Start-ups enter the market with new IT-based business ideas, as they offer digital services for financial transactions. FinTechs develop innovative solutions to save, invest, borrow, transfer, spend, and protect money. This is far more than financial technology.
It involves internet platforms that bring together borrowers and lenders using the peer-to-peer principle (with no visible need for banks), cloud-based payment methods, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins that make cash unnecessary. Based on networks and communities, these social innovations are extremely customer-oriented. Thanks to the mobile internet, they are available anywhere and anytime, which makes them considerable time and cost cutters.
Digital finance and investment transactions
FinTechs offer easier processing and a more convenient user experience. This includes new real-time identification processes via mobile apps or web browsers, secure contactless mobile payments, faster lending through credit assessment via social media, big data, and auto-learning algorithms.
Another growth segment is automated asset management, which is said to be superior to human performance. Unlike in Europe, where digital investing through robo-advisors is only emerging, the practice is already well-established in the US. The example of FinTech company Betterment illustrates this. Well over 175,000 clients have entrusted total assets of more than $6 billion to the company, which advertises itself as an intelligent advisory platform for automated financial and investment transactions.
Automation and insurance
The insurance industry is interesting for FinTechs and InsurTechs because insurers are still adjusting to the digital age. Their business models and products are based on the traditional principles of risk pooling and the calculation of average premiums and prices, all of which is increasingly conducted by digital technologies.
Whether wearables such as fitness bracelets, connected cars, or smart homes, in the era of the Internet of Things, a growing number of connected devices create new data sources for innovative products in the insurance sector. InsurTechs specializing in insurance automation jump on these opportunities.
U.S. health insurance provider Oscar Health is a pioneer in this field. It partners with wearable device company Misfit and rewards fit members, as they automatically link their biometric data via a fitness tracker straight to their health insurance account.
Neural networks: communication and creativity
Even consulting and risk analysis are about to be delivered by computers and software, at least in parts. Artificial intelligence progresses to the extent that, over time, machines will provide services that include communication and creativity. In cooperation with smart FinTechs, financial services will be offered in increasingly automated ways that utilize algorithms, artificial neural networks, and the appropriate business models.
The new competitors force traditional banking institutions and other financial service providers into innovation. However, should they succeed in adapting their products and processes to technological and social change, FinTechs, by way of their competitive advantages, can above all be creative strategy partners that support established players.
The topics here presented dealt with future and innovation. They were developed in cooperation with the Zukunftsinstitut, which, as one of the most influential think tanks in European trend research, continuously investigates the changes taking place in business and society.