FinTech Trends 2021: Top 6 technologies to watch out for
According to Big Four consulting firm KPMG, FinTech companies around the world bagged more than $135.7 billion in investment in the year 2019 . In the same year, the global FinTech industry nearly reached $111,240.5 million and by 2023, the industry is expected to touch $158,014.3 million while growing at a CAGR of 9.2% . The financial technology industry is clearly on a boom. Despite the pandemic taking over the world, this sector has continued to show growth and set the tone for FinTech trends 2021. Global COVID-19 FinTech Market Rapid Assessment Study by The World Economic Forum gathered empirical data from 1,385 FinTech firms operating under 169 jurisdictions. The goal of the study was to see how these companies grew on the onset of the pandemic. The study found that the FinTech firms, on average, saw a growth of 13% in 2020 during the pandemic. In 2019, the growth of the same companies was at 11% on average .
The landscape of the FinTech industry is changing at the speed of light, especially since the pandemic. The acceptance and adaptation of FinTech solutions has increased rapidly during these testing times. A study conducted by Plaid that surveyed 2,008 US adults found that 73% of the Americans view FinTechs as a part of the new normal. Additionally, 67% of those Americans plan to continue using these solutions even after the pandemic ends.
Advancements and transformations in the FinTech industry impacts everything related to money, banking and payments. The FinTech revolution in the world is gaining enormous traction with each passing day. 2021 will be all about this industry taking further steps towards developments in the banking and payments sector. In this blog, we will talk about 6 trends in FinTech that you should watch for in the year 2021. But first, let us reflect on what this technology is all about.
What is FinTech?
First things first, FinTech, which is short for Financial Technology, is not a name of a brand or a particular software. It is a collective terminology used for technology trends in the financial sector. Fintech is the integration of technology with finance to produce creative and efficient solutions for consumers or businesses.
FinTech solutions make banking smarter and quicker. Financial technology is supported by a range of cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, biometrics and many more. These technologies can be implemented in a FinTech solution individually or in combination.
Adoption of FinTech technologies in the form of apps, websites or solutions has happened at a massive rate in these testing times and from this point on, it will only increase. The industry is continuously coming up with groundbreaking and useful technology for making finance convenient, quick and secure. While there are many future trends in FinTech that are expected to boom in the upcoming years, here are 6 trends that we think will rule in 2021.
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6 Future trends in fintech 2021 to watch out for
1. Digital-only Banking
Digital-only banks are those banks that offer several banking services only virtually via apps or websites or both. The services offered by Digital-only banks include international remittance, contactless MasterCard with transaction fee, P2P transfers and the ability to buy cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Essentially, these banks minimize the need of individuals to go to banks for carrying out transactions or other banking purposes. Digital-only banks give its customers the advantage of convenience and flexibility. Moreover, these banks also offer more innovative services at a much lower rate as compared to the traditional banking players.
Digital-only banks have gained popularity in a very short period of time and are expected to experience a surge in 2021. A research conducted by Finder surveying 2,512 Indian adults found about 22% of the responders saying they already have a digital-only bank account. 12% of responders said they plan on opening a digital-only bank account in the near future . Some examples of digital-only banks are Chime (United States), Digibank (India), Finn (United States), Fidor (Germany), Revolut (United Kingdom) and Mashreq Neo (United Arab Emirates).
Blockchain technology basically is used for storing transaction information of users to its database. It is done in a way that transactions can be tracked by any user for maximum transparency. The ‘miners’ gather the transaction information of users and compile them in ‘blocks’ using large amounts of costly energy.
Blockchain is a FinTech 2021 trend that has completely transformed the mode of operations of the financial technology industry. This disruptive technology makes transactions happen in a safe and secure way. More banking and finance institutions are accepting this technology and integrating it in their platforms. According to research conducted by Markets and Markets, the global FinTech blockchain market is expected to touch USD 6,228.2 million by the year 2023 at a CAGR of 75.9% .
The best thing about blockchain is that it introduced a new philosophy of decentralizing finance that focuses on minimizing a centralized procedure. Meaning that once a data transaction is recorded in the system, it becomes very difficult to change or undo it, hence it remains protected. The technology makes sure that the data stored is end-to-end secured and is at minimum risk. This is why blockchain is also used to secure cross-border payments.
Till date, blockchain technology has inspired the development and advancement of several P2P (Peer-to-Peer) financial platforms. These platforms allow monetary interactions between users to take place in a decentralized manner. Banking and financial institutions are using this technology in the hopes of cutting down expenses and enhancing their internal procedures.
Blockchain is the technology because of which cryptocurrency exists. A cryptocurrency is a virtual medium of money exchange, just like the US dollar or Indian Rupee. It is completely digital and uses encryption methods to control the creation of units of money and verification at the time of fund transfers. The most common example of a cryptocurrency is Bitcoin.
3. Open Banking
Open Banking is a Fintech 2021 trend that enables the secure electronic sharing of financial information. In the simplest terms, Open Banking helps you save money, pay painlessly and borrow money easily through third-party providers (TPPs). Application Programming Interfaces or APIs allow TPPs to access users’ financial information in an efficient way.
It is a revolutionary technology that brings FinTechs and banks together by facilitating data networking across banking and finance institutions. Open Banking is related to the Second Payment Services Directive or PSD2 and forces banks to reveal data in a secure, standardized form which makes the information sharing easier amongst authorized online organizations.
A report published by Allied Market Research found that in 2018, the global open banking market generated $7.29 billion and is expected to reach $43.15 billion by the year 2026 . The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), the body that’s been established to deliver open banking in the United Kingdom announced that more than 2 million customers are now using products enabled by open banking . An upward graph was seen in the usage of this technology despite the effects of the pandemic.
Short for Regulatory Technology, RegTech can be defined as the management of the regulatory processes in the finance sector through technology. RegTech covers a range of financial solutions designed around reporting, compliance and monitoring. The solutions equip organizations with the power of intelligent software that can simplify the process of compliance with the existing laws, rules and regulations.
With the increase of FinTech and digital products has increased money laundering opportunities and other fraudulent activities like cyber hacks and data breaches. Regulatory Technology, with the help of Machine Learning and Big Data, offers crucial data on money laundering and other activities, thus reducing the company’s compliance risk.
5. Financial Inclusion
According to the World Bank, 69% of adults in the world (which is about 3.8 billion people) now have an account with a bank or a mobile money provider. However, 1.7 billion adults still remain unbanked despite two thirds of them owning a mobile phone that could allow them to access financial solutions and services .
Most of these people are from developing nations where the user penetration for mobile phones is high. This makes for a perfect market for FinTech services and branchless banking. Once of the big FinTech trends 2021 will be acceleration in financial inclusion as FinTech apps will offer banking facilities to the weaker, unbanked and illiterate sections of the society.
6. Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation is a process automation technology that uses ‘digital workers’ or software robots to automate certain tasks that are usually performed by humans. This isn’t really a type of financial technology but a FinTech trend for 2021 that will enhance and optimize certain finance-related processes.
This isn’t really a future trend in FinTech because this technology is already being used to cut costs and enhance the overall efficiency of finance organizations. The financial service industry has already adopted RPA digital workers for the automation of several back-end processes like customer onboarding, security checks, trial balancing, account maintenance, account closing, credit cards, mortgage processing, etc. RPA helps accomplishment of these monotonous tasks quickly and more efficiently allowing the personnel in financial institutions to focus on other key areas like customer service.
The financial services technology industry is growing at a rapid pace and we can clearly see the future trends in FinTech making our lives easier. The FinTech trends 2021 we’ve talked about above have evolved immensely and provide consumers and banking organizations with enhanced availability of faster transaction processing, financial data, transparency, secure identification and better customer experience. The FinTech revolution is becoming more fierce by each passing day. If you are working in the same industry and don’t want to be left behind, it will be imperative for you to get accustomed to these FinTech trends.
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Image 2: “Compliance” by Nick Youngson, is licensed under Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0
 KPMG (2019) “Pulse of Fintech H2’19 – Global trends” [Online] Available from: https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/campaigns/2020/02/pulse-of-fintech-h2-19-global-trends.html [Accessed December 2020]
 The Business Research Company (2020) “Fintech Global Market Opportunities and Strategies” [Online] Available from: https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/fintech-market#:~:text=The%20global%20Fintech%20market%20reached,nearly%20%24158%2C014.3%20million%20by%202023 [Accessed December 2020]
 World Economic Forum (2020) “Global COVID-19 FinTech Market Rapid Assessment Study” [Online] Available from: https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-covid-19-fintech-market-rapid-assessment-study [Accessed December 2020]
 Plaid (2020) “2020 Fintech Report – The Fintech Effect – Spotlight on COVID-19” [Online] Available from: https://plaid.com/documents/the-fintech-effect-spotlight-on-covid.pdf [Accessed December 2020]
 Finder (2020) “The rise of digital banks” [Online] Available from: https://www.finder.com/in/digital-banking-statistics#:~:text=While%20digital-only%20banking%20is,Survey%20of%202%2C512%20Indian%20adults [Accessed December 2020]
 MarketsAndMarkets (2019) “FinTech Blockchain Market by Provider, Application (Payments, Clearing, and Settlement, Exchanges and Remittance, Smart Contract, Identity Management, and Compliance Management/KYC), Organization Size, Vertical, and Region – Global Forecast to 2023” [Online] Available from: https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/fintech-blockchain-market-38566589.html#:~:text=The%20FinTech%20blockchain%20market%20is,75.9%25%20during%20the%20forecast%20period.&text=Among%20these%20types%2C%20the%20application,segment%20in%20the%20overall%20market [Accessed December 2020]
 Allied Market Research (2020) “Open Banking Market Size to Reach $43.15 Billion by 2026, at 24.4% CAGR” [Online] Available from: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/04/13/2015104/0/en/Open-Banking-Market-Size-to-Reach-43-15-Billion-by-2026-at-24-4-CAGR.html [Accessed December 2020]
 Open Banking (2020) “Real demand for open banking as user numbers grow to more than two million” [Online] Available from: https://www.openbanking.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/real-demand-for-open-banking-as-user-numbers-grow-to-more-than-two-million/?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Post%20Blast%20bii-fintech:%20UK%20open%20banking%20surpasses%202M%20users%20%7C%20Ant%20Group%20launches%20blockchain%20trade%20finance%20platform%20%7C%20Mexican%20alt%20lender%20raises%20%2468.5M%20credit%20line&utm_term=BII%20List%20Fintech%20ALL [Accessed December 2020]
 The World Bank (2018) “Financial Inclusion on the Rise, But Gaps Remain, Global Findex Database Shows” [Online] Available from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/04/19/financial-inclusion-on-the-rise-but-gaps-remain-global-findex-database-shows [Accessed December 2020]