As one of the leading PR firms serving the financial technology (FinTech) ecosystem, we have been fortunate to be a small part of this industry’s growth since its infancy. From a few start-ups in 2007 to literally thousands today, it is hard not to hear about an innovator transforming broken financial systems through advanced technology. Whether they are solutions for the massive underbanked consumer population, a radical challenge to improve debt collection, or platforms to more efficiently deploy capital to Main Street businesses, the advent of technology is fundamentally improving legacy systems all around us.
I am often asked by industry colleagues, the VC community and media two key questions: 1) Why does FinTech really matter, and 2) Isn’t the use of technology simply the cost of doing business in 2015? The answers are surprisingly simple. FinTech matters because the companies at the forefront of this evolution are addressing significant pain points that impact hundreds of millions of people. The use of technology goes well beyond a sleek looking website or cool app. FinTech is employing Big Data, machine learning, behavioral analytics and a host of other tech and science based disciplines to fix broken systems – ones that have failed the American consumer, small business owners and other key stakeholders. FinTech is bringing new products and services to a greater population and doing so in a friction-free method.
We see this with online lenders that can determine a consumer or business customer’s creditworthiness in minutes and provide funding in 24 hours – sometimes less. Compare that to traditional banks that require reams of paperwork and weeks, sometimes months, before a loan decision is even rendered. And why does that matter? Imagine you own a pizza place and your oven breaks down. Waiting for critical capital to fix that oven is not an option. No fix. No pizza. No business. Small businesses need capital to maintain and grow their operations; consumers need capital to purchase homes, pay for school and afford medical procedures.
FinTech is also disrupting other sectors that drive our economy: mobile payments, money transfers, fundraising, asset management, healthcare and insurance, to name a few.
We asked some of our clients – Fundbox, LendKey, TrueAccord, National Funding and Noesis - to weigh in with a few predictions on where FinTech is headed and the role traditional financial institutions will or will not play as this industry continues to evolve.
Eyal Shinar, CEO, Fundbox
- Technology is important, as it is the agent of change. It improves the function of financing through innovation. Emerging technology makes the financing infrastructure more efficient.
- Assuming that the nation's overall economic landscape doesn't change too much we are going to see start-ups in credit and payments continue to grow and become the more standardized solution.
- We will also see the rise in insurance technology.
Vince Passione, CEO, LendKey
- FinTech continues to play a vital role to traditional banking. Think of this stage of the cycle as FinTech 1.0. Historically, in financial services, the incumbents watch from the sidelines as these new firms innovate and grow. They pay special attention to the regulator’s response to these new innovations.
- Once traditional financial institutions feel the landscape is fairly established, the collaboration phase occurs where these new firms create partnerships with the incumbent firms. This is FinTech 2.0.
- FinTech 2.0 will increase its footprint.
Ohad Samet, CEO, TrueAccord
- Banks are realizing that FinTech is paramount to their brand perception, NPS and continued profitability. We will see an increase in banks acquiring tech companies and setting up innovation centers.
- New services are going to be strong customer acquisition tools and will pave the way to a shift in market share for some medium size banks.
- As the Fed reverses the trend on interest rates, we're going to witness a moment of reckoning in alternative consumer lending as default rates bounce back from their historically low rates. That will lead to consolidation, but a few winners will emerge as viable, well-funded competitors to smaller banks.
Scott Harmon, CEO, Noesis
- New lending platforms pose the classic 'Innovators Dilemma' to traditional banks. We will see examples of partnerships, as well as internal competition and almost certainly M&A.
- New lending platforms get a wakeup call, in the form of government regulation, especially focused on consumer and sub-prime.
- Continued growth of specialized, 'vertical' lending platforms with highly differentiated origination, underwriting and credit models.
Dave Gilbert, CEO, National Funding
- You will see more partnerships coming from the two sectors as FinTech delivers products and services at a fraction of the cost and in a significantly more efficient channel.
- You will see more IPO’s and more private equity deals in the sector. There is a tremendous amount of capital that has been deployed in the space and a lot of investors are still looking for great companies to invest in.
We we will continue to see the evolution of FinTech taking root across a number of new verticals. Just as lenders were once called ‘alternative lenders’ but are now mainstream financial solutions, new verticals will fast become mainstream as well. Harnessing the robust data pools that exist today will trigger more innovation across more industry sectors. As with any exciting new industry that experiences many entrants, such as the early days of the automobile where there were approximately 1,800 car manufacturers in the U.S., we will inevitably see a shake-up. Today, there are only four big U.S. car manufacturers. There are about 1,300 online lending platforms. What will separate the winners from the losers? Visit our Facebook page and weigh in with your thoughts.