Technology is constantly transforming our world and the way of doing business. The financial industry has not been an exception, although traditionally and by its very nature, it is usually one of the most aversive to change. It has been the fintechs and wealthtechs that have had to push traditional players to peek into this new way of doing things. They were the first to understand that we are not savers nor investors, but consumers of investment and banking products among others. Thanks to that new way of understanding the business, in the last 10 years making everyday banking and payments transactions has changed to something much more agile, faster and above all more user friendly and convenient.
Today as consumers, we have become accustomed and comfortable with every type of application and connected service involving financial services, from sending money from your mobile, to filling out an electronic mortgage application to purchasing shares online. The rise of fintech, that infusion of technology and financial services with an attractive consumer halo, has totally transformed the financial industry, and today fintech continues to gather momentum. You only need to look at the phenomenal rise of m-commerce, epayments, the birth of cryptocurrencies, and blockchain, to name just a few.
Undeniably technology has rewritten the rules in financial services with new players offering novel and distinctive financial services to customers, with intuitive- and customer-centric solutions, delivered with technology which has disrupted traditional business models. Think of companies like Allfunds, N26, Revolut, beNEXT, Raisin and so many more. All these companies have been groundbreaking in their use of technology to break market inefficiencies and have used novel technology to really marry customer needs and expectations with a great service, and a new way of doing things. So, the question we had is, what is the common thread of success for these fintech companies and is it transferable across other industries? It is not just applying technology… the answer is applying fine technology, technology fine-tuned to the user needs. We call this Finetech.
Fintech and wealthtech companies that have enjoyed success and growth have managed to use technology to provide a personalized service, making the customer experience intuitive, user friendly, safe and secure, always on, available on mobile and across any device. This coupled with being adaptive and responsive to customer needs, and making their product stand out, has been the secret formula for success. With technologies like AI, big data and the volume, variety, and veracity of customer data, consumer services will only become increasingly personalized, all enabled by technology. We call this Finetech, fine use of technology to really target, serve and delight customers. And yes, it is transferable across industries of course.
As in every sector, from airlines to supermarkets, the menacing shadow of big tech also looms over financial institutions. It seems that some of the FAANG companies, which are rich in customer data, want a greater piece of consumer attention and consumer spending. Facebook with 2.41 billion users or Amazon with nearly 500 million, can start offering tailored financial services at any stage. Their use of Finetech is well documented and accepted, after all it is what has allowed them to grow in reach. As we said, it is not just fintech companies or the financial services industry that fear the entry of new competitors or big tech companies into their markets, but all sectors that can be disrupted through Finetech (the fine application of technology). We have seen it in the travel, retail and the finance industry, and we are now seeing it spread across all sectors.
Tomorrow’s world belongs to those companies that can master technology to bring specialized customer services based on personalized data, market and customer knowledge and insights. Companies who use technology to radically improve how you order and consume products, whether it’s something as simple as ordering a taxi or take away food, or purchasing travel or how you bank; those that apply Finetech to reengineer market dynamics will lead. To date, some fintech and wealthtech companies have led the way, taking advantage of a financial sector that was heavily regulated, very traditional and burdened with inefficient processes. But now we await what big tech and new market entrants will do. Their businesses have both the data, the volume of consumers and they are well versed in the application of Finetech, making them a real threat to any company in any sector. Amazon launching insurance services, Facebook´s new currency Libra, Apple entertainment, and Google Pay are all now a question of when rather than why.