This week’s tech news, filtered for financial services execs

March 28

Hello and welcome to Insights Distilled, a weekly email briefing that curates tactical technology news for financial services execs. Every Tuesday morning, we send you the top five stories you need to know – and explain why they matter. Our tech news roundup helps you stay on top of the innovations driving business agility in your industry. To get next week’s edition in your inbox, sign up here.


This week’s edition centers on experimentation. Several of our stories dive into ways that large financial institutions are using pilot projects or test trials to start experimenting with technology like blockchain, biometric identification, or generative AI.  

While each example is different, they all demonstrate the benefits of getting off the sidelines to start trying things out, while using tests or soft launches to gather data and solidify strategies.  

Let’s dive in: 

  1. Quick coding: Goldman Sachs brings ChatGPT-like tech to its engineers
  2. Acquiring analytics: Why JPMorgan bought startup-focused Aumni
  3. Palm readers: JPMorgan predicts a cardless future
  4. Matching at Merrill: How personalization creates better wealth-management relationships
  5. Blockchain building: Swift successfully pilots a securities project to save time and money

Goldman Sachs engineers are experimenting with ChatGPT-style artificial intelligence to write code more efficiently.  

Tech like ChatGPT – the AI-powered tool that can respond to prompts and queries in a human-like way – is helping Goldman’s developers get their work done, according to an exec. In some test cases, they’ve used it to write as much as 40% of their code automatically. 

Goldman Sachs is allowing its engineers to use a generative AI tool to write code more efficiently, according to chief information officer Marco Argenti.  

Developers can use the technology to both test existing code and generate new work, Argenti told CNBC, allowing them to be more productive. Generative AI for engineering – like GitHub Copilot – can also enhance creativity by eliminating rote work and helping users get past questions they’re stuck on.  

“If you actually have a GPT-like technology that tests the code, or you generate the tests for the GPT code, you’re creating this dualism where you test the machine and you get the machine to test your work,” Argenti said.  

He declined to specify which generative AI products, specifically, Goldman has used and stressed that the firm’s deployment of the tool is still in “proof of concept” mode. But its experimentation is a crucial step to understanding the tech’s potential: “I’ve been in technology probably almost four decades or so, and this is one of the biggest disruptions I’ve ever seen.” 

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley is giving its financial advisors access to ChatGPT to synthesize its proprietary research, Swedish investment firm EQT programmed a chatbot to help its dealmakers benefit from its “Motherbrain” data platform, and fintech Klarna has deployed it externally for shopping recommendations.  

We expect to see more FinServs proactively rolling out ways for employees to use this tool, though for the time being, many big banks have banned work usage of ChatGPT, until it’s properly vetted.  


JPMorgan is buying an analytics platform that caters to venture capital firms in its bid to get closer to the startup ecosystem. 

JPMorgan wants to deepen its relationships with venture capital investors and their portfolio companies, allowing it to offer them services “from inception through to IPO.” 

JPMorgan wants to be a one-stop shop for private companies and their investors.  

The bank is buying Aumni, a Utah-based analytics startup that helps its VC users replace Excel by making it easy to track and analyze their holdings in a given company.  

JPMorgan’s purchase follows the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which also catered to the startup world, though its relationship with Aumni stems back to 2021, when JPMorgan led the firm’s $50 million funding round.  

Aumni will be integrated into Capital Connect, the platform JPMorgan launched late last year that simplifies the funding process for startups and strengthens JPMorgan’s connections with young venture-backed companies.  

All told, JPMorgan has made dozens of deals since 2020, with a particular focus on consumer-facing technology or fintech


JPMorgan is testing in-store biometric technology that lets users pay with their palm or face.  

Biometric payments offer a convenient, secure way to make purchases. JPMorgan is testing the technology – which Goode Intelligence expects to account for nearly $6 trillion in transactions by 2026 – as a means of staying ahead of the payments revolution.

For years, financial institutions have allowed users to sign into their smartphone apps with facial recognition or a fingerprint. Now, JPMorgan is taking that vision of a cardless, passwordless future one step further into brick-and-mortar retail.  

Soon, the bank will enable merchants to offer customers the ability to pay for goods and services in-store using palm or face identification.  

JPMorgan’s “commerce solutions” division is launching its test run with brick-and-mortar establishments in the US this year, including Formula 1 race Miami Grand Prix. It’s deploying a combination of in-house technology and partnerships to launch the pilot and, if successful, plans to use its initial learnings to launch the service more broadly in 2024.  

Biometric payments are seen as a frictionless, efficient option for customers to buy things – after all, there’s also no risk of leaving your payments method at home. 

“At its heart, biometrics-based payments empowers our merchant clients to deliver a better customer payment experience,” according to JPMorgan’s head of omnichannel solutions, Jean-Marc Thienpont.    

Similarly, Amazon and sandwich chain Panera just announced their own pilot for palm-scanning payments initiatives.  


As wealth management enters a new era, Merrill Lynch built an algorithm that matches clients with several suggested financial advisors – and it’s a boon for both consumers and the brokers itself. 

Merrill is betting that helping people connect with advisors based on their preferences will help it hook younger, more digital-centric customers – and build its brand.  

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch is rethinking relationship building for its financial advisors. 

While clients historically find their advisors through referrals, the wire house has launched a matching algorithm that can pair them based on their stated preferences. Potential clients answer questions about their investing approach, financial needs, communication style, and personality, and then Merrill will automatically recommend at least five advisors that its algorithm has highlighted as a good fit.  

The speed and experience mimic the format of popular recommendation or matchmaking sites and cater to a younger, tech-centric set of clients that want to quickly connect with a representative that suits them. 

This algorithmically driven recommendation is meant to be a “warm experience” opposed to a cold lead, Merrill’s head of platforms and capabilities, Casey Franz, told American Banker.  

Beyond making the process of finding an advisor easy for a new generation of digitally savvy clientele, the system helps Merrill build stronger relationships. The hope is that if a given financial advisor leaves the firm, the client will use the recommendation engine to find another manager, instead of following their original one outside of Merrill.  


Swift just successfully completed a blockchain pilot project that could save asset managers time (and millions).  

The blockchain is well suited to corporate action processing, which has traditionally required significant manual effort and been rife with errors, because it creates transparency and traceability of data across a shared network. 

Ubiquitous bank-to-bank messaging platform Swift successfully trialed a blockchain-based application that it says could save the securities industry time and money.  

Working alongside six other securities participants – including Citi and Northern Trust – Swift trialed a new method of communicating corporate events (like tender offers, stock splits, and Dutch auctions) on an online blockchain. 

The new process simplifies an otherwise complex manual process of verifying a piece of news: “Our analysis found that asset managers often receive notifications from up to 100 different sources about the same corporate event, and the data is often different or contradictory from one source to another,” says Swift’s securities strategy director, Jonathan Ehrenfeld.  

Instead of asset managers needing to sift through all that information to verify data, the system automatically conducts peer-to-peer comparisons and creates a single, accurate shared document about a given corporate action. The process reduced errors, saved time, and could lower costs: Inefficiencies in communicating about corporate actions are currently costing each market participant $3 to $5 million a year on average

This is just the latest blockchain-related project to gain steam: A former Goldman Sachs trader recently launched a startup that’s using the blockchain to sell bonds. As Bain’s Thomas Olsen put it to Distilled recently: “Large financial institutions are seeing a window of opportunity” for Web3 and blockchain projects this year because of crypto’s problems. 

Quick Bits:

Personnel news: Citi promoted Anand Selva, its head of personal banking and wealth management, to chief operating officer. Ally Financial poached longtime Goldman Sachs’ exec Russell Hutchinson to be its new chief financial officer.

Money moves: Japanese banking giant Mizuho joined the $270 million Series D of lending startup Kredivo Holdings, while EQT Growth invested in IntegrityNext, which makes ESG compliance software.

Industry collaboration updates: The group of big banks behind Zelle revealed the name of their upcoming Apple Pay competitor: Paze. Meanwhile, real-time payments system FedNow (slated to launch this summer) is attracting early adopters



Thanks for reading! Want next week’s edition in your inbox? Sign up here.