Nov 29, 2023 6 min read

The Fintech 5 with Kathryn Van Nuys — Advisory Board Member at Fintech Sandbox

The Fintech 5 is a series of blog posts consisting of questions and answers designed to help you get to know the people behind Fintech Sandbox and our Data Access Residency better.

Kathryn Van Nuys is the Head of Startup Business Development for North America at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and an Advisory Board member at Fintech Sandbox. She began her career with more established financial services firms before working at several capital markets focused fintech startups. She joined AWS in 2018.

AWS has several programs designed to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and makes these programs, which include credits for their cloud hosting platform, available to startups selected for our Data Access Residency free of charge.

Kathryn-Van-Nuys

Question #1: Why has AWS chosen to support Fintech Sandbox in this way?

We have been working with the Fintech Sandbox for many years and it’s been a great relationship. A core part of our strategy is to work with partners including VCs, accelerators, and incubators to ensure startups get the guidance, support, and infrastructure they need to build disruptive businesses. AWS provides programs like Activate, which helps them get off the ground with business and technical expertise, and credits to test and start building solutions with little to no upfront costs. We also work with startups as they leverage the AWS Partner Network and Marketplace, which helps them market their products and services to potential customers and generate business leads. Fintech Sandbox has a similar customer obsessed approach in their support of Fintech entrepreneurs as they provide access to data which is critical to the building and testing of their products. 

Question #2: Hot take! What are your thoughts on AI in the financial services industry?

Today, 91% of financial services institutions are using artificial intelligence (AI) to drive business transformation and change, and 80% of fintechs are leveraging machine learning (ML) in particular. AI is already pervasive and generative AI will take it to a different level which can change the game for financial services. We are still in the very early innings and so far we are seeing generative AI being used to make chatbots like Cleo more sophisticated and easy to use, to automate individualized financial analysis and investment recommendations, and to expand access to services, such wealth management and business bookkeeping.

At AWS, we are betting big on generative AI because we believe in its potential to usher in the era of ‘self-driving money’, when every consumer with a smartphone can have access to an affordable, trusted financial advisor that will help them improve their financial health. In a future where access to finance is set to be cheaper, greener, and decentralized, arming fintechs with these powerful tools and new technologies unlocks new opportunities for them to delight customers.

We also see a big opportunity in code development. This is not unique to financial services, but we are certainly seeing a lot of Fintechs and financial institutions use Amazon CodeWhisperer to boost developer productivity, code quality, and accelerate workload production. 

Question 3: How does AWS facilitate the development of fintech startups that are leveraging AI?

More fintechs around the world trust AWS to build their solutions—AWS runs more secure workloads for financial services than any other cloud provider and offers unmatched reach. Building on AWS enables fintech startups to be data-driven and AI-ready from inception, helping them innovate quicker and get to market faster. With 70+ state-of-the-art services for big data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning fine-tuned over two decades of experience, AWS has the broadest and deepest solution set to help fintechs make better decisions faster and provide outstanding, personalized services to their customers.

Our account support team, from go-to-market to solutions architecture, is completely verticalized to meet the specific needs of fintechs—with seasoned financial services experts that really understand what it takes to be successful in a such a heavily regulated industry. We also have a team of machine learning and artificial intelligence experts ready to support startup customers think through their use cases and learn best practices. We have also developed programs such as the Global Fintech Accelerator which is aimed at turbocharging growth for fintech startups leveraging AI and machine learning. We consistently hear from customers that our support and specialized knowledge is incredibly helpful as they grow their business and is a real differentiator. 

Question 4: How has your experience working at fintech startups informed what you do now at AWS?

Having the experience of working at both large financial institutions as well as fintech startups provides me with a deeper understanding of our customers and the pain points they are looking to solve. At AWS, we understand that success takes more than just having a great idea – it also requires the right tools, expert advice, and supportive partnerships. That’s why we have built a team with deep industry experience who use customer feedback to build programs and resources to support customers. 

Question #5: What are some of the biggest learnings from your career journey?

In my career, I’ve found that continuous learning, adaptability, and effective communication are crucial if you want to grow and evolve your career. As we’ve seen with generative AI more recently and before that Web3, staying curious will help keep your skills relevant and demonstrates an innovation mindset. 

Bonus Question: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about artificial intelligence and recently read Chip Wars. If you’re interested in understanding more about the history of microchip technology, definitely check it out.

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