Down rounds, job cuts, market exits and investor taps turned down, 2022 certainly had its challenges for fintech. But fintech, as is its wont, fought through the unexpected macroeconomic hazards this year to launch products, conquer new markets, hit milestones and take the fight to incumbents.
So what presents do fintech bosses want in their Santa sack (and what gifts don’t they want!), which will augur well for the industry in 2023?
Daniel Seifert, Coinbase vice president & regional managing director, EMEA, said of his wishlist: “I’m not sure how you’d gift wrap it, but I’d like to see regulators coming together to deliver a coherent and consistent framework that the entire crypto industry can operate within.
“Knowing what’s wanted and expected of crypto rather than second-guessing policymakers would make a better world for all. As a listed company, we play by the rules so I’m hoping we’re on Santa’s nice list and get this soon.”
Not on his Christmas wishlist, Seifert said: “The fallout from FTX causing knee-jerk regulation that’s not been properly thought through. Regulation made up quickly is usually bad regulation, and doubly so if it drives consumers to offshore platforms within even less oversight.”
Digital wealth boss
Moving from crypto to digital wealth and Giovanni Daprà, co-founder and CEO of Moneyfarm, said he wants (likely what many want) and that is market stability.
Daprà said: “I don’t think it would be too greedy to want market stability, investor confidence and innovation, both in the UK and the wider world.
“Market turmoil has a detrimental impact on people’s saving and investment habits, and it is so important that we encourage everyone to save for the financial future they want and help them be more confident in their investment choices.
“If this was supported by sustained innovation in the financial sector by harnessing the fintech revolution, this would engage consumers and help them take control of their finances and be more confident.”
What Daprà doesn’t want to see in his Christmas sack is monetary policy mistakes next year.
He said: “I think that the role of the Central Banks is still crucial for market stability and economic recovery. A mistake in monetary policy implementation could cause an important stop in global recovery and inflation soft landing.
“Looking at the financial industry, I would like to avoid any deceleration in innovation in the sector. Last but not least I really don’t want to see any lack of confidence in the digital wealth management sector, it is so important from the retail investors’ perspective.”
Digital bank boss
Over at digital bank Zopa, it wants to see more industry collaboration and healthier fintechs among other things.
Clare Gambardella, chief customer officer, Zopa said: “I hope the industry comes together to help consumers build up their financial resilience at this challenging time.”
On wanting to see healthier fintechs, she said: “In an uncertain economy, there have been clear changes in how investors evaluate businesses in the sector. Set alongside consumers’ need for resilient, sustainable businesses to see them through the current economic challenges, we must prioritise sustainable growth and a clear path to commercial profitability.
“Achieving positive returns on equity with healthy profit margins has now become the holy grail of most high-growth, venture capital-backed businesses.”
On the customer front, she said: “Customers can (and should) be shopping around for the most competitive products. Take savings as an example, interest rates vary greatly from one provider to the next and these are changing by the day. It is important to stay alert for a better return.”
Savings and investment app boss
Talking of savings, the founder and CEO of savings and investment app Plum believes fintech is well placed to ride out the economic storm.
Victor Trokoudes said: “Here at Plum, we’d like to see the fintech industry rising to the challenges that lie ahead in 2023 and fulfilling its potential. We’re heading towards a recession, but tough economic times bring opportunities and we feel that fintechs, including apps like Plum, are uniquely placed to help people get through what lies ahead.
“While higher risk or nice-to-have, non-essential propositions may become less popular, there will be new ways to use fintech that are ideally suited to a turbulent financial climate. It will be exciting to see what we as an industry can achieve.”
Trokoudes would also like to see closer ties between the UK and EU. He added: “We’d also like the Government to develop closer relationships with the EU, as we continue the expansion of the Plum product across Europe.
“The Government has indicated it’s moving in this direction, with potentially closer regulatory alignment, albeit within the commitment of not being part of a single market. It would be great to see a long-term plan for growth and improved productivity that is international in outlook.
Fintech lender boss
Josh Levy, CEO of Ultimate Finance, likely speaks for the whole fitntech community when he said he wants “the war in Ukraine to come to a swift conclusion with no further suffering by the Ukrainian population”.
Also on Levy’s wishlist is “the Government to find a better balance between fiscal responsibility and promoting growth as well as protecting vulnerable households and businesses” as is “SMEs to take proactive action regarding their funding needs and take specialist advice from accountants, brokers and other advisers as appropriate” and “greater adoption of open finance secure data exchange practices”.
What Levy doesn’t want in his Santa sack is “excessive Government intervention in the business finance market” and “the continuation of supply chain friction coming out of China in particular”.
Open banking boss
Meanwhile, the CEO of open banking platform Nordigen, is keeping his Christmas wish list close to home.
Rolands Mesters said: “In 2023, I would like to see open banking be utilised more heavily within industries across Europe that could really benefit from accurate, updated financial data, such as the lending sector.
He adds:” I would also like to see adoption rates for open banking continue to grow. The opportunities that open banking provides within the financial sector are massive, and it can significantly simplify, streamline and automate processes across various industries.
“However, open banking is currently still underutilised. As open banking will continue to grow across Europe and elsewhere, financial service companies will continue to evolve and create better user experiences for their customers.”
Stock trading platform boss
Finally, Matt Leibowitz, co-founder and CEO, Stake, admits he might be in the minority choosing the top of his wishlist. He said: “While it’s probably not at the top of most people’s lists, I’d love Santa to give everyone the skills and confidence to keep sight of their long term financial goals.
“The markets are one of the best ways to build wealth, and if we’re able to think rationally and avoid an emotional response, this leads to better outcomes. In terms of books, Mastering the Market Cycle by Howard Marks is a great one for the situation we’re in today.”
And on the flip side, he would like to see the rise of social media grind to a halt, accusing it of being a playground for scammers.
He adds: “The meteoric rise in online investment scams on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok are something we all need to see the end of in 2023. Today, many people are especially financially vulnerable, and if scams and bad advice are allowed to proliferate as they have, they’ll pose an elevated risk over the next year. Some scammers are advertising via social media to hook potential victims, meaning the tech giants are often profiting.”