Fintech is finding itself at a turning point amid rumblings the industry is ‘losing its lustre’. We’ve seen firms struggle to raise fresh funds, reports of falling valuations, fire sales, staff layoffs and recruitment freezes. Some fintechs have abruptly closed while others have bid their farewells before they’d even had the chance to say hello.
Throughout January on The Fintech Times, we’ve asked industry experts to share how we can move ‘fintech forward’ in the next 12 months.
Today we share the views of Sarah Williams Gardener, Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly, Layla White, Gemma Young and Rodger Desai.
‘We must increase investment and develop skills’
With investment in fintech falling in the UK in 2022, attracting investors becomes more important to ‘ensure the fintech sector continues to grow’, says Sarah Williams Gardener, CEO of FinTech Wales and a founding member of Starling Bank.
“To ensure the fintech sector continues to grow we must increase investment and develop skills. Funding for fintechs in Wales slowed slightly in 2022 compared to 2021, however, we are influencing change to close the funding gap.
“In addition to experienced founders, scaling and established fintechs, we have an engaged and active angel network, support from the Development Bank of Wales and the recently launched CCR Innovation fund. FinTech Wales also works with the City of London to attract new investors to seek out opportunities in the region.
“We will also continue influencing the skills and talent space to ensure fintechs can grow with the staff they require. In the past 12 months alone, FinTech Wales’ members are estimated to have created over 1,000 jobs. Skills was a key concern raised in the Kalifa Review, and one that FinTech Wales has addressed at great lengths as highlighted in our annual report.
“In Wales, we’re very proactive in this space; driving tech graduate numbers up to create a rich pool of talent, as well as building bridges between academic institutions and industry to bring new opportunities to students and graduates. We also have over 22,000 students engaged in fintech-related studies here in Wales and are home to a number of centres of excellence including the National Software Academy.”
Supporting the ‘health of the fintech industry itself’
As the economic environment changes, fintechs must adjust to support financial health for everybody, says Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly, senior VP of banking and payments in Europe for FIS.
“In the last decade, we have seen fintech come of age and begin to transform traditional financial services into an industry fit for the future. But we now find ourselves in a very different macro-economic environment and fintech has a crucial role to play in supporting financial health for everybody, including corporates, consumers and merchants, as well as ensuring the financial health of the fintech industry itself.
“Finding sustainable and healthy business models, gaining competitive advantage through flexible user-friendly products, and bringing niche and future-ready technology to the mainstream, are some of the critical elements to focus on.
“At the same time, we must balance a steady pace of innovative reform, and embrace comprehensive regulation to redefine traditional methodologies and encourage meaningful inclusion of all sections of society. We must maintain our drive to reduce complexity and make financial services secure, accessible, and efficient in 2023 and beyond.”
Embracing social mobility is key
Gemma Young, founder of fintech community Women of FinTech suggests that the cost of living crisis and struggling economy means a focus on social mobility is more important than ever.
“Actionable inclusion of social mobility would really move fintech forward in 2023. We face the cost of living crisis and a downturn in the economy. We should embrace social mobility to have a workforce who can bring a different background to finding solutions to these problems.
“By actionable inclusion I mean that rather than just talking about the importance of diversity, like so many have over the years, that each company chose achievable tasks for the year ahead that they can action to create inclusive workplaces so that diversity can thrive.
“This could be as simple as visibility, having diverse and inspiring speakers come to your company and inspire your workforce. Or you could create a role for someone who couldn’t afford university to learn on the job so that you are supporting social mobility.”
Prioritising the consumer experience
Prioritising the experience of the consumer alongside their security is becoming the most important part of attracting and retaining market share in the coming 12 months, suggests Rodger Desai, co-founder and CEO of Prove.
“Businesses that prioritise the digital consumer experience and modernise their acquisition, transaction, and engagement journeys while controlling for fraud will capture market share in 2023, as consumers flock to and remain loyal to businesses that respect their time and security.
“In a digital world, phones are by far the most secure, accurate, and frictionless way to prove identity, and Prove’s authentication technology will continue to be a key tool in making digital journeys far better.”
Collaboration ‘will drive fintech forward’
Layla White, founder and CEO of onboarding firm Tech Passport, explains the importance of collaboration for fintech in the coming year.
“Collaboration is what will drive fintech forward in 2023. IBM recently reported that 48 per cent of banks had partnered with a fintech in the last three years, while only 12 per cent listed increasing competition from fintechs, showing that collaboration is taking over from competition in this space.
“Through collaboration, we will see the industry rise from strength to strength as we solve issues together for the good of the entire sector.”