What lies ahead for financial technology in 2017?

2016 saw financial services firms embrace new technologies and the overall trend for digitisation in the sector sees no sign of abating as we enter 2017. Banks have had to adapt as agile digital challengers enter the space and new technologies such as biometrics and robo-advice gather momentum. The rise of interest in blockchain has been meteoric and more institutions are turning to the distributed ledger technology to streamline processes and boost efficiency. Over the past 12 months we have also seen an increase in cyber attacks and the need for businesses to respond with enhanced security and data protection measures.

So what can we expect in the financial technology sector over the coming year? A range of industry experts have outlined to FStech their predictions for the next 12 months…

Sophie Guibaud, VP of European expansion, Fidor Bank:
“While FinTech innovation in the last number of years has been primarily focused on the retail banking sector, this will change markedly in 2017 as corporate banking comes to the fore. One segment on this market which will be affected will be smaller to medium-sized firms. Some challenges SMEs currently experience with incumbent banks are lengthy and complex procedures to open bank accounts preventing them to run their operations smoothly or the fact that the accounts they offer are fitted to large corporation needs and not SME’s. This is where FinTech is ideally placed in the coming year to take on established financial institutions and offer real value to SMEs to enable their businesses to thrive in a challenging environment.”

Gideon Hyde, co-founder, Market Gravity:
“Technology will continue to be one of the biggest disrupting forces in the banking and finance sector in 2017, with innovations such as blockchain, chat bots, robo-advice and virtual reality finally breaking through. In 2016, we saw the time it takes to go from breakthrough technology to mass market application reducing as technology disruptors reshaped big business practice, and this breakneck pace doesn’t show signs of abating as we enter a new year.”

Anders la Cour, chief executive officer, Saxo Payments:
“Having access to cross-border banking is a critical factor for businesses wishing to trade overseas, yet established payments businesses and up-and-coming new entrants are struggling to find a bank that allows them to open the necessary bank accounts. Impacted by regulations, and increased risk and competition, major banks have become reluctant to offer non-domestic business banking services and this is hindering the international trading potential of a plethora of enterprises. Thankfully, there are now alternative solutions available to businesses of any size, which typically offer faster cross-border payments, at a much lower cost than banks. And I believe 2017 will be the year where we see these entities come into their own.”

Jens Bader, chief commercial officer, Secure Trading:
“2017 is not the year of disruption, the disruption has already come; 2017 is the tipping point. The bank, of course, will always have a role in the payment journey, because people will always hold their money there. But from now on that will be the extent of its function. Ultimately, the banks will become a B2B service provider to FinTech companies, the new face of payments.”

Matthew Key, head of customer engagement, BT:
“The use of biometrics has matured over the course of last year and biometrics will continue playing a major role in authentication in the year ahead. We are likely to see an increased use of a blended approach to using biometrics. For example, a bank client wishing to make smaller transactions of up to £500 might be identified using a fingerprint. That, however, might be insufficient for larger transactions and, as such, banks would be able to employ a method combining a fingerprint and an iris scan.”

Perry Krug, principal architect, Couchbase:
“Finance is fast becoming digital-first, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s digital-only. Many future generations will never step foot inside a physical bank branch and with contactless payments, Bitcoin and blockchain, money itself is becoming increasingly digital, to the point of abstraction. 2017 will see the logical progression of this trend, whereby the FinTech startups utilising emerging technologies such as blockchain become more mainstream. Left in their wake will be the big banks that can’t cater to the digital economy.”

Chris Davies, president (Europe), Global Payments:
“2017 will mark another exciting year for the payments industry, as growing numbers of customers become accustomed to paying with their contactless card or their mobile phone. Moreover, as customers increasingly use their smartphones or tablets to pay online for their purchases, we expect technology providers to continue to develop ever more exciting wallet propositions. We also expect the importance of wallets and app payments to rise, as smartphone providers such as Samsung and Apple work to integrate new reward and loyalty programmes into their existing payment applications.”

Christopher Kong, senior payment consultant, Icon Solutions:
“More payments traffic, particularly with APIs, will mean a greater threat of fraud and possible data breaches so firms providing resilience and recovery services will be in more demand. Card schemes will be trying to get alignment on 3D Secure 2.0 and to remain relevant in the online payments security space, after card not present/3D Secure is phased out. The USA will be torn between investing in the 3D Secure roll out as part of the EMV upgrade, or waiting for the new European online payments security models to be developed. Big e-merchants like Amazon will likely be impacted by any new security models.”

Michael Kent, CEO and founder, Azimo:
“For the first time in years, political risk and uncertainty will be one of the biggest concerns for every business and many individuals in 2017 – it’s clear that we’re sailing into uncharted territory. While America’s new president seems to have the financial markets excited, there’s also an underlying fear that we’re witnessing an era of free trade and globalisation being replaced by isolationism. Trump’s first 100 days in charge, and the results of the 2017 German and French elections, will tell us more. Closer to home, the main worry is that a badly-handled Brexit will have a hugely negative impact on the UK technology and FinTech sectors, with talent and capital relocating elsewhere and London tumbling down the list of attractive places to start a business.”

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