How is technological innovation breaking down barriers and increasing access to financial services?
The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.
Penny Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Technology Association
Financial technology is breaking down barriers to financial services and delivering value to consumers, small businesses, and the economy. Financial technology or “fintech” innovations use technology to transform traditional financial services, making them more accessible, lower-cost, and easier to use.
Fintech puts American consumers at the center of their finances and helps them manage their money responsibly. From payment apps to budgeting and investing tools and alternative credit options, fintech makes it easier for consumers to pay for their purchases and build better financial habits.
Nearly half of fintech users say their finances are better due to fintech and save more than $50 a month on interest and fees. Fintech also arms small businesses with the financial tools for success, including low-cost banking services, digital accounting services, and expanded access to capital.
The Financial Technology Association represents the innovators shaping the future of finance, whether it’s streamlining online payments, expanding access to affordable credit, giving small businesses and creators the tools for success, or empowering everyday investors to build wealth. We advocate for modernized financial policies and regulations that allow fintech innovation to drive competition in the economy and expand consumer choice.
Join FTA’s inaugural Fintech Summit in partnership with Protocol on November 16 as we discuss these themes. Spots are still available for this hybrid event, and you can RSVP here to save your seat. Join us as we discuss how to shape the future of finance.
Alex Marsh, Global Head of Policy, Klarna
In its broadest sense, Open Banking has created a secure and connected ecosystem that has led to an explosion of new and innovative solutions that benefit the customer, rapidly revolutionizing not just the banking industry but the way all companies do business. Target benefits are delivered through speed, transparency, and security, and their impact can be seen across a diverse range of use cases.
Sharing financial data across providers can enable a customer (individual or business) to have real-time access to multiple bank accounts across multiple institutions all in one platform, saving time and helping consumers get a more accurate picture of their own finances before taking on debt, providing a more reliable indication than most lending guidelines currently do.
Open Banking can also widen the net of prospective lenders by providing an immediate and accurate understanding of a customer’s financial history, allowing more lenders to better understand the specific risk profile and hence drive a more competitive loan product for the end customer.
Companies can also create carefully refined marketing profiles and therefore, finely tune their services to the specific need. Open Banking platforms like Klarna Kosma also provide a unique opportunity for businesses to overlay additional tools that add real value for users and deepen their customer relationships.
The increased transparency brought about by Open Banking brings a vast array of additional benefits, such as helping fraud detection companies better monitor customer accounts and identify problems much earlier. The list of new value-add solutions continues to grow.
Todd Denbo, Commercial Leader of Money & CEO of Intuit Financing, Inc., Intuit
The speed of business has never been faster than it is today. For small business owners, time is at a premium as they are wearing multiple hats every day. Macroeconomic challenges like inflation and supply chain issues are making successful money and cash flow management even more challenging. In fact, according to a recent Intuit QuickBooks survey, 99% of small businesses are concerned about inflation.
This presents a tremendous opportunity that innovation in fintech can solve by speeding up money movement, increasing access to capital, and making it easier to manage business operations in a central place. Fintech offers innovative products and services where outdated practices and processes offer limited options.
For example, fintech is enabling increased access to capital for business owners from diverse and varying backgrounds by leveraging alternative data to evaluate creditworthiness and risk models. This can positively impact all types of business owners, but especially those underserved by traditional financial service models.
When we look across the Intuit QuickBooks platform and the overall fintech ecosystem, we see a variety of innovations fueled by AI and data science that are helping small businesses succeed. By efficiently embedding and connecting financial services like banking, payments, and lending to help small businesses, we can reinvent how SMBs get paid and enable greater access to the vital funds they need at critical points in their journey.
Overall, we see fintech as empowering people who have been left behind by antiquated financial systems, giving them real-time insights, tips, and tools they need to turn their financial dreams into a reality.
Mahesh Kedia VP, GTM Strategy, New Market Entry and Revenue Operations, Marqeta
Innovations in payments and financial technologies have helped transform daily life for millions of people. Despite these technological advances, 22% of American adults fall in the unbanked or underbanked category (source: Federal Reserve). People who are unbanked often rely on more expensive alternative financial products (AFPs) such as payday loans, money orders, and other expensive credit facilities that typically charge higher fees and interest rates, making it more likely that people have to dip into their savings to stay afloat. Now that more of the under/unbanked population has access to web-enabled smartphones, there are many advances in fintech that can help them access banking services. A few examples include:
Mobile wallets - The unbanked may not have traditional bank accounts but can have verified mobile wallet accounts for shopping and bill payments. Their mobile wallet identity can be used to open a virtual bank account for secure and convenient online banking.
Minimal to no-fee banking services - Fintech companies typically have much lower acquisition and operating costs than traditional financial institutions. They are then able to pass on these savings in the form of no-fee or no-minimum-balance products to their customers.
Help building credit - Some fintech companies provide a credit line to the under/unbanked against a portion of their personal savings, allowing them to build a credit history over time.This enables immigrants and other populations that may be underbanked to move up the credit lifecycle to get additional forms of credit such as auto, home and education loans, etc.
By providing access to banking services such as fee-free savings and checking accounts, remittances, credit services, and mobile payments, fintech companies can help the under/unbanked population to achieve greater financial stability and wellbeing.
Katherine Carroll, Global Head of Policy and Regulation, Stripe
Entrepreneurs from every background, in every part of the world, should be empowered to start and scale global businesses.
Most businesses still face daunting challenges with very basic matters. Incorporation. Tax. Payments. These are still very manually intensive processes, and they are barriers to entrepreneurship in the form of paperwork, PDFs, faxes, and forms. Stripe is working to solve these rather mundane and boring challenges, almost always with an application programming interface that simplifies complex processes into a few clicks.
Whether it’s making it easy for businesses to accept payments from around the world, helping anyone, anywhere incorporate correctly in a matter of hours, or tailoring loans to businesses’ needs, Stripe services are making it possible for businesses of all sizes to use the tools that formerly were reserved for big companies in big cities. Of the companies that incorporated using Stripe, 92% are outside of Silicon Valley; 28% of founders identify as a minority; 43% are first-time entrepreneurs. Stripe powers nearly half a million businesses in rural America. Collectively, they outpace urban business revenue by 30%.
The internet economy is just beginning to make a real difference for businesses of all sizes in all kinds of places. We are excited about this future.
Teddy Flo, Chief Legal Officer, Zest AI
What I believe is most important — and what we have honed in on at Zest AI — is the fact that you can’t change anything for the better if equitable access to capital isn't available for everyone. The way we make decisions on credit should be fair and inclusive and done in a way that takes into account a greater picture of a person. Lenders can better serve their borrowers with more data and better math. Zest AI has successfully built a compliant, consistent, and equitable AI-automated underwriting technology that lenders can utilize to help make their credit decisions. Through Zest AI, lenders can score underbanked borrowers that traditional scoring systems would deem as “unscorable.” We’ve proven that lenders can dig into their lower credit tier borrowers and lend to them without changing their risk tolerance.
Andrew Gray, Partner, Morgan Lewis
While artificial intelligence (AI) systems have been a tool historically used by sophisticated investors to maximize their returns, newer and more advanced AI systems will be the key innovation to democratize access to financial systems in the future. Despite privacy, ethics, and bias issues that remain to be resolved with AI systems, the good news is that as larger datasets become progressively easier to interconnect, AI and related natural language processing (NLP) technology innovations are increasingly able to equalize access. The even better news is that this democratization is taking multiple forms.
AI can be used to provide risk assessments necessary to bank those under-served or denied access. AI systems can also retrieve troves of data not used in traditional credit reports, including personal cash flow, payment applications usage, on-time utility payments, and other data buried within large datasets, to create fair and more accurate risk assessments essential to obtain credit and other financial services. By expanding credit availability to historically underserved communities, AI enables them to gain credit and build wealth.
Additionally, personalized portfolio management will become available to more people with the implementation and advancement of AI. Sophisticated financial advice and routine oversight, typically reserved for traditional investors, will allow individuals, including marginalized and low-income people, to maximize the value of their financial portfolios. Moreover, when coupled with NLP technologies, even greater democratization can result as inexperienced investors can interact with AI systems in plain English, while providing an easier interface to financial markets than existing execution tools.
John Pitts, Global Head of Policy at Plaid
Open finance technology enables millions of people to use the apps and services that they rely on to manage their financial lives – from overdraft protection, to money management, investing for retirement, or building credit. More than 8 in 10 Americans are now using digital finance tools powered by open finance. This is because consumers see something they like or want – a new choice, more options, or lower costs.
What is open finance? At its core, it is about putting consumers in control of their own data and allowing them to use it to get a better deal.
When people can easily switch to another company and bring their financial history with them, that presents real competition to legacy services and forces everyone to improve, with positive results for consumers. For example, we see the impact this is having on large players being forced to drop overdraft fees or to compete to deliver products consumers want.
We see the benefits of open finance first hand at Plaid, as we support thousands of companies, from the biggest fintechs, to startups, to large and small banks. All are building products that depend on one thing - consumers' ability to securely share their data to use different services.
Open finance has supported more inclusive, competitive financial systems for consumers and small businesses in the U.S. and across the globe – and there is room to do much more. As an example, the National Consumer Law Consumer recently put out a new report that looked at consumers providing access to their bank account data so their rent payments could inform their mortgage underwriting and help build credit. This is part of the promise of open finance.
At Plaid, we believe a consumer should have a right to their own data, and agency over that data, no matter where it sits. The CFPB's recent kick off of its 1033 rulemaking was particularly encouraging as is the agency’s commitment to strong consumer data rights and emphasis on promoting competition. This will be essential to securing benefits of open finance for consumers for many years to come.