With McKinsey projecting fintechs to take as much as 60% of banks’ retail profits in the future, it’s not surprising that the financial industry is scrambling to retain customers every way it can. However, traditional financial institutions still expect consumers to come to them: fintech’s great strength is to adapt to consumers.
But who is fintech adapting to? A close look at the burgeoning industry’s many-faceted interest groups not only gives us an idea of who is benefitting from fintech right now, but also the industry’s most likely growth areas in the future.
Massolution’s 2015 CF report estimated that the global crowdfunding market will grow to an enormous $34.4 billion in 2015. Fintech companies can streamline and develop this into new funding avenues for entrepreneurs. Fundingtree, for example, is a crowdfunding platform that provides real-time evaluation of pitches by experienced business professionals.
A variety of fintech companies also focus their services on the needs of MSMEs and early stage entrepreneurs. Traditional financial institutions cannot provide loans to MSMEs easily due to high charges and inefficient processes. Capitalizing on automated credit scoring technologies, fintech companies can lend to MSMEs more efficiently, which will foster a much more positive culture around entrepreneurship.
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Fintech will enable people who, for structural, legal or political reasons, are off-the-grid, to get on it. bKash allows people who are not formally connected to the banking sector to send and receive money via mobile phones. This is a highly effective solution, since 70% of Bangladesh’s population live in rural areas without ready access to financial services.
Similarly, immigrants and refugees are often excluded from mainstream banking systems. That’s where companies like Monese come in. Monese allows immigrants and refugees to open current accounts via their mobile phones, and provides them with a Visa card – overcoming some initial problems of settling in a new country.
Fintech will benefit individuals, companies and charities; anyone who needs to transfer money abroad. To this date, sending money abroad still largely relies on antiquated business models involving hidden charges and high remittance rates.
Fintech companies have been able to work around traditional charges and horn-in on the transfer industry (with over $500 billion sent abroad each year by individuals). Peer-to-peer exchange benefits from charging a fraction of the typical 5-8% in fees that transfer giants like Moneygram and Western Union conceal inside their advertised exchange rate. British charity Comic Relief stated in 2014 that communities in Sub-Saharan Africa were being “hurt” by transfer remittance fees; reducing fees helps overcome financial exclusion, as more money reaches recipients.
Likewise, SMEs aren’t catered for; complex processes and hidden charges applying specifically to them when making transfers. Money Mover, a fintech startup in this area, calculates that SMEs make an incredible $5.6 trillion in international payments and monetary transfers annually – an enormous market fintech can cater to.
Fintech services for finance professionals can be found, for example, in the field of property and hedge-fund management. Add to that the growth of tools like Planwise which provides detailed analysis of proposed housing investments to aid decision-making, and the fintech market becomes more than the sum of its parts; it becomes a substantial addition to current forms of financial operation.
Fintech leverages technology to limit the amount of investment risk. This will foster the development of companies using data to provide investing and risk expertise. FutureAdvisor, for example, provides private clients and financial professionals with a data-based analysis of their investments. The trend to turn to tech companies for financial expertise means we can expect major disruption in this area, and the adoption of more reliable fintech data and expertise by finance professionals and institutions.
Fintech and digital natives were made for one another. Young people are more amenable to innovations in technology, especially at a time when they are increasingly more careful with their finances. The most likely reason for their financial scrupulousness is the global recession of the past few years.
Fintech startups like Number 26 serve this demographic by offering a fully-fledged bank account on smartphones, which not only clusters spending in beautiful visuals, it assists young people in thinking more clearly about their financial management. Services which cater specifically to the needs of young people will grow significantly with online insurance and student tuition being two areas for future growth. Companies like Tuition.io are already making headway in the latter. This combination of fintech with digital native desire to become more financially conscious means the technology will play a vital role in shaping young people’s perceptions and management of their money.
Fintech involves money and technology: two things hackers and criminals love. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are so popular with these groups because of the significant gains and anonymity offered. A total of more than $1 billion was stolen in bitcoins in 2014 alone, including the infamous attacks on Mt. Gox and Flexcoin. Additionally, analysts from the Southern Methodist University, Dallas estimate that a quarter of all Bitcoin exchanges were subject to fraudulent activities.
These scary-sounding facts have an upside: criminal interest in fintech will mean greater investment in cyber-security in the future. Expect the emergence of a meta-fintech sector, dedicated to protecting the privacy and wealth of customers, as well as the tools used in exchanges like wallets. Cyber-security firms like Digital Shadows will continue to grow, providing threat analysis as well as tools to prevent hacks. Thus, fintech will play a vital role in securing the integrity and safety of online markets.