The financial services industry has always tried to embrace new technologies in order to offer additional convenience to customers and operate more efficiently. But in recent years with the rise of cloud-based apps and mobile technology, there has been a new wave of technological innovation that is driving growth and launching promising new businesses in the financial services sector: this is the rise of fintech. The fintech industry has become one of the most exciting industries for investors and technology enthusiasts because the rise of new financial technologies is making it possible for banks and financial firms to offer new levels of convenience, efficiency, cost savings and even the ability to develop entirely new financial products that were never possible before. Fintech startups are finding new ways to process payments, collect donations, and loan money – and they’re doing it with online software and an emphasis on speed, convenience and mobile technology.
Here are a few of the reasons why the fintech industry is worthy of its recent buzz:
The Financial Services Industry is Ripe for Disruption
The financial services sector is often thought of as being a slow-moving, heavily regulated industry that is full of big, entrenched players, making it slow to change. However, the truth is, financial services is one of the industries that is most prepared for disruption by innovative outsiders. According to a survey of Inc. 500 CEOs, financial services was rated #2 of the top five sectors that are ripe for disruption (#1 was health care). The established big banks should not be too smug and complacent – many small companies are looking for new ways to deliver financial services more efficiently and in a way that better serves customers, and customers are starting to notice that there are excellent online tools available to process payments and manage other banking tasks.
Fintech Cuts Costs
A recent article from The Economist found that online lenders (some of the most prominent fintech startups) tend to have a much lower cost structure than traditional banks. For example, online lenders typically have business expenses that are only about 2 percent of their average outstanding loan balance, compared to 5-7 percent for traditional bank lenders. Fintech firms are typically able to reduce costs because they often operate online, without the costs and bureaucracy of a traditional bank’s network of brick-and-mortar branch locations. Lower costs make it possible for online lenders to issue loans more affordably, or serve a broader base of customers who might not have been able to get loans from a traditional bank.
Consumers are Ready for Fintech
People love their smartphones, and mobile apps have quickly become the everyday assistants of billions of people all over the world. People are using their smartphones and mobile devices to research products, shop online, and exchange confidential information about health care, insurance and many other aspects of their personal and financial lives – so why should financial services be any different? Consumers (and small business owners) are more comfortable than ever with online banking, mobile technologies for financial services, and other key trends in the shift to mobile marketing. This presents a huge opportunity to fintech firms.
For example, an article from the Financial Times found that transaction volume at traditional brick-and-mortar bank branches has decreased by one third in the past six years, as consumers are starting to do more of their routine banking business via online and mobile banking. The Adobe 2015 Mobile Consumer report found that 75 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers want to do online banking each month, more than 20 percent of Millennials (and 14 percent of Gen Xers) say that they want to apply for banking products online, and more than half of U.S. and U.K. mobile consumers would like to use mobile-only banking services.
The rise of fintech is keeping with several other key trends: the rise of mobile technology, the innovation of online software apps, and the growing appetite of consumers for more online and mobile banking. Anyone who is interested in seeing the latest opportunities for business growth and the evolution of the consumer economy should pay attention to the continuing rise of the fintech sector.