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 leaders at Minna Technologies, FINOVATOR, FINTECH Circle and Moniepoint.
We must ‘solve real problems’
As we find ourselves in a very profound time of global change, fintech must try to better serve their consumers, says Tiama Hanson-Drury, chief product officer at Swedish fintech Minna Technologies.
“Fintech must work hard to deliver genuine utility to people who face real and growing challenges. It’s no longer about ‘ease of use’ and all about ‘ease of life’.
“With the exponential growth of subscriptions and acceleration of digital transformation during the pandemic to the coming of age of Gen Z, the largest generational cohort in history, and millennials and the rising cost of living, both consumers and businesses are navigating turbulent times where fundamental expectations, consumer behaviour and market dynamics have shifted significantly.
“Fintech will move forward when it solves real problems for consumers, when it enables banks to better serve their consumers and when it starts to be the bridge efficiencies and interconnectivity into business at large.”
We need to stay focussed
Michelle Beyo, CEO & founder of fintech strategy firm FINAVATOR suggests that in times of recession, fintech companies should take the long view instead of hibernating.
“Which begins by accepting that recessions are a cyclical and unavoidable part of the economy,” she says. “Four elements that could facilitate a fintech’s success in a recession include forming strategic partnerships, staying agile and embracing open banking followed by open finance, and investing in female fintech founders.
“Firstly, partnering with banks for long-term win-win collaboration can give nimble and innovative fintechs the ability to quickly grow their customer base and allow banks to leverage their personalised and digital-first products and services that can help consumers during financial challenges such as a recession.
“Secondly, with open banking gradually becoming a reality and open finance to follow, financial services have expanded their reach into a broader range of sectors including insurance and wealth. This could allow a new generation of fintech companies who could go on to build robust products and services built on open banking and open finance. Investment activity into fintech supports this projection.
“Lastly, a weak economy is disproportionately bad news for female founders. It is important that we do not lose sight of the disparity that exists across the fintech funding landscape. Female fintech leaders bring unique perspectives to the fintech ecosystem with the greatest number of women in top management having a 41 per cent higher return on equity than the average.”
We need to create a financial system that caters to all
The financial and fintech sectors have a huge responsibility towards society overall, says Susanne Chishti, CEO of global fintech community FINTECH Circle.
“Fintech has the power to encourage innovation to make financial wellbeing more achievable for individuals and help businesses to make a real difference in people’s lives,” she says.
“The current cost of living crisis is having sweeping effects on the day to day lives of UK consumers. This will have an impact on financial firms ranging from the amount of money customers will have at any point in time to how SMEs will react to potential cash flow issues.
“That’s why in 2023 the priority is to create a financial system that caters to all – so financial inclusion is not a buzzword but starts at home where four million people in the UK still have no bank account. With more households running deficit budgets, we can be certain of a huge increase in late payments, mortgage defaults and bad debts that will drastically change the personal finances of millions for years to come.
“How financial services responds to this will be key to how our society develops into the future. I am sure that the fintech sector can contribute to society’s safety net in this high inflationary environment making ‘Fintech for Good’ a reality.”
We need to boost trust levels
Tosin Eniolorunda, founder and CEO of global business payments and banking platform Moniepoint (formerly TeamApt), a fintech providing business and banking solutions to SMBs, says it’s all about growing trust.
“In emerging markets, including Africa, fintechs have made great strides to digitise payments and operations for businesses and consumers in recent years,” he explains. “However, ensuring that these products are trusted among users is becoming increasingly important. For example, in Nigeria, online bank transfers are becoming an extremely popular method for consumers to pay businesses as they move away from cash.
“But businesses are mostly untrusting of this solution, because of issues related to delayed settlement times and the risk of fraud from poor KYC checks. Building solutions that provide better KYC checks and instant settlements can help to boost trust levels as businesses adopt digital solutions in these markets. A greater focus on tackling these trust issues will be essential in 2023 to accelerate the adoption of digital financial services on the continent.”