Recently, our colleague Martin Schuit went to the city of Toronto, Canada, on a Study Tour for his Executive MBA program at Rotterdam School of Management. During the week, several topics regarding FinTech and A.I. were discussed within multiple lectures, cases, company visits and impressive guest lectures from specialists in the field.
Ever since the crisis in 2007, trust in the financial sector and the banking industry greatly deteriorated. Together with developments in technology and general acceptance of this technology, the crisis has created the opportunity for FinTech startups to disrupt the financial industry. Multiple technologies and applications have made small or big changes in the way we do for example banking, contracts, accounting, payment or borrowing and lending.
One of the most well-known technologies with regards to FinTech is, perhaps, the blockchain. Since the introduction of the Bitcoin, blockchain technology is something that the general public has at least basic knowledge of. Where the basic applications of blockchain technology were 'cool' but maybe not as useful to the general public or companies, applications become more and more relevant and blockchain technology actually makes all the difference. These applications are widely available nowadays, as a service, a white label product or a third party application.
Another innovation in the financial industry is crowd funding and or lending. Whereas borrowing or lending used to be involving the big banks, nowadays this is based on technology to assure safe transactions between individuals, companies and or investors. Platforms like Kickstarter.com are well known, however, Peer to peer lending (P2P Lending) platforms are perhaps less well-known to the general public. In Canada for example, FrontFundr is one of the platforms that enables P2P Lending, where individuals can provide loans to companies that require funds for a next step in their business development.
A third part of the financial industry that is heavily impacted by technology is investment and wealth management. Where in the past you would need a specialist in investing in stocks, bonds or ETFs, current technology makes this available by simply tapping the screen of your mobile phone. Artificial intelligence or even machine learning makes the algorithms that help you investing in the right stocks or bonds better every day, so that you only have to choose the amount of risk you want to take, the technology does the rest. Because this technology is widely available, banking apps start incorporating more and more of these features in their standard applications, opening up new possibilities for wealth management for the general public.
A.I. and machine learning technology is becoming easily available for corporates and even individuals with platforms like IBM's Watson or Microsoft's Azure, letting everyone reap the benefits of this new technology. If you think that banking, lending, saving, investing, and paying all integrated in something like an app based on modern day technologies is something you would see in a science fiction movie, think again. This is happening today. To get an idea of how this would work, look at what was actually already happening in China 3 years ago: