There is no doubt that emerging technologies are disrupting industries all over the world, but one area that has experienced massive technological growth and change in recent years is the financial services industry. There is no clearer indication of this than the recent erupting business area known as financial technology, otherwise known as “fintech”. Fintech consists of any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin. It has transformed the way money is managed and affects almost every financial activity, from banking to payments to wealth management. Startups are re-imagining financial services processes, while financial services firms are following suit with new products of their own.
Last year, the fintech industry grew with investments over $7.6 billion, up from $4.7 billion the prior year and $1.5 billion in 2013. The rapid adoption of technology advancements in the financical services industry is beneficial in many ways, however it also reminds us that we must keep these tools secure and think about security differently, starting with threat prevention from both outside and inside the network. With fintech and the confidential nature of the financial services industry, there are many gray areas when it comes to where one can compete and where to partner. However, the following trends and expected areas of growth are crucial for organizations looking to remain competitive in a hypercompetitive industry.
We’ve talked about blockchain before and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Just this month, the World Economic Forum released a new report detailing how blockchain will change the financial services industry and infrastructure going forward. Within the last few years, more than $1 billion has been invested into the blockchain technology and as WEF predicts, 80 percent of banks will launch new distributed ledger projects by 2017. Currently, over 90 central banks are discussing the integration of the technology. According to the WEF report, “virtual currencies and their underlying technologies can provide faster and cheaper financial services and can become a powerful tool for deepening financial inclusion in the developing world.”
Shift in Traditional Banking
With the rise of digital banking, experts believe that the traditional brick-and-mortar retail banks will soon become obsolete. One thing is certain, financial services firms realize the benefits of going digital as a means to ease the overall customer experience, create efficiencies, and keep up with the future of banking and investing. As an example, JP Morgan Chase and OnDeck recently came together to offer small business loans. “Banks want to better serve their customers, as well as reach new customers they otherwise couldn’t with existing products and footprint. Online lenders benefit from banks bringing customers and capital to their platforms,”says Jay Reinemann, managing director of BBVA Ventures. Few, if any, banks currently exist that do not offer a digital presence and many are shutting down their retail doors for an online business model.
Between 2014 and 2015, the time we spend on mobile devices went up by an astounding 117 percent, and all signs point to an increase in mobile technologies in the coming years. In order to remain competitive in this industry, financial services firms must offer the same services that customers get in a traditional brick and mortar bank on their mobile devices. Benjamin Ensor, an analyst at the technology research company Forrester Research Inc., said that incorporating payment capabilities could drive the adoption of mobile banking – if people can be made comfortable with the idea of using phones as a payment system.
While these trends are creating massive disruption within financial services, they are also creating opportunites. Juniper Networks is well positioned to address these concerns with appropriate open, standards-based scalable and secure solutions. We are uniquely positioned to serve the fintech industry by offering an application-centric view of your network, so you can be secure while continuing to improve the performance of critical applications as your business needs continue to change and grow.