that we need to embrace, but I have to emphasize the ‘in theory’ part, because most of the ones I’ve observed, they have coders that are getting together, they have CEOs, they are hiring marketing people, and the question is: is it actually decentralized?”

Boggiano believes DeFi has the potential of creating and innovating in payments in ways we can’t foresee yet, like the iPhone. However, when you’re dealing with money, there are always bad actors. Nevertheless, she sees a path forward for DeFi in CeFi. “There is a movement for that right now, and that makes a whole lot of sense. This is our industry and we want it to be safe,” she said.

Ahead of the virtual event party featuring break-out sessions to stimulate discussion on the topics of the day, the Women in FinServ lounge, sponsored by Intel, concluded with a talk from Trish Damkroger, a vice president with Intel’s Datacenter Group. Damkroger emphasized the importance of corporate culture and inclusion and reviewed Intel’s ongoing efforts to boost diversity in the workplace.

The events of 2020 have been a real eye-opener for companies that didn’t think diversity, equality and inclusion were important before, Damkroger said. “The people entering the workforce are more focused on having an inclusive work environment,” she said. “We’ve cracked the tipping point.”

 

 

 

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Nvidia Aims Clara Healthcare at Drug Discovery, Imaging via DGX

April 12, 2021

Nvidia Corp. continues to expand its Clara healthcare platform with the addition of computational drug discovery and medical imaging tools based on its DGX A100 platform, related InfiniBand networking and its AGX develop Read more…

Nvidia Serves Up Its First Arm Datacenter CPU ‘Grace’ During Kitchen Keynote

April 12, 2021

Today at Nvidia’s annual spring GPU technology conference, held virtually once more due to the ongoing pandemic, the company announced its first ever Arm-based CPU, called Grace in honor of the famous American programmer Grace Hopper. Read more…

Nvidia Debuts BlueField-3 – Its Next DPU with Big Plans for an Expanded Role

April 12, 2021

Nvidia today announced its next generation data processing unit (DPU) – BlueField-3 – adding more substance to its evolving concept of the DPU as a full-fledged partner to CPUs and GPUs in delivering advanced computi Read more…

Nvidia’s Newly DPU-Enabled SuperPOD Is a Multi-Tenant, Cloud-Native Supercomputer

April 12, 2021

At GTC 2021, Nvidia has announced an upgraded iteration of its DGX SuperPods, calling the new offering “the first cloud-native, multi-tenant supercomputer.” The newly announced SuperPods come just two years after the Read more…

Tune in to Watch Nvidia’s GTC21 Keynote with Jensen Huang – Recording Now Available

April 12, 2021

Join HPCwire right here on Monday, April 12, at 8:30 am PT to see the Nvidia GTC21 keynote from Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang, livestreamed in its entirety. Hosted by HPCwire, you can click to join the Huang keynote on our livestream to hear Nvidia’s expected news and... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Volkswagen Passenger Cars Uses NICE DCV for High-Performance 3D Remote Visualization

 

Volkswagen Passenger Cars has been one of the world’s largest car manufacturers for over 70 years. The company delivers more than 6 million automobiles to global customers every year, from 50 production locations on five continents. Read more…

The US Places Seven Additional Chinese Supercomputing Entities on Blacklist

April 8, 2021

As tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, the U.S. government today added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to an economic blacklist. The U.S. Entity List bars U.S. firms from supplying key technolog Read more…

Nvidia Serves Up Its First Arm Datacenter CPU ‘Grace’ During Kitchen Keynote

April 12, 2021

Today at Nvidia’s annual spring GPU technology conference, held virtually once more due to the ongoing pandemic, the company announced its first ever Arm-based CPU, called Grace in honor of the famous American programmer Grace Hopper. Read more…

Nvidia Debuts BlueField-3 – Its Next DPU with Big Plans for an Expanded Role

April 12, 2021

Nvidia today announced its next generation data processing unit (DPU) – BlueField-3 – adding more substance to its evolving concept of the DPU as a full-fle Read more…

Nvidia’s Newly DPU-Enabled SuperPOD Is a Multi-Tenant, Cloud-Native Supercomputer

April 12, 2021

At GTC 2021, Nvidia has announced an upgraded iteration of its DGX SuperPods, calling the new offering “the first cloud-native, multi-tenant supercomputer.” Read more…

Tune in to Watch Nvidia’s GTC21 Keynote with Jensen Huang – Recording Now Available

April 12, 2021

Join HPCwire right here on Monday, April 12, at 8:30 am PT to see the Nvidia GTC21 keynote from Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang, livestreamed in its entirety. Hosted by HPCwire, you can click to join the Huang keynote on our livestream to hear Nvidia’s expected news and... Read more…

The US Places Seven Additional Chinese Supercomputing Entities on Blacklist

April 8, 2021

As tensions between the U.S. and China continue to simmer, the U.S. government today added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to an economic blacklist. The U Read more…

Habana’s AI Silicon Comes to San Diego Supercomputer Center

April 8, 2021

Habana Labs, an Intel-owned AI company, has partnered with server maker Supermicro to provide high-performance, high-efficiency AI computing in the form of new Read more…

Intel Partners Debut Latest Servers Based on the New Intel Gen 3 ‘Ice Lake’ Xeons

April 7, 2021

Fresh from Intel’s launch of the company’s latest third-generation Xeon Scalable “Ice Lake” processors on April 6 (Tuesday), Intel server partners Cisco, Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo simultaneously unveiled their first server models built around the latest chips. And though arch-rival AMD may... Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Programming the Soon-to-Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer, Frontier

January 5, 2021

What’s it like designing an app for the world’s fastest supercomputer, set to come online in the United States in 2021? The University of Delaware’s Sunita Chandrasekaran is leading an elite international team in just that task. Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of computer and information sciences, recently was named... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2021) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective Read more…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Microsoft, HPE Bringing AI, Edge, Cloud to Earth Orbit in Preparation for Mars Missions

February 12, 2021

The International Space Station will soon get a delivery of powerful AI, edge and cloud computing tools from HPE and Microsoft Azure to expand technology experi Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire