In the Fintech Fast Five, we ask industry insiders five of the pressing questions facing the sector. In the firing line today is Prajit Nanu, CEO of InstaReM…
What fintech will have the biggest impact in 2019, and why?
We’re at a really exciting tipping point in fintech at the moment and 2019 is set to be another big year. Digital payments are going to have a huge impact on both businesses and consumers. We expect to see a significant uptick in digital payments – both domestically as well as internationally.
From international payments perspective, we’re already seeing how business can now make multi- currency payments easily in a single transfer, streamlining payment processes and allowing businesses around the world to collaborate with each other more freely. We’ve introduced this feature to our platform at InstaReM and we’re looking to add other features that will help better payment processes across the world in 2019.
For the consumer, the choices of who, where and how they will transfer money will improve in 2019. As the competition gets greater in this market, it won’t be a surprise if you’ll be able to send money from Singapore to a friend in the US via a simple text message – and that money to be in their account in a matter of seconds.
How can you encourage the mass adoption of Fintech?
The use of fintech is growing year-on-year, but to further encourage the mass adoption of it, partnerships are a must. While Fintech offer a great promise for efficient delivery of financial services, let’s face it, they do not enjoy the kind of trust and the reach that the banks do. Fintechs need to partner with banks and other financial service providers. This will help bring fintech solutions more into the mainstream. Banks, too, will benefit from fintech’s innovative and scalable solutions. It has to be a win-win proposition.
At InstaReM, we now power the payments for three of the top ten banks in Southeast Asia. This has helped our technology be adopted at scale. Networking is also important for fintechs – we’ve become a Ripple partner which has enabled us to spread our fintech solution creating a payment corridor between Southeast Asia and Latin America.
If all fintech providers focused on increasing partnerships and networks, then we’ll soon see mass adoption of financial technology across the globe.
Are legacy institutions agile enough to keep pace with changing demands/innovations?
In short, no but that’s not to say they can’t be. Those tied down to legacy systems need to partner and work alongside fintech companies that are already digitally native.
Demands have never been higher in the financial industry. People want a simple, user-friendly solution to transfer money, to access their current accounts, to provide their loans. It needs to be mobile first, fast, agile, flexible and fair – Legacy institutions can’t be all this and innovate at a fast enough pace.
By partnering with fintech providers, these institutions can concentrate on offering amazing customer service whilst the product building can be done in the back-end on a third party, tech-led system.
Is personal finance going to be 100% digitised and, if so, when?
In countries like the UK, most definitely. This year alone, the UK has seen card payments overtake cash payments – even for smaller payments like buying a coffee or a beer. As cash dwindles and digital challenger banks continue to grow, personal finance in the UK is going to be digitised and I wouldn’t be shocked if we were a largely cashless society by 2020.
In other parts of the world, cash is still a prominent feature and so while the pace of digital money adoption is slower, many governments around the world are are making a concerted and deliberate effort to change the situation.
How can companies and institutions encourage financial inclusion and education?
We strongly believe fintech is becoming an enabler of financial inclusion, and the trend is likely to get more pronounced, going forward. Being in fintech, we’re in a privileged position where we can have a positive impact on financial inclusion and education.
In the Southeast Asian region where we were founded, many people are still unbanked and without access to financial services.
Only 27% of Southeast Asia’s 600 million population had a bank account in 2016, according to KPMG. This means that approximately 162 million people are deprived of the opportunities that one gets with an access to banking. They often end up relying on informal channels for their financial needs. Banks have probably not been able to reach out to a substantial population due to the logistical constraints. But the rising penetration of internet-enabled mobile devices offers a great opportunity for the unbanked to get an access to the formal banking. Internet, in a sense, is a great leveler and fintech offers a universal platform to deliver financial (and many other) services to everyone almost democratically.
Fintech firms are making the most of this opportunity with innovative and efficient digital platforms/solutions, thus taking basic banking –services like lending, payments, remittances etc. – to the underserved and underbanked segments.