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What is FinTech and where does it Live?

Abstract – A few years back, I had a fascinating discussion about Fintech. Today every 3rd if not 4th profile on LinkedIn is about FinTech Expert. Few days ago someone asked me a million dollar question “What is FinTech?” I was intrigued with such a small, simple question but found it difficult to answer this to a person who is not from those 4 people from linkedin. My simple briefing note to answer this question was, “Fintech is a technical tool to support financial services”, making it simple for everyone on this planet earth along with promoting idea of “Financial Services as a basic right for every human being”. 

Financial technology, also known as fintech, is an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial services more efficient. Why it is so inherently difficult to define the concept of Fintech, is because definitions change over time. Alternatively, traditional banking organizations are hindered by legacy operating systems, capacity to innovate, agility and technology expertise.

The word “Fintech” actually made its way into the Oxford dictionary and is defined as “Computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services”. Turning to Wikipedia, it defines “Fintech” as “Financial technology, also known as FinTech, is a line of business based on using software to provide financial services. Financial technology companies are generally startups founded with the purpose of disrupting incumbent financial systems and corporations that rely less on software.”


Introduction- Brexit!, Britain decided or voted to move out of European union and one wonders whether people who voted for it actually understand and did their homework on the impact it will bring; negative or positive. Guess should not be discussed here at all but surely impact related to Fintech world is of great concern. London usually (or was now) considered as capital of FinTech was considered at least if not acted fully as a global trading hub for over 500 years with the Roman Empire once extended to it.

FinTech had found a cosy home in a city that had access to all that FinTech needed to make it prosper – resources for innovation, traditional financial services, digital world, innovative tech talent, capital as raw materiel, collaborative support, progressive regulatory powers, a seat at the European and global table. It seemed to many that the ‘Brexit’ vote was a vote that threw all of that away. As people who worked in FinTech, as those who made their lives in London, what did this vote mean for the future of our businesses, and the lives of our friends? Anyways Idea of this post is not to focus too much on Brexit but focus on FinTech and where FinTech lives.

What will happen to trade, markets, global talent and day to day life cost, currency jumping bed and how FinTech can still find its home in this storm. Right after Brexit news, The Strong Man(pound) lost 10% and the markets were in turmoil. It wasn't in accordance to script and the uncertainly was driving analysts mad. Indian regulators released a framework for payment and settlement systems in India, with a view of moving towards “less-cash” society and ensuring access of mobile banking or mobile payment services to even basic phone users.

RBI (Indian Reserve Bank) encourage greater use of electronic payments by all sections of society so as to achieve a “less-cash” society. Government can help Fintech firms in many ways other than giving subsidies or investing in them. Introducing startups friendly policies, regulations, lowering entry barriers and creating required talent pool to support these firms are just some of initiatives to achieve “less- cash” society.

Main Story- In financial services institutions, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Technology officers (CTOs) play a key role in managing cost control initiatives in line with the growth plans. They are in the driving seat of many such initiatives that not only have a bearing on the profitability of the organization but also its long term sustenance and stability. Decades of existence as the central pillar of the financial ecosystem has made most financial institutions slow on growth and equally slow in lowering cost unless driven to. However, the emergence of Fintechs has shaken this landscape drastically forcing banking organizations to transform and retain their financial stronghold.

Start-ups do not have legacy technology systems or large brick-and-mortar infrastructures that can be costly to maintain or change. Nonbank innovators also may have specialized technical knowledge, experience, and skills with respect to emerging technology and trends. By employing their respective advantages, banks and nonbank innovators can benefit from collaboration. Through strategic and prudent collaboration, banks can gain access to new technologies, and nonbank innovators can gain access to funding sources and large customer bases.

None of the definitions provided above for fintech are right or wrong as such. Defining Fintech is easy as well as a difficult task. If we are to consider one payment element which can be defined as “An action done by accepter of goods or services in form of cash handed over or funds transferred through credit card or online/ internet method. Where mobile device is used thats called as mobile payments. In one line, completion of a process of exchange of good or services with Money (Any form), the action or process of paying someone or something or of being paid.” FinTech actually steps in to make this process seamless and easy. There is need for certainty on what we require, either banking from banks or banking from Fintech, despite the proclamations of some visionary fintech founders that banks aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

The engine under the hood of big banks —compliance and money-transfer systems — are simply too difficult for any startup to replace, which is why tech players like Apple Pay are still built on top of existing bank systems and payment rails. Banking, Payments, Remittances, Fintech (Itself), commerce, Mobile Financial Services and New Coins (Bitcoin etc.) are an integral part of “A Fintech”.

To maintain the dominance banks have enjoyed up to this point and retain the luxury, banks need a radical redesign of their customer-facing assets. If banks fail to overhaul their exteriors to offer a personalized, best-in-class product experience, they will be relegated to supplying the engine for sleeker-looking tech companies in 10 years’ time. If I merge logic with magic to make it Malegic (My Logic) and with same malegic I can comfortable say “A Bank” does not belong to any company or investor or individual, it belongs to customers who have made it what it has become because they played Professionalism, Personalisation with diligence, fairness but unfortunately not any longer as with time, KING (Customer) demand and needs change. Banks in modern time have gone under receivership, forcing consumers to resort to either mattress banks or find better alternate.

The reason for this paradigm shift is because new Fintech start-ups (some) lack the scale, capitalization, reputation of security, ability to navigate complex regulations and the product scope of traditional financial firms. Most Fintech start-ups have remain resilient and firm in strong turbulence and getting happy.

The digital money under fintech remain firm from tsunami that poised radical change to almost every industry, banking hall, brands and chopped off the plans of progress. FinTech helped and pushed digital currencies to the level where it has changed the way people pay and get paid. Mobile network operators (MNOs) can now piggy back on their existing networks to offer financial services, which were NOT originally in their strategic plans when they were formed. This was an opportunity that presented itself and found the mobile operators ready to grab it. 

Banks initially raised issues in that cellular operators were now offering banking services and yet they didn’t pay for the banking licenses or were not registered financial institutions. Rather than accepting the fact and appreciating the innovation banks became crying children’s. The hectic pace of change in payment systems – online, mobile, virtual wallets and smart watches, among others – means that all businesses need to remain alert to the latest trends and developments, whilst banks said who so ever is dreaming this must be smoking too much weed.

Fintech lives in entrepreneurs office’s irrespective of their geographical locations. Fintech and their customers are paying for goods and services in new ways which is still a future for many banks. The new ways will continue to change and proliferate as time goes on. Mobile Payments are expected to explode beyond 3 trillion euros by 2020, Mobile Money savings beyond 2 billion USD for few African countries. Mobile Money is not just cash in, cash out via agents any more or P2P money transfer. Africa has given new and very different dimension with speed like the blink of an eye, getting Money from Asia, UK or anywhere in the world within seconds around the world, 24X7 directly into wallets, facilitating bill payments, merchant payments, loans, insurance a never ending story. "It wasn't an interesting space to be in some time back.

Fintech brought a significant change in an industry that as recent as last few years back viewed Fintech firms as competitors but 2014 was the fuelling year, 2015 was at explosion and 2016 started with less speed compare to 2015 with greater emphasis on stability. Back in time the view was that there are just such strong monopolies, in terms of the existing banks... and no one's built a successful payments company since PayPal.

Banks should take back seat as clerk for reconciliations and accounting units and regulator should allow MFS companies to innovate and bring new solutions and products in no time and make customers life easy, less costly and much much faster, see my post Technology for Finance long seen as a highly technical, rocket science, highly complex and never to be understandable by rest of the world except few companies or individuals, highly regulated industry dominated by giant banks that resist disruption--other than the occasional global meltdown--finance is now riding an entrepreneurial wave.

Demand for upstarts' services is strong, piqued by widespread frustration with big banks; supply is growing, fuel-ed in part by financial types itching to do something other than toil inside those same mega-corporations. In todays time “I don't think anyone enjoys being an investment banker". And low interest rates have made capital available which is a basic raw materiel for any startup, this raw material for many money-related startups, cheap and plentiful.

Ministry of innovation and regulations need to support a sound FinTech system by addressing consumer protection issues and promoting competition in the marketplace. There is also the danger of the regulatory environment becoming less favorable to FinTech companies. If regulations ease for traditional financial services companies or tighten for emerging ones, the balance of growth could change dramatically. Fintech companies and other nonbank innovators have their own advantages. Start-ups with few investors and one or two big ideas often can sometimes move faster than larger and more established organizations. They can focus their energy and resources on a single opportunity.

Among the key criteria that is used by the Global Finance‘s experts are: strategy of customer acquisition and client services, expansion of client base, capability of digital products and success in business development.The term “strategy”, “innovation”, “planning” or “business model”. We use them on a daily basis in our fintech business, yet we have not established one common string to join them together. Hence, having not one single definition for the word Fintech has not and should not prevent us from using it. 

Conclusion – FinTech does not live at any specific location it lives at every mind and heart who is willing to make difference and has potential to take dream forward. One page generic business architecture or generic sense to understand the big picture, parts and key processes of fintech enterprise to customise them to create customers one page enterprise level need of business architec or generic needs of any subscriber; its very important to differentiate between banking and bank needs. In some respects fintech is being revolutionized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. 

Fintech can manage your money automatically for betterment or wealthfront and not pay for investment advice that may or may not outperform the market. Industry & Analysis experts of industry, trade and economic analysts devise and implement international trade, investment, and export promotion strategies that strengthen the global competitiveness of finctech industries. These initiatives unlock export, and investment opportunities for businesses by combining in depth quantitative and qualitative analysis with industry relationships. Fintech companies whose line of business combines software and technology to deliver financial services – will reshape and improve finance by cutting costs and expanding access to financial services.

FinTech companies can create a more diverse and stable credit landscape by gathering data from social-media and other sources to assess the needs of young businesses and borrowers on the fringes of the banking system. A strategy planning process and framework that illustrate how it start with the enterprise environment and subsequently collect and analyse all information about the context and company to formulate their strategies.

To model the Fintech enterprise, its better use a method rather than make things up on the go. A method guarantees results and increases the productivity, predictability, repeatability and reliability of the business modelling and transformation. What would be part of this method though? It is good to have. Most of the FinTech companies wins on the principal of “The ability to relate to people, to inspire and motivate them is what you must ever work on as a leader".


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Vinod Sharma

Vinod Sharma

CTO - FinTech Domain

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe

Member since

20 Jan 2016



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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