#Asia Fintech is dead. Long live Fintech!


It’s time to take the focus off fintech and talk about the customer, says Next Bank’s Rob Findlay



For a while now, fintech has been the only game in town. If you’re not talking tech, somehow your ideas and propositions are old hat. It’s a trap that I’ve certainly fallen into but it really needs to stop. We need to be focussing on the customer first. Fintech is merely the way we make banking or finance better. It’s enabler technologies and ideas that improve or replace the way we, the customer, have always done things.

So, let’s look at what fintech is not.

Not about the practice of banking

Let’s look at the main focus or application areas of fintech discussion, activity and investment: payments, lending; wealth management, credit, remittances, FX and cross border transfers. These are all standard areas of banking activity, and have been, even before the word fintech entered our vocabulary.

Not about unique technologies that only banks can leverage

So what are the specific technologies that fintech is utilising? Big (or ‘more’) Data and analytics, leading into the Internet of Things (IoT), social media; collaborative and open innovation platforms, biometrics and wearables are a few of them. And these are technologies used across various industry verticals and not just banking institutions.

Also Read: The rise of fintech’s next generation

Not about all the banks disappearing

Many fintech businesses, ideas and startups are here to help banks transition into the digital era. Enhancing the business model, operating model and customer experience model of a bank will be highly beneficial to the industry, the economy and the customer base.

Not about being a startup

Utilising these technologies across the various sectors of banking, for the sake of making an impact in the industry as a startup is not a unique proposition alone – others can copy, banks can fast follow or acquire. Startups come and go,based on VC funding but many have yet to really make the impact we’re expecting.

Not just about tech!

Building anything digital doesn’t always solve the problems your organisation might have. Building an app is usually the worst thing to do. Purchasing a new system, digitising paper processes, moving to online collaboration and ideas platforms, ‘migrating customers to digital’ are all doing lip service to the deep entrenched challenges any organisation may face. These challenges must be confronted for what they are, not simply thrown in the fintech queue.

So what is fintech really?

Fintech is an attitude. A state of mind. A way of working. Disruption only occurs when the disrupted clearly is unprepared by the timing, and unable to react to the change. Having an open mind, with open ears and eyes on the broader landscape, will ensure you can see the change coming.

It is a way of managing, leading and building: Fintech dictates new ways of leading people and organisations through challenging or changing time. It is a way of transforming, changing and adapting through new tools, processes, methodologies and approaches that utilise people and their skills the best, as well the tech that’s around us.

Also Read: Asia’s fintech can’t wait, we need to hurry: Next Bank Founder

Fintech is the best chance we have of creating the ultimate customer experience. It’s now really putting a laser focus and judgment on the real customer value proposition. Anyone can compare, contrast, judge and critique any new service or product against an incumbent, and simply choose to use it or not. The customer will vote with their feet, far easier than they’ve ever done it before.

Let’s see the fintech opportunity for what it is – a culture change not a digital change.

Also Read: Banks vs independents: Who will win India’s mobile wallet wars?

It’s time for fintech to die as a simple application of existing and new technology concepts. It’s time for it to take hold as a way of doing business, a way of existing. And it’s not just for startups!

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at elaine[at]e27[dot]co

Image Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

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