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One of the fastest growing global business sectors in recent years is the financial technology or “FinTech” sector. Innovation by this field has been extremely challenging to traditional financial services giants while at the same time offering exceptional opportunities for new business models and startups that bring much-needed change. Ventura capital has been pouring into FinTech at a tremendous rate.
Looked at in a broad manner, FinTech is now the driving force in financial services, accounts and transactions of all types, including bank accounts, lending, investment accounts/trading, insurance, mortgages, credit cards, and wealth management. Also, a fast growing, vital part of FinTech today comprises online payments and mobile payments, enabling consumers to easily pay for online purchases and to send each other money for business or personal purposes.
Another branch of FinTech is cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. An estimate by CoinCapMarket was that global cryptocurrencies (sometimes called “crypto”) had soared to nearly $3 trillion in market value in November 2021. However, this number plummeted to $0.9 trillion by mid-June 2022 during a market rout. That was not the first time that cryptocurrencies had shown extreme instability.
Only a few decades ago, virtually all financial services relationships were managed in person—at banks’ branch offices, insurance agents’ desks and investment company offices. During the 1970s and 1980s, a slowly expanding number of financial products could be reasonably well managed by telephone. During this period, ATMs started to displace bank tellers in large numbers.
The internet era launched very rapid adoption of online banking, investments and insurance. Discount stock brokerages gained so much market share that they forced traditional brokerages to provide more customer-friendly services and lower fees—so much so that today, many stock trades can be executed on a no-commission basis. Companies like Charles Schwab soared old-line firms like Merrill Lynch were forced to adapt.
Insurance became much more competitive and easier to obtain as the internet grew to mass market scale. Consumers could easily compare rates, apply for insurance and make claims online. This was extremely disruptive to the traditional insurance industry, and value-priced companies like Geico boomed.
The convenience and cost-effectiveness brought about by the early foundation of financial technologies (such as the push-button telephone, the ATM and the internet) were extremely important. However, these early applications pale in comparison to the total FinTech revolution that was launched soon after the January 2007 introduction of the iPhone and the smartphone era, followed by the mid-2000s emergence of ubiquitous, remote computer power in the cloud.
Smartphone apps are relatively easy to create and scale thanks to the flexibility of cloud computing platforms such as Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS. At the same time, a reasonable estimate would be that well over 6 billion consumers worldwide have access to smartphones. More than 1.5 billion new smartphones are sold yearly. Portability, reasonably good security and cost-effectiveness make smartphones a nearly-ideal platform for financial account management, and the cloud has vastly boosted this trend.
Not surprisingly, emerging/developing nations where the economy is expanding rapidly have been among locales to most readily adopt FinTech innovations. If a shortage of bank branches existed in India, for example, mobile banking solved the problem. If a modern insurance industry was not fully developed in Vietnam or Thailand, online insurance expanded the market. If consumers had few credit cards or checking accounts anywhere in the world, then payment platforms like Paypal solved a major need. The market in Asia is a perfect example. A late-2019 study by Bain/Google/Temasek found that 50% of Southeast Asians (home to 600 million people) are underbanked, 90%+ are under-insured and about 80% lack investment accounts. FinTech is rapidly solving those problems.
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tt's entertaining writing style combined with his excellent documentation challenges readers to think carefully about the evolutionary changes that he suggests will be the building blocks of the coming socioeconomic rena...
Meanwhile, methods and technologies that enable
both businesses and consumers to make touchless payments and online payments
boomed at incredible rates during the Coronavirus pandemic—boosting payment
platforms like PayPal, Venmo and Zelle.
Consumers quickly replaced much of their physical, in-store shopping
with online shopping. Many shopping
platforms with integrated payment tools, such as Shopify, saw terrific growth
The Coronavirus initiated trends in banking and
payments that will have lasting effects.
This is true on a global basis. A
good way to think of the total effect is that the Coronavirus accelerated what
would have been the next 10 years' worth of growth in digital behavior into a
few months' time.
of Banking: Banking has become a highly globalized
industry. This was fueled by four
factors: 1) the availability of global
electronic networks for distribution of funds and real-time management of
information; 2) the easing of local restrictions on ownership of banks by
foreign entities; 3) the opportunity to serve the needs of multinational
corporations; and 4) the increasing attractiveness, from a banker's point of
view, of rising household wealth in emerging economies. New opportunities were sought out globally by
major banks. However, regulations in
many emerging economies restrict the level to which foreign firms can own local
“Shadow Banking” System: Non-bank companies
that offer financial services are a competitive threat to traditional
banks. Retailers, automobile manufacturers,
stock brokers, insurance companies and other business sectors are offering a
growing array of bank-like services, from
In America alone, the insurance business
employed about 2.85 million people as of July 2021. Gross life and accident & health
insurance premiums in the U.S. totaled $1034.2 billion during 2020 (up from $968.3
billion in 2019; this is the latest year available), per the National
Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). A large number of companies underwrite
insurance in America, but the industry is dominated by a handful of major
Premiums on a per capita basis remain very low in much of the world,
pointing to excellent long-term opportunity for expansion of sales of insurance
products of all types, including annuities.
It would be hard to overstate the importance of developing nations, such
as India, Brazil and Indonesia, to the future growth of the insurance
industry. Much of the world is still
clearly a fertile field for expansion of insurance companies that are willing
and able to invest time and money in emerging markets. The insurance markets in these areas will be
boosted by a combination of rising household incomes; increasing education and
financial sophistication among consumers; extending life spans; and a tradition
of families relying on personal savings and initiative rather than government
social programs to provide for retirement funds and health care.
Massive amounts of insurance company earnings come from the sale of
annuities and other retirement and investment products, along with profits (or losses)
that insurance underwriters earn on the investment of their own assets and
reserves. Read More...
Investment banks also deal in private equity
investments and asset management, and they earn immense fees by brokering mergers
Then there are the big firms that provide stock
brokerage services. Some of them, like
Merrill Lynch, are also investment banks.
Others, like Charles Schwab, are primarily stock brokers that deal with
millions of individual customers.
However, the lines have blurred between sectors
in recent years. It is common for one
firm to operate in multiple segments of the investment industry at once,
including some or all of such sectors as commercial banking, investment
banking, asset management, insurance, mortgages, financial advisory, venture
capital, mergers and acquisitions and more.
The Global Investment Industry: This is a massive,
global industry, and in light of the fact that it provides the services that
enable companies to have access to capital, it is one of the most important
industries of all. The World Federation
of Exchanges estimated the total value (market capitalization) of stocks on all
of the world's significant exchanges at $110.4 trillion as of 2020, with shares
available in over 50,000 companies.
After an extremely turbulent environment during
the recent recession (late 2007 through mid-2009), the global investment
industry has been greatly altered. Many
of the best-known brands in the industry failed or were taken over. Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail
completely. Bear Stearns was taken over
by JPMorgan Chase at a nominal price.
By the end of the painful 2008-09