Whether you call it the “FinTech Capital of the World” or “transaction alley,” with more than two-thirds of the world’s financial transactions passing through Atlanta, there’s no denying that the city is a major fintech hub.
Earlier this month, several members of the Alloy team had the pleasure of attending FinTech South, the southeast’s largest event dedicated to financial innovation.
Here are four key takeaways from the informative and inspirational sessions presented by industry leaders from around the world:
1. FinTech Regulators & Innovators Have to Work Together To Protect Consumers & Creativity
In a session on gaming in the fintech space, panelists discussed the rapid pace of innovation and how that affects industry regulation. New service offerings do not always fit well within existing regulatory frameworks, and to protect consumers and businesses without stifling innovation, there needs to be a collaborative environment that allows for experimentation of new technology and financial services. Safe harbor laws like what we saw in 2020 with Colorado establishing a safe harbor framework for fintech lending programs, is a prime example of how regulators and innovators are working together to oversee risk while allowing for flexible innovation.
2. Cybersecurity is More Important Than Ever
Financial service providers were the most targeted industry by cyber criminals from 2018 - 2021, and the vast majority of fintech startups are vulnerable to major cyberattacks. Not only are there large-scale attacks putting the personally identifiable information (PII) data of thousands of users at risk, but there are additional concerns about individual transactions as more organizations are shifting to a hybrid work model and high-dollar deals are happening on beaches, airports and kitchen tables around the world. In addition to protecting customer data, FinTechs must ensure transaction integrity via user authentication. We’re all familiar with the fingerprint and facial recognition versions of biometric authentication, but we can expect to see more advanced forms in the near future, including vein mapping, heartbeat analysis, and even behavioral biometrics like the way you type, swipe, or hold your phone. Although FinTechs are not held to the same strict cybersecurity standards as traditional banks, they must continuously evolve their cybersecurity strategies in order to get ahead of new threats, ensuring protection for themselves and their customers from data breaches and fraud.
3. Now is the Time to Focus on Financial Inclusion
While cash is still king in 2022, Covid pushed more businesses to accept touchless payments, and Pew Research shows that in a typical week, 29% of Americans make absolutely zero purchases using cash. Many delivery services no longer accept cash, and you may have noticed your favorite restaurant has also made the switch to improve employee safety by eliminating cash payments. As we utilize payment transfer services like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, and Apple Pay, to make more and more everyday purchases, the fintech industry has to take some responsibility for making sure that segments of the population aren’t getting left behind. So, how can we ensure the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services? It begins with a reflection within. No, It’s not as simple as throwing more money at a problem. Sometimes you have to meet people where they are to find a way to be effective. This can mean providing financial and/or technology education or holding focus groups and conducting customer exploration to understand users’ needs.
4. Banks + Fintechs = Frenemies
On the outside, fintechs’ service offerings may seem to challenge established financial institutions, but it isn’t a matter of “either, or.” The relationship is more nuanced than that, and some banks have even started working with fintech startups with a goal of developing better solutions for consumers. Big banks often move much slower when it comes to digital innovation, because of government regulations. Rather than utilizing the cloud, most major banks run their own data centers, which makes it difficult for them to quickly increase their processing capabilities when they need it. This leaves a gap in the market for modern financial services and creates opportunities for collaboration with FinTechs – like Bank of America partnering with Zelle to provide their customers the capability to instantly transfer funds to another bank account. By working together, banks and FinTechs are leading the future of financial services.
A strong PR partner, that is also tech-savvy, can help you create messaging and increase visibility around the strides you are making in the areas of regulation, innovation, security, and inclusion. To see how you can create awareness for your cutting-edge fintech solution in the banking and payments world, read how Alloy helped client Paysend debut its global digital payment solution to the U.S. market.