The big fintech questions for 2020
5 trends we believe will make the most impact on financial services and the digital economy in 2020
From NFC to transparency to partnerships, these are the trends we believe will make the most impact on financial services in 2020.
Near-Field Communication (NFC) payments
It’s going to get a lot easier to wave your mobile phone around to pay for things. On January 8, NFC Forum, the global standards body and advocacy association for NFC, released four new specifications improving robustness and speed for the over 2 billion NFC-enabled devices (like smartphones). Credit card networks, equipment manufacturers, telecommunications companies, and tech heavyweights like Apple and Google participate in this forum. NFC has become a standard feature on smartphones and is now involved in the daily lives of billions of people. NFC technology’s “ability to connect and pair with other technologies like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enables a vast array of new, convenient solutions while simplifying the user experience.” The new specifications improve issues with communication speed and transactions that take place in an environment with a lot of additional “radio noise” and wireless devices.
Open banking technology employs application programming interfaces (APIs) to automatically share digital financial information among networks of qualified third-party financial service providers under secure and pre-approved conditions enabled by customers. Efficient flow of such financial data enables rapid development of new apps and services. According to independent consulting economist Jim Chappelow, “Open banking is becoming a major source of innovation that is poised to reshape the banking industry.”
Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
DeFi is a transparent code-based open financial services alternative leveraging blockchains such as Ethereum to execute smart contracts automatically when certain conditions are met. Decentralized financial services applications (dapps) deployed to the blockchain can basically run themselves and are not managed by an any institution or central authority. DARMA Capitol’s Andrew Keys states, “Decentralized Finance will continue to lead the industry in the first quarter of 2020. Over $600 million dollars are currently locked up in decentralized finance platforms. That number will cross one billion before summer.”
Partnerships between dissimilar companies delivering new financial services
Partnerships accelerate the adoption of new technologies and services. Companies from different areas of expertise bring different perspectives to the same problems, resulting in greater depth of understanding and better solutions. The combination is very powerful and allows innovators to capture a bigger picture and think outside of the box. In addition to increasing financial values, partnerships also increase market share for both companies.
Sharing data amongst different players will increase competitiveness in the financial sector. Insurance, credit, banking, and payment industry providers will be able to achieve new levels of customer knowledge and deliver vastly improved customer experience.
Simplicity, agility, and trust are the three factors that will shape financial service delivery in 2020
The need for on-demand liquidity, settlement, and transfer of funds will be forever present in the new decade. Tied-up capital sitting in banks needs to be unlocked to reduce friction in finance. There’s also still a need for better tracking in logistics. Last but never least, security and privacy requires constant vigilance.
Openness, affordability, and access. The function of finance needs to be more transparent and more people need convenient and welcoming access to affordable financial services and secure tools.
Our hopes for fintech breakthroughs in the next decade
We hope people neglected by traditional institutions will be able to move money with the convenience with which information moves today, creating an “Internet of Value.” Evolving technology can be used to expand inclusion and accessibility to millions of people deserving of convenient financial services. Airfox will devote our next 10 years to making that happen.