There is no doubt that 2017 is set to be another exciting year for FinTech as 2016 draws to a close, paving the way for more forward thinking and disruptive innovations. Reflecting on a year where FinTech has shown its capability to challenge traditional
models, help business and consumers secure better deals, provide better value and faster, more streamlined processes and tools, here are my five predictions for the industry in 2017.
Democratisation of big data to accelerate
Probably the biggest trend will be the continued democratization of data. Access to data is key to financial markets performance and traditionally it has often been captive on proprietary platforms or largely withheld, in easily digestible
forms, from the broad mass of participants. Democratising the access to data, was the triumph of big data 1.0, ensuring that all the analysis and insight generated by this gets automated into actionable market intelligence will be the key victory of big data
2.0. This is has already taken effect in a number of areas - and will accelerate - such as investment decision making, assessing options for holding financial accounts, harnessing new actionable data sources for systematic trading and also the democratisation
of business valuations, allowing financial professionals to prospect more effectively and small business owners to better understand their business' worth.
Artificial intelligence to emerge as vital to fintech's growth
Fintech and AI are natural partners. One of the former's key successes is to make date more accessible, while the latter helps to analyse and action insights the data provides. AI adoption by fintech companies is rapidly gathering pace.
For instance, a number of robo advisers are adding artificial intelligence capabilities to track account activity on their products and other integrated services, others are using AI to analyse and understand how account holders are spending, investing and
making their financial decisions. Some banks are even using AI for customer service. For instance high street bank RBS has developed Luvo, a technology which assists customer service agents in finding answers to customer queries and which has a human personality
and is built to learn continually and improve. While the impact of AI will certainly increase, I also see more traditional wealth managers and financial increasingly harnessing what fintech has to offer to help them counter the rise of robo advisers and re-energise
their business models.
Globally mobile workforce will spur further innovation
A rash of start-ups are aiming to provide more innovative and tech savvy ways of catering to the needs of an increasingly internationally mobile workforce. Nowhere is this greater than in the provision of the core financial needs of these
workers. For instance in retail banking (Monese, Zenbanx), credit (Modernlend, Affirm), foreign exchange and money movement (Transferwise, Azimo, Revolut, World Remit) payments (Alipay, Astropaycard), and investments (Betterment, Goldbean, Nutmeg). As tech-savvy
Millenials, who have a natural aversion to banks, and foreign nationals who come from countries where the penetration of mobile is very high, continue to increase as a proportion of the workforce in Europe and the US, they will drive further innovation and
accelerate the growth of FinTech firms in this area.
Blockchain will come of age
Blockchain has taken the financial services industry by storm over the past couple of years. Next year its impact will be felt more broadly across economies. Certainly financial services firms stand to benefit. A recent report from Santander InnoVentures
suggested the technology could cut bank infrastructure costs for cross-border payments, securities trading and regulatory compliance by $15 billion to $20 billion a year by 2022. However its impact is set to widen significantly. As a report from Accenture
forecasts, "blockchain also has the potential to become a general-purpose technology—a breakthrough, like the steam engine, electricity or the Internet that changes how society and the economy work." The World Economic Forum has predicted that, by 2027, 10
percent of global GDP is likely to be stored on blockchain platforms.
FinTech's social impact to intensify
Finally, over the next year, Fintech's social impact is set to soar. Socially responsible or ethical investing has been growing in popularity and increasingly FinTech firms have been addressing this trend, which is particularly evident among millennials. Those
pioneering FinTech innovation are increasingly using their skills either to set up businesses to help solve social and economic challenges, be it by helping bring charitable causes up to speed in a digital age, helping the underbanked without the financial
or economic identity to participate fully in economic life (BanQuApp) or help low-paid employees access their already earned money (PayActiv).