GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Sergey Savastiouk, Founder & CEO at Tickeron
The idea behind Tickeron came about when Sergey Savastiouk wanted to set up a service which would give individual users the right financial and trade advice backed by algorithms. Catch this complete interview where Sergey shares his story and journey in fintech so far.
Can you tell us a little about yourself Sergey? How did the idea for Tickeron come about and what are your plans for the platform?
I started teaching at Santa Clara University and then moved into the Silicon Valley scene to create a few startups. I am now moving forward with Tickeron, one of those startups. The idea came out of my personal experiences with trading. Particularly in the financial crisis of 2008, I saw that my 401(k) went down, a lot of people suffered, and I wanted to set up a service which would give advice automatically, based on my personal experience of trading and knowledge of the mathematics and algorithms. We started all the algorithms from an investing perspective, but experience showed that there are very lengthy periods of upturns. Coming out of the 2008 crisis when Tickeron began, we experienced 10 years of the bullish market. Now facing another crisis, we are going back to the uncertainty where trading is becoming more popular than investing. We now see demand for algorithms for shorter-term trading. We are not setting up portfolios, but robots, which are going to be trading automatically. People can see what the AI is trading in the short term and simply follow those robots with the entry and exit points.
How have you seen the fintech / finance segment evolve over the years?
I came up with the main theme of artificial and human intelligence for investors and traders about 5 years ago. In that time, it was not as popular as it is now. It has evolved in the direction of artificial intelligence as a tool for advisors to spend more time with people from a human perspective and become coaches of what to do. The shift is that you have very sophisticated tools – AI can advise quite a lot, but it also requires human touch. So that means for the past 5 years, we have been maintaining this main theme – artificial and human intelligence which is exactly the direction of quite a lot of companies.
How according to you will the demand for personal fintech apps/financial payment enablers change with time, and given the current world situation (due to the Covid-19 pandemic)?
More and more people want to be involved in their personal finance, but they are not well educated. What this means is that if you have a lot of money, you can fully rely on an advisor who will use that human touch and explain what is going on. A lot of people who are getting involved do not have that amount of money and do not have the luxury of human touch. That means that the systems are going to have to explain in simple language what is going on, where to invest, why to invest and the methods used to make those decisions. There are no systems in the market right now which are not only showing what to do but explaining what to do. What we did was put another layer on top of AI, the layer of natural language generation, where we generate tens of thousands of articles and commentary that a normal person can read and understand where the AI is coming from. That is the next step – not only state what you advise but explain it for millions of people.
What are your thoughts on how new innovations in fintech will evolve with the influence of AI?
You must use AI as more than a robot. Robots are good but when the people are confused, they tend to go and find the commentary. Our system has two ways of finding the commentary. One is to go to the human advisor – let’s assume you don’t know where to go and you press the button “Let Advisor Find Me”. Then the advisors will be able to talk to you. Another option is that we have to provide the natural language generation that explains the situation and says “Ok, that is the reason for this advice, this is the reason for our calculation, this is the technical analysis, this is the fundamental analysis.” We explain all of that. It speaks to the normal person like Siri – that’s the classic example, Siri explains things to common people. However, when it comes to finance, we need to go deeper than Siri and explain to people what is going on. For example, a lot of traders use moving average. When a person steps into trading they might have no idea what the moving average is. That means that the information should be easily accessible – if the AI says they used moving average and the common person does not know what that is, then you have to seamlessly present that information.
What are some of the top features tomorrow’s business to business platforms will have more of as a result of innovative AI-powered introductions?
What we see in business to business is APIs. APIs are the means of business communication. For instance, we did not need to build our payment system where our services are built on a subscription. With it not built like that, we subscribed to another service that allows us to seamlessly work with customers. Business to business is API. Another example is that we cannot collect and gather all of the financial information so, again, we subscribe to another service which allows us to get really good data into our system to use. There are other examples where business to business is seamless communication.
We provide our RSS feeds to other companies who read our news and commentary. What I see is this integration where I subscribe to the service, and the other company does not even know I subscribe and use it, but we pay for that.
When it comes to fintech needs – payment apps, contactless payments will now grow in demand; what are your thoughts in terms of how this segment will evolve further as a result of the Covid-19 world crisis.
People staying at home means there is going to be an enormous shift from owning tangible assets and tangible activities to intangible. We see more people interested in trading because people are isolated at home. All kinds of virtual offices are going to grow. In Silicon Valley, Facebook and Google have announced that their employees do not need to come to the office until the end of the year. Twitter announced that they do not need to come to the office ever. What is happening is that there is going to be a lot of value in online group communication and development. A lot of people are going to start working from their house so all kinds of online delivery services, online games, online communication, Zoom – all those businesses are going to grow in the years to come. The tangible businesses like real estate are going to go down because what is the point of buying a house in Silicon Valley if you can work out of a house in any small town around the valley?
When it comes to streamlining and optimizing the payments delivery and the accounts receivables process: what are some of the top features that business users should look for when they identify/shortlist fintech platforms?
We use Tribe and what we see is that good reporting is very useful for us. They are creating better and better reports on how the subscription is going, what is going on with customers, if the number of customers is going up or down this week. Pretty much everything we see in the report shows the effectiveness of our advertising and PR campaigns. The report of that activity is what matters to us.
How do you think the payment-as-a-service niche will evolve with time to meet the needs of both B2B users and individual business owners over the years?
What really matters for B2B users is API integration and the seamless purchasing of other people’s services. On the B2C level, you have to provide all kinds of options for consumers to buy services from a business. That is where it is going. There is going to be all kinds of methods, but the winners are going to be those who provide seamless integration – simple UI, simple use, and good reporting.
Your favorite FinanceTech quote
As said by Winston Churchill, “no crisis should be left wasted”. If we are in this crisis situation, we should be coming out of it winners in the sense of improving the work environment. There is a lot of potential in trying to find the best of the situation where we are and where we are going to be when it is over.
Read More: Is Covid-19 a Wake Up Call for InsurTechs?
Would you like to share specific finance or business tips for Marketing and Sales teams struggling through this uncertain time?
There are all kinds of means to reach people that we are seeing them use more – Facebook, Google, other social platforms. The proper positioning of marketing activities in social platforms is the best way right now. Because people are isolated, they are spending more time on the computer and it is interactive. You can quickly get feedback on whether your marketing is working. With TV news and newspapers, you never get feedback on effective how your marketing campaign is. Social platforms are so well designed for marketing that you can quickly understand whether your message is right or wrong and whether people are clicking or not. My advice is to use social platforms more than ever.
Tickeron is a web-based, interactive Financial Marketplace. The company has developed state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) that can optimize portfolios based on asset allocation and stock selection, and that can also identify dozens of technical trading patterns for thousands of stocks.
Sergey Savastiouk, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Tickeron, an artificial and human intelligence platform delivering unparalleled trading insights and analysis to self-directed investors and investment advisors.