The Future is Fintech: 4 Drivers of Change in Financial Services
The rapid development of fintech is driving the world of financial services to a point of no return along the road of digital transformation.
The rise of big data combined with consumers’ demands for more convenient, error-proof, and affordable financial services, are responsible for this shift. As a result, it has become impossible to compete against new, technology-based entrants without the support of automated, data-driven solutions.
Although the rules surrounding developing fintech are still under construction, their potential to improve operational efficiency, safeguard investments, and fortify cybersecurity, are uncapped.
To adapt, you must adopt
At this point in the game, technology adoption is mandatory for financial institutions.
Organizations that cling to costly legacy systems to manage functions like human resources and accounting, as well as customer data and account information, will be buried by high overhead and maintenance costs. They are also more vulnerable to data breaches and other cybercrimes, which have the potential to kill customer trust overnight.
Moreover, businesses that don’t embrace new technology are ill-equipped to satisfy consumer demands for convenience, ease of use, real-time assistance, and personalization. As a result, they will witness an exodus of customers who increasingly place these values ahead of loyalty.
The emergence of challenger banks as the more nimble, digitally adept competitors to traditional banks, illustrate this tension. As these new market entrants gain traction among consumers, banks are looking for ways to improve their digital offerings and enhance the overall customer experience.
The future of fintech: 4 forces of disruption
As they continue along the path of digital transformation, many financial institutions have already begun adopting cloud computing, robotic advisory, artificial intelligence, and distributed ledger technology to expand their offerings and improve efficiency.
Here’s a look into how these developing technologies will continue to transform the financial services industry.
1. Cloud software will span all business functions
Many financial institutions already use cloud-based software-as-a-service applications to manage non-core business processes, such as human resources, customer relationship management, and accounting.
By 2020, PwC predicts more financial institutions will use cloud software to manage main service offerings, including consumer payments, credit scoring, and asset management.
Digital adoption of cloud-based technology has introduced many benefits in the financial services realm.
The emergence of cloud computing fintech has led to a major drop in data storage costs, which enables financial institutions to more easily manage big data and deploy sophisticated analytics. This also eliminates significant barriers to market entry for up-and-coming fintech companies.
With better data and analytics capabilities, it’s possible for banks and other institutions to respond immediately market changes, customer behavior, and evolving technology needs. They can provide more personalized insights and a more seamless customer experience overall. Cloud-enabled technology also allows for real-time fraud identification, instant lending decisions and intelligent risk calculations.
Like all technology adoption, shifting from an on-premise model to a cloud-based model comes with risks and challenges. Financial institutions that move to the cloud must also be prepared to adopt security and compliance measures for access management, data protection, and incidence assessment and response.
2. Robotic advisory will improve investment logic
Robotic advisory is the automation of wealth management services through the use of mathematical algorithms to support investment decisions.
According to Deloitte, robo-advisors use AI-based algorithms to analyze investment logic—such as risk appetite or liquidity factors—to propose the best possible investment opportunities. As this type of fintech develops, robo-advisory will become an invaluable investment tool.
The majority of U.S., U.K., and German robo-advisors (80%) have reached the stage of development where portfolio rebalancing proposals and investment decisions are based on algorithms that satisfy predetermined investment strategies, according to Deloitte. Professional fund managers give a final review and sign off on the decision.
In the near future, robo-advisors will add even more automation. In the next stage, Deloitte predicts the technology will integrate self-learning AI investment algorithms with risk management and profiling questionnaires to plan personalized investments. They will deploy real-time monitoring and adjustments for single client portfolios to ensure adherence to the defined investment strategy.
The threat of cyber attacks are a primary challenge for robo-advisory. A breach by criminals who aim to steal data or funds could hurt banks and or robo-advisory companies. Not only would clients’ money be at stake, but also their trust.
3. Integration of AI will become the standard
Artificial intelligence is already considered integral to fintech companies, but it will become core to traditional financial services organizations as they progress through digital transformation.
The possible applications of AI in banking, wealth management, and financial advisory are vast.
Algorithms derived from AI have the potential to replace human decision making. Using the massive amounts of data already housed within these institutions, AI could improve the personalization and accuracy of financial services by providing analytics-based recommendations. Automating retail offerings via smart assistance and 24/7, real-time support represents another avenue for improving the customer experience.
The computing power intrinsic to AI includes data analytics and pattern recognition so financial service professionals can easily identify and respond to customer issues. AI can also be used to monitor cybersecurity and trigger automatic response systems.
However, the introduction of AI in financial organizations carries risk.
For example, algorithms gone awry could have negative consequences for data security and privacy. A legal framework for monitoring the use of AI in financial services has yet to be solidified, and bad investment decisions that stem from AI-based algorithms could increase corporate liability.
One of the longest standing concerns related to AI is how it might affect headcount. The potential for algorithms to displace human workers by automating their job functions is a valid concern. However, the introduction of AI in banks, wealth management, and other financial firms could also create the need for entirely new roles.
4. Distributed ledger technology like Blockchain will improve transparency and lower costs
Distributed ledger technology is defined as “a novel and fast-evolving approach to recording and sharing data across multiple data stores (ledgers), which each have the same data records and are collectively maintained and controlled by a distributed network of computer servers, which are called nodes,” according to the World Bank Group.
Blockchain, a type of DLT, uses cryptographic and algorithmic models to design and verify an append-only data structure. Each transaction “block” forms a “chain,” which serves as the ledger.
There are numerous benefits to using a DLT. Because the ledger is distributed, members of the network don’t need to rely on a third party to verify each transaction. This removes the need to trust a centralized authority and increases scalability.
DLTs increase transparency and simplify auditing because everyone in the network receives a complete copy of the ledger. Changes to the ledger must be approved by a consensus measure, which reduces the possibility of fraud and can eliminate the cost of reconciling inaccurate transactions. DLTs have the potential to reduce costs overall. One analysis found that DLT could reduce bank costs attributed to cross-border payments, securities trading, and regulatory compliance by between $15-20 billion annually by 2022.
Enhanced cybersecurity is another important benefit. DLT’s distributed nature makes them more resilient since there is no centralized database to serve as a target.
However, this type of fintech comes with its own challenges. DLTs are still in the early stages of development. Questions remain regarding governance, the standardization of hardware and software applications, and its ability to handle large volume transactions.
Interoperability and integration of DLTs into existing ledgers also pose a significant challenge, both in terms of logistics and costs. And although the distributed feature of DLTs offers a security advantage, they are not immune to technical vulnerabilities. According to statistics cited by the World Bank Group, between 15-50 bugs are identified per every 1,000 lines of code.
When it comes to adopting fintech, aim high
The rapid development of sophisticated fintech opens many opportunities for financial services organizations to improve core business operations, lower overhead costs, boost cybersecurity and provide more personalized customer service.
Although there are challenges that accompany technology adoption, they are not impassable. Organizations that ignore the potential of emerging fintech to their core business will quickly lose out to their more tech-enabled competitors.