Every five minutes a new FinTech startup materializes, connecting us to better mortgages, showing us how to invest, or explaining what to do with our Bitcoins. It begs the question: what makes a FinTech Startup memorable, and garner widespread success?
Usefulness. If FinTech is going to replace traditional financial services, startups must understand what people need on a daily basis. What apps are consumers really desperate for? It seems many companies are stuck in the traditional banking mindset, as though FinTech exists simply to cut, copy and paste old patterns onto new technologies. There is so much untapped potential for the FinTech world, and the startups doing the real, mental innovation are going to be heralded as heroes. There are more than a few things that developers need to understand…
Money is social
It is impossible to ignore just how social and connected humanity is in 2015. People expect their money to move just as fast as their news, gossip and internet trends. The peer-to-peer payment platform Kashmi made waves this summer in Singapore by making money sharing easy and social. Slowly branching across Asia, the app enables users to transfer funds immediately via smartphone with no extra fees. It makes the process easy and streamlined, just like users expect.
Combining the money-sharing process with social media features, it’s as easy as selecting a friend from your Facebook list (literally). No more splitting a restaurant bill five ways. No more IOU’s. It is simply not enough to be able to send money online; it should be instantaneous, user-friendly and integrated to other social outlets.
Humanity’s social needs don’t just end with the easy day-to-day transactions. ShereIt, another trending Asian startup, is giving investing a new, social makeover. This is, perhaps, the social trading network of the future. Rather than just listening to friends, family, and your uncle’s advisor for tips, you can enter a whole social world of profitable investing. If you follow your favorite actresses’s web presence, why not a top investor? Mimicking trades and patterns add an incredible new level of possibility to the old art form. Moreover, when this succeeds, that will certainly signal unforeseeable changes in the entire system.
Making money social doesn’t necessarily mean the world needs a “Financial Facebook.” It means realizing how people use money to interact with one another. Startups need to see and harness the need to combine financial resources with the social, political, and emotional interactions people make everyday.
Keep users safe, so they don’t have to
Most tech users don’t follow the rules and use highly complicated passwords or change them regularly. Passwords get written on slips of paper, or shared with friends. People don’t quite know what to do with all the power associated with their online accounts. Not many of us respect or appreciate how important our passwords are. If startups want to get attention, they may consider appealing to the lazy side of all tech users in simplifying these unnecessary steps.
PixelPin does just that. Rather than lots of words and numbers and symbols no one wants to remember, it uses an image. By allowing users to select their own image and four points to act as keys, the simple but useful app can be seamlessly interwoven into daily life. Similarly, Logrr let’s users to have a single sign-on to all enterprise cloud applications. This means no passwords, and conserving time by not signing into every single app one at a time. Even the most organized of person gets tired of passwords and codes. Everyone wants to feel secure online, without having a trail of twentydigit passwords kept under lockandkey.
Further inspiration: TSWG and their eyeSafe app.
International Globe-Trotting and New Markets
It was much harder twenty years ago to pick up and move to a new country, or hop on a plane and weekend on a foreign shore. When traveling it can seem impossible to maneuver all the red tape of international money transfers. It’s expensive, exhausting and sometimes downright infuriating. When given banks are deemed “foreigner friendly” because their international transfer fees are less likely to enrage customers, it’s time for entrepreneurs to find a better way. FinTech startups are just the people to tackle all of these forgotten (and often exploited) markets. Money Mover has the beautiful motto, “Moving money shouldn’t be shrouded in mystery.” They recognize that traditional banks have overlooked these vital markets and face the problem with a more consumer oriented POV. They help customers maneuver that impossible red tape, and transfer money with ease. It’s no surprise that Money Mover is moving forward at a rapid pace and (hopefully!!) bringing us along with it.
Help people who suck at money
Not everyone wants a social investing network; many just want to make it to payday. Millenials, as already discussed, are giving a huge push to the FinTech revolution and they have very specific needs. Many aren’t able to save money, and living life paycheck-to-paycheck is far from easy. Apps like Qapital are trying to get practical information and tools in the hands of those who need it. Rather than being particularly high tech, the app relies on “If This Then That” logic.
It can tell a user exactly how much money it will save by not buying this coffee, or by walking the two kilometers to work. It’s a common sense app; there’s no cutting edge technology involved, yet it addresses a serious, daily problem with finesse and clarity. Furthermore, its audience is huge, and growing each day.
If FinTech is signaling the slow downfall of traditional financial services, what will take their place?
The Berlin startup Number 26 is a good example of twenty first century banking. The “European Simple” realizes that modern day finance woes need a progressive modern-day remedy. Everything happens online, and users are given a traditional debit card to use (free of charge) at Mastercard-friendly ATM’s and shops. Number 26 CEO, Valentin Stalf, had some great words on the future of his product and startup:
“The broad vision is to build one bank for the European market. Because I think that is what the lives of young people look like. They don’t care about boundaries within Europe, they are living European lives. It makes no sense to have an English bank and a German bank anymore.”
Much of modern finance simply does not make sense. Traditional banks have failed to see the untapped needs of the modern consumer, and that’s where startups come in. By showing the world what they’ve been missing, consumers just can’t say no to innovative new financial services.
(image cred: Michael Davis-Burchat)