Why Fintech Has Been, and Will Continue to Be, One of the Biggest Industries in the World
In the last few years fintech has taken a prime spot in R&D, investment and market value, and is increasingly crucial to the progress of financial services and the growth of businesses worldwide. Here to tell us why, and offer particular insight into the development of this key sector is Gary Turner, Co-founder and UK Managing Director of globally leading accounting software programme, Xero.
Fintech, despite being amongst the newest global industries, is already one of the most vital in terms of supporting the growth of businesses across the world. At the time of publication, there are 1,362 fintech companies across 54 countries with the US, UK and China holding strong as innovators and market leaders in financial innovation. Globally, businesses are working to become entirely digital, and early disruptors saw the opportunity to create a financial digital platform to perfectly compliment the modern way of working – the timing and execution of fintech allowed it to become the biggest industry in the world. But for the less initiated, this raises questions around how fintech has had such an influence in macro and micro economics.
The key is simple – it creates a level playing field for businesses who aren’t restricted by software. SMB growth can often be restricted by the online tools available within budget, the data they have access to, and how quickly they can access it – all of these shortcomings have been recognised and seen as potential by the fintech industry. By using cloud-based software, business owners can interact with a real-time system of record, something that was previously only available to enterprise companies. This has helped create a central platform for small businesses and owners to share information with other businesses and partners, as industry relationships can be improved and built upon through open data.
Numbers in real time
Another relationship that has evolved is the one between a business owner and their finances. Originally, owners would have a recurring meeting with their accountant to get a briefing on their business’ performance, but cloud software has changed the routine. Now, with improvements to financial technology, owners can now log-in anytime to check in on the numbers that keep the business running. The advantages for an owner to oversee trends on a daily basis are paramount to their success, with charts and graphs making it simple to understand where you are over or under servicing. Quick data allows for quick action. Having data readily available in one place gives a business understanding of what their customers need.
Public vs private
This brings to light what fintech means for the private sector, and the public sector is looking to learn just how it can improve the way they work too. In the UK we have being trying to streamline the HMRC and other departments’ services by shifting to a digital services model – this is an example of institutions recognising how critical real-time financial data is for business success. In early 2017 the HMRC announced new concessions to the policy to support small businesses who were struggling with some of the technicalities of the roll-out – while most businesses will have access to a personalised digital tax account by the end of the roll out, free software will be available to the majority of small businesses, while those that cannot go digital will not be required to. Despite the recent changes, the overarching vision of the Making Tax Digital policy will ultimately be of benefit for the UK’s business infrastructure, as the appetite for digital services is growing and traditional paper-based processes gradually becomes obsolete.
A global change
The UK private and public sector have felt it necessary to make these seismic changes, and it’s interesting to see how it translates across the world. Unsurprisingly the US, UK, Europe and China have had the largest fintech investment in the past five years, but India is one country that has expanded its offering, with a $2.2 billion investment – the money being pumped into the global industry is phenomenal. Beyond the usual suspects, Luxembourg has experienced huge growth in its digital economy in the past 10 years and has invested substantially into its world-class IT infrastructure, all of which is provided to entrepreneurs looking to innovate in the fintech sector. Similarly, Hong Kong has earmarked $250 million for an innovation and technology fund designed to match funding from venture capital outlays in local tech startups.
It’s these reasons and more that has allowed fintech to evolve, but the growth isn’t forecasted to slow down. In the past 12 months, there has been more than $1 trillion worth of transactions processed, with more money comes potential for more learnings, the potential for more learnings must derive from intelligent software – this thirst for insight will only see the financial web grow more powerful.
With monumental funding and innovative initiative schemes, the next 12 months will only see the industry go from strength to strength as the rollout becomes commonplace for all businesses across the globe.