As 21st century’s technology get cheaper, more powerful and more flexible, it is looking ever more likely that many of the traditional professional services will no longer need to be provided by actual humans. Automation services, building on the combined forces of big data, cloud technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are now prime to become the next big bang. Current solutions range from business intelligence and data processing to payroll assistance and cost analytics (insert link to s4it blog). Big players are already on the scene: Last October, KPMG and PwC both announced their first forays in the automation field, with KPMG introducing the KPMG Enterprise investment and Pwc launching their MyFinancePartner portal. With more products to be introduced later this year, we expect to see major disruptions in the market landscape very soon. Read More
The race for real-time digital interaction in financial service is really heating up. After the 100% digital “online-first” banks of Fidor AG and Atom Bank, we are now seeing the first ever “mobile-first” bank, or more accurately a “smartphone bank”. Number26, a 2 years-old start-up from Germany who in April raised their first significant round of VC fund from Valar Ventures (10 million Euros), is the first to coin the term, and is promising to completely change the usual banking experience with current accounts. Read More
Trust has always been a major factor throughout the development of finance. In using a currency, traders put trust in its liquidity and guaranteed value. In using a payment system, merchants trust that as long as they are paying gatekeeping fees to a central authority, they can have an insurance against fraudsters. Read More
In a previous post we discussed the plausibility and benefits of a government-backed digital currency, particularly one based on the cryptocurrency model. We found that while the available technologies and protocols are highly promising, central banks still need to overcome some big hurdles before they could truly roll out the concept. On one side, such system will need to prove its efficacy in terms of performance to businesses and banks. On the other side, it also needs to show consumer-level users how it would be more secure and convenient to use in everyday transactions than current forms of money.
– It is undeniable: in this information age, cash is becoming more and more unfavorable to regulators. Indeed its alternative – the digital currency – has all the advantages that regulators want: real time settlement, little transaction cost, absence of counterfeit money and reliable traceability (which renders tax evasion and money laundering near impossible). However, a lack of suitable and practical technology has been holding central banks back from realising these benefits, and for the most part of the decade we have only seen private application of the digital currencies. It was not until the rise of the cryptocurrency (a subset of digital currency) that central banks really started to consider adopting an official government-backed digital currency – one that utilise the innovative model of distributed ledger
To some extent, the FinTech movement is not necessarily an all-out revolution. Indeed many FinTech solutions bear marks of the traditional roots of retail banking. For instance in our last post we mentioned Peer-to-Peer (P2P) platforms and the shift towards frictionless transactions and disintermediation. While the former is undoubtedly a product of new technology advances, the latter is not at all novel. Effectively P2P platforms could be more accurately viewed as a transparent and frictionless version of the traditional financial intermediary model. Read More
For quite some time, innovation in banking was highly scrutinised and frowned upon. Fresh out of the big crisis, at first all that people could associate with the term was debt securitisation and risky investments. With regulation also tightened up (especially for incumbents), this seemingly created the notion that banking was to remain a stronghold from innovation and that disruptive waves from technology advances would not affect the industry as a whole. And yet, almost a decade later, that notion no longer holds true. FinTech innovators with solutions that tackle real customers’ needs whilst guaranteeing a top-notch user experience, are redefining how banking should work.
Premise: you are the CEO of a hot and well-funded start-up, in your early twenties to thirties. The press has started referring to your company as the next big break to watch. Sounds all good? Not quite. Investors are pushing fervently for more and more growth, but you are unsure whether the company can technically and operationally handle the expanded amount of service. You don’t know which business processes can stay relatively unchanged and which need to be upgraded. You can’t tell who in the firm is delivering good services and who isn’t. Worse still, time isn’t on your side. All of these quickly pile up while you are pushed to the edge of your nerve. Eventually you suffer from the “founder depression” syndrome *
Growth by default is the number one priority for start-ups. Understandably, the only reason why investors would want to put money into businesses with no collateral is capital gains. While the average investment’s required churn out is usually a reasonable 10-20% annual ROI, venture capitalists expect start-ups to grow at a substantially higher, and in some cases near impossible, rate. What this means for the young business is that operation will always have to be pushed towards a constant growth goal when many of their processes are not yet ready for the job.
As the Financial Service revolution gains traction, FinTech start-ups can soon expect a period of rapid growth.
Scaling up however, is no piece of cake. Technical challenges aside, a company’s processes should also be re-assessed for compatibility with any additional operational capacity. Unsurprisingly, process problems – or gaps – are a common sight in young businesses trying to expand in scale or scope, regardless of which field they operate in. Read More