We are already used to paying at the supermarket checkout via a smartphone and receiving banking services from “robots.” We can take small personal loans online. We are not surprised by the news about the endlessly growing bitcoin exchange rate. Digital has changed the world of finance in recent years, but the digital revolution in the industry has just begun.
According to CB Insights, U.S. fintech startups raised $12.8 billion in the first quarter of 2021, a 220% increase over the same period in 2020.
Investment and technology flow in the coming years will change the digital world and perhaps the global economy. We’ll try to highlight five key trends that deserve special attention in 2022.
The New Era of Mobile Banking
One of the major discoveries of the smartphone era is the ability to launch a bank that provides services without physical bank branches, exclusively online. Mobile banking has long been a familiar part of our lives. But it used to be introduced mainly through traditional banks, which also retained branch-based service options.
The new generation of fintech startups completely abandons physical bank branches and focuses on innovation, attracting users with convenient and straightforward services. Due to low costs, online banks can offer users lower rates and higher interest rates. This is their advantage over traditional banks, which lack the infrastructure and motivation to innovate more. On the other hand, digital banks will have to deal with new cybersecurity, analytics, and customer communication issues.
According to a Statista study, online banking will reach 2.5 billion users worldwide by 2024.
One of the biggest challenges for fintech startups is compatibility with industry regulations and standards. The departure of the financial world into the “digital” is new opportunities and new fraud risks new cybersecurity challenges.
Regtech technologies are designed to provide the fastest and cheapest possible adjustment of fintech companies to the standards and legal requirements. But more importantly, they are designed to protect users’ assets from hackers and fraudsters. By protecting users, fintech also protects its competitive advantages and reputation.
Today, regtech’s arsenal includes artificial intelligence and Big Data tools that enable large-scale monitoring of transactions, detecting suspicious activity and violations. Detected information can be transmitted to regulators and law enforcement agencies in real-time. In the future, KYC identification standards, biometrics, and blockchain will perform well in the Regtech sphere. Investments in these areas of fintech look highly promising.
Today, open banking refers to an initiative where banks can share their data with fintech companies and other financial institutions. This can be implemented through software interfaces (APIs) that give a website or application access to a bank’s database.
It would seem, why would traditional banks want to share their data with anyone? Ironically, open banking helps them stay competitive. This is the only way for banks to provide the best service and the widest opportunities to the user.
So, an account aggregator can be implemented with open banking. A user can access all their accounts through one convenient application. These tools allow a user to manage their finances more effectively.
Financial institutions can also benefit from open banking. For example, lenders can quickly assess a customer’s lending risks or personalize interest rates on loans for them.
Growth of FaaS & BaaS
What happens if we apply the logic of “Software as a Service” to fintech products? Such approaches are already being tested. Some online banks are making their products and technology available to third parties by testing a subscription model. The concepts of fintech-as-a-service (FaaS) and banking-as-a-service (BaaS) have emerged to describe such systems.
This system can be implemented through software interfaces (APIs), smart contracts, or blockchain. FaaS and BaaS platforms are much like the idea of open banking but go even further. Instead of just sharing data, banks also provide their tools to partners. Such a platform can include payment processing, KYC verification, credit and account management systems.
Subscription platforms offer an easy way for businesses to get into fintech. You can use other people’s technology instead of developing your own. It allows you to bring new products to market quickly and cheaply and test innovative ideas and hypotheses.
Of course, the approach “as a service” has limitations: dependence on other people’s technology, lack of flexibility, and scalability. But the trend is still in demand and will grow very quickly.
Blockchain & Decentralized Finance
The idea of decentralized finance has been discussed for many years – since the birth of bitcoin about ten years ago, or even longer. Today, any financial system operates centrally: banks and financial institutions mediate credit processes and enforce contracts.
But what will happen if we create a system in which everyone can freely use financial products without the mediation of brokers and banks? A new ecosystem is envisioned that will change every financial sector: from stock trading to insurance. Advocates of decentralization insist that it will reduce the risks of large-scale financial crises because then the finances of entire countries will no longer be dependent on a few systemic banks.
In theory, blockchain should be the key to such a system. Data stored through this technology cannot be changed or deleted, providing transparency, anonymity, and transaction security for all parties.
Cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance have at least $40 billion in assets today, and we have seen explosive growth in the value of Eterium and Bitcoin throughout 2021. This is already a global industry that is affecting the macroeconomy.