Top 10 ways fintechs can find positivity amidst COVID-19
In these uncertain times, we asked fintech leaders to comment on how they believe they see a new wave of innovation coming through the fintech industry.
As major businesses across all industries struggle to adapt to the changes caused by the spread of the pandemic COVID-19, it is easy to feel disheartened. Despite this, isolation and social distancing are causing an acceleration in contactless payments and digital solutions that are changing the way we operate our day-to-day lives.
10 | "a huge opportunity for companies who were ahead of the curve and didn’t quite have a product-market fit"
“It’s going to be challenging for fintech. It relies on funding which is likely to slow down and be on less favourable terms. Founders everywhere are re-negotiating terms and trying to hold onto their teams. There’s a huge opportunity for companies who were ahead of the curve and didn’t quite have a product-market fit while for others, it’s the chance to increase their foothold. Already, smart people are tackling problems that simply weren’t there two weeks ago. I’m massively optimistic. Ultimately, sector’s like fintech are set up for this, with remote working capability and systems to innovate and respond. We’re well placed to support our customers through this, navigating a time none of us has lived through before.” - Vivi Friedgut, founder, Blackbullion.
9 | "an opportunity for us to re-think our working practices"
"One of the very few silver linings of the Coronavirus is that for the fintech sector it creates an opportunity for us to re-think our working practices.
“I am choosing my words very carefully as I say this but we have an opportunity here to prove that people can work as productively and securely at home. This is because many people lose hours of their working day every day commuting to work or meetings and carrying sensitive information with them on devices which can be lost and stolen. However, businesses need to be very careful when establishing home-working practices in order to create secure systems which do not open up their businesses to risk." - Pete Watson, is CEO of Atlas Cloud
8 | "a real eyeopener into potential areas of vulnerability"
“For many businesses this will be a real eyeopener into potential areas of vulnerability. While this will of course cause challenges, particularly around ensuring employees mental health in times of social isolation, I also think that there will be positives. For those companies who can successfully transition to remote working not only should this build new levels of trust within their staff it should also go some way in showing businesses how they can support a more diverse workforce. For example, opening up the recruitment of disabled people in the workplace, which is still facing challenges. As we see more and more success stories of businesses working remotely, this should hopefully force attitudes to change over the long-term. What every firm is learning through the current situation is that with the right infrastructure, there should be no reason that you can’t have a fully productive member of your team who is not in your office. This has the power to be a real turning point in the journey to a truly flexible national workforce." - Adam Jones, Chief Technology Officer, Redington.
7 | "a catalyst for leveraging mobile-first banking"
"Millions of people are now working from home. Almost every business now has a bunch of new work-from-homers who need to be kitted out for this new way of working, which obviously benefits the companies who have built those collaboration tools.
This is also a catalyst for leveraging mobile-first banking. We’re not going to go into local branches anymore, so the high street banking footprint will radically shift towards apps and other remote tools.
B2B SaaS will remain resilient as the global economy shifts because it relies on a recurring revenue model – in other words, B2B SaaS companies don’t rely on one-off sales. Growth may slow down, but for mission-critical platforms—which is what we look for and invest in—churn is unlikely to be destabilising.
6 | "Industry 4.0 and the global lifestyle will be more important than ever"
"The UK, spearheaded by its leading tech hub, London - which according to the recent Tech Nation report retains its crown as the top European tech hub for VC investment - provides a powerful backdrop for fintech development and innovation. With its flexible working environments and commitment to providing an increasing number of co-working spaces, London is quite the magnet for top talent.
Fintech companies are traditionally - and necessarily - fast adapters: from adopting paperless and cashless approaches to implementing new software and cloud-based systems, as well as remote working capabilities, fintech companies are often built better to withstand impacts that we are seeing sweep across other industries at the moment. That’s not to say they are not unshakeable.
There is uncertainty everywhere at the moment, and some companies will inevitably be going through a phase of stagnation. But if we dare to look, we will see there is a silver lining too - an opportunity to adapt and innovate. From a long term, wider perspective, the UK tech sector will keep growing - once the Covid-19 storm is gone, however long that takes, trends like Industry 4.0 and the global lifestyle transmission will be more important than ever.
The current situation will likely postpone the release of new-to-market products - mainly for businesses which need the ‘offline’ space to test new offerings and have physical products. At the same time, there’s potential to thrive for online services, VR technologies, remote working platforms, sustainability-related businesses and also fintech companies which help customers embrace new, future-proofed ways of money-saving and management.
This is the time to re-think your strategy. Times like these are hard for many, but can also bring positive innovation. ‘Adapt or lose’ applies now more than ever - whether it comes to internal operations or product offerings. Be agile, use technologies to your advantage, listen to your customers and remain competitive." - Frank Zhou, CEO & Founder of Zeux
5 | "an opportunity to embrace the innovation that fintech thrives at"
“The current Coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity to embrace precisely the kind of innovation that the fintech community thrives at. At a time when “remote working” is becoming part of our daily lives, the use of digital technology to pursue our business activities becomes essential and takes on its full meaning. However, if Fintech players want to reap long-term rewards once the crisis has passed, they have to ensure that innovation is as inclusionary as possible. In the past, people have criticised fintechs for excluding people who aren’t familiar with or don’t have access to, the technologies it relies on. Any innovations addressing the crisis should be above that kind of reproach.”
“For investors, some Fintech products offer alternative investment vehicles that aren’t as subject to volatility as traditional market-based ones. Token-based products, for example, open up comparatively stable property investments, while still providing easier liquidity than that space would otherwise provide.” - Sébastien Flak, Director, Fintech Solutions, at Geneva Management Group (GMG)
4 | "CV-19 is probably good for crypto markets"
"We feel that CV-19 is probably good for crypto markets in the medium term. As a business, our opinion is that, for Crypto, the global meltdown of traditional markets shows real promise.
We recently released an e-book on the Crypto Boom which our target demographic has devoured with enthusiasm, and we have provided free weekly online webinars on the dynamics of the market, which have been some of our best-attended events. In fact, March has been a record month for both levels of new users of the platform, and their spend on the platform.
The fundamentals remain strong, classic assets are weak, and there is huge price potential after the initial shock of CV19 levels out. Moreover, there is a real sense that the traditional banking infrastructure is not fit for purpose.
Increasingly there is more distrust at a systemic level, with more room, emotionally, for the retail public to embrace new fintech trends." - Katharine Wooller, managing director, UK & Eire, Dacxi
3 | "accepting, without question, the validity of remote working."
“For me, the outlook for fintech during Coronavirus is extremely strong. Why do I say that? I have been bowled over by the positivity shown by communities coming together and Fintech is no exception.
It has provided a great opportunity to exercise every tech business’ disaster recovery plan. Frankly, the industry should be a text-book example of the seamless switching of every employee to working from home during enforced social isolation which should permeate into other industries accepting, without question, the validity of remote working.
I’ve found that exclusively remote working is seriously efficient. Everyone is accessible, as they too are avoiding the dreaded ‘meetings for the sake of meetings!’ I’ve had more time to review and strategize, and I have completed a month’s worth of tasks in 10 days, without travel or other distractions.
I’ve never felt more connected to the global team, with online meetings, with camera feed, proving invaluable: I now know what my colleagues’ living room curtains, spouses and cats look like. Even better, we have not had to worry about sufficient toilet paper supplies in the office!" - Katharine Wooller, managing director, UK & Eire, Dacxi
2 | "Open banking will see new customers coming on board"
“We will trust technology more after this, and see a willingness to embrace and accelerate its use in products and services that we create, sell or use. Open banking will see new customers coming on board that would have previously still had a preference for physically located banks with cash and safes. Wealth investment and management opportunities will grow as a result of the hammering that most of our pensions and investments will have taken.
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain methods are likely to become more widely accepted and trusted. Large insurance companies that have previously been very reliant on call centre based environments for claims will look to find new ways of working to mitigate against this and future risks. Everywhere that this event has uncovered weaknesses or strengths in our ways of working and systems will present change. Wherever there is change there is an opportunity, which when fuelled and supported by the resulting embrace of technology will certainly have those opportunities knocking at the door of the FinTech sector.
1 | 10. “We will see a willingness to embrace technology”
“COVID-19 has the potential to impact permanently how we as a society operate, function and work. Technology has shown its value across the board for all demographics, adding resilience to our economy, enabling alternative working, providing a means to communicate with loved ones. Everyone from large corporates to individual citizens will be better embracing the use of technology as an outcome of this event we are currently facing, that is something that we can be sure of. Technology is proving itself to be a very useful and valuable friend in a time of need.” - Gavin Powell, General Secretary of FinTech Wales