What Is FinTech?
FinTech, or financial technology, is a class of businesses that use software to provide financial services. The Wharton FinTech Club offers the following definition:
Fin·Tech noun: an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial systems more efficient.
Generally startups, FinTech companies are typically established with the purpose of shaking up the present financial systems that are less software-reliant. They cover a broad range of industries from peer-to-peer lending (Lending Club) and crowdfunding (Kickstarter) to thematic investing (Motif Investing) and algorithmic asset management (WealthFront), and also function in areas such as data collection (2iQ Research), education lending (CommonBond), cyber security (iDGate), and payments (Xoom), to name a few. The common theme of FinTech companies is their ability to build and implement technology that makes financial markets and systems more efficient.
“The Rise of FinTech – New York’s Opportunity for Tech Leadership“, a report by Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City, reveals that global investment in FinTech endeavors has tripled to nearly $3 billion in 2013 from approximately $1 billion in 2008. According to Economist, in 2014 FinTech firms attracted $12 billion in investment, and Goldman Sachs estimates revenues in the sector worth $4.7 trillion. Uniquely, this investment seems to be happening in a rather geographically dispersed manner.
FinTech companies are reducing fraud, easing payment processes, saving money, and promoting financial planning. Applications of cryptocurrency block chains for problems such as online identity, and leveraging large amorphous social media data sources for better underwriting decision-making, are a few advances being researched and implemented by FinTech companies. However, it should be noted that the financial industry has traditionally been dominated by big firms that are often resistant to change – the big banks being a prime example. This psychological obstacle may prove to be a fundamental challenge, and FinTech companies hoping for widespread adoption of new financial technologies have a lot of work ahead – overcoming institutional apathy and regulations, and both acquiring and retaining public trust.
Remarkable FinTech Startups of 2015
The idea behind OnDeck is to provide small business owners will alternatives to bank loans. It uses a proprietary method to evaluate creditworthiness that improves upon the personal credit checks banks rely on, and this has seen businesses flocking to OnDeck. Furthermore, loans can be processed much faster, within a day, while banks may take weeks to make a decision.
A service that began in 2010 to alert users to hidden bank and credit card charges, the company has expanded into an almost comprehensive spending tracker and fraud monitor. With apps for both iOS and Android, warnings can be pushed to user devices when anomalies are detected, and to date BillGuard claims to have flagged over $60 million in suspicious transactions.
This financial decision-making tool has shifted focus exclusively to real estate and mortgage decisions. Offering their listing platform for free, Planwise has had high adoption across the US, and the startup is now ready to battle the major players in the market.
Epiphyte is a relatively new company that provides software and consulting that helps banks deal with Bitcoin and crypto-currency platforms – a much-needed service considering that Bitcoins are increasingly being deemed an asset class.
By Jennifer Klostermann