With its high GDP, 2nd highest e-commerce volume in Asia and high rate of technological adoption, Japan presents a high potential for Fintech investment and adoption. However, the uptake has been lukewarm so far, owing to significant cultural and regulatory obstacles with Japanese investments accounted for only 0.40 percent of the roughly US$12 billion invested into Fintech globally in 2014, according to a report by Accenture.
According to Investopedia, “Fintech is a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century”. Originally, the term described technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. Since then that definition has expanded significantly to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.
As the world goes through a period of dynamic change and volatility, our CEO, Markus Lampinen in collaboration with Grow VC Group Chairman, Jouko Ahvenainen and Jean-Michel Pailhon, a fintech expert with 15 years of experience in the international financial services sector, take a look a closer look at technology developments globally in conjunction with the global economics and political ecosystem.
2016, a look in the rearview mirror
In mid-2016, the marketplace lending sector experienced some turmoil leading to increased scrutiny from regulators and institutional investors’ concerns about the securitization process and the quality of the underlying loans. However, this slowdown was temporary and personal marketplace loans globally grew by 210% (+64% for small business marketplace loans).
In recent times, everywhere one turns, disruption seems to impacting every aspect of the diversified financial services space, leaving no sector unturned whether it is in lending, borrowing, alternative finance or investment space. Financial technology coupled with social media input is altering the dynamic of the sector in pushing costs lower while creating a more efficient but equally more personalized user experience for investors and borrowers.
As new technologies emerge, they tend to enhance the existing ecosystem by converging with other technologies, eventually transforming various industries. Within the realm of Fintech, the two technologies that are on the verge of transforming it are Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Speaking with a peer from the banking industry, a claim arose that the problem with banks nowadays is that in the contemporary fast-paced environment, they are not able to compete with fintech disruptors and are paying for decades of missed investments in innovation.
It’s amazing to think we’re at the end of 2016, but so we are and it’s time to look ahead to all the materialization we may expect from the digitalization of financial services in 2017.
Turning our attention to Eastern Europe, the beautiful country of Czech Republic, steeped in history, catches our attention. With focus of the fintech world concentrated on hubs such as New York, Silicon Valley, London and Berlin, Prague seems to run under the radar for the most part but given that Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe, it can’t afford to fall behind. Looking at the figure below, we see that there are a number of successful fintech firms comprising the Czech ecosystem.
It’s no secret that markets gravitate toward greater efficiency with financial services being no different. As we often cover market segments ranging from peer to peer lending, wealth management / robo advisory and online syndication / crowdfunding marketplaces, the innovation emerging is multifaceted and rapid. It’s directed towards reducing friction and better overall service quality or user experience in financial services contexts. But what does this really mean - a future where software developers replace bankers as the architects of financial services?