As another year of hyper-digitisation draws to a close against the backdrop of COVID-19, the fintech sphere is set to unlock further opportunities for consumers and businesses in 2022.
Data will lie at the heart of more personalised customer products and services, while businesses look to evolve their growth strategies to cater for the changing tech landscape.
I’ve looked into my own crystal ball, while tapping up key experts in the space, to predict what lies ahead for fintech in 2022 and beyond:
A boost for BNPL
Often placed under the microscope by personal finance and tech critics, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL). Yet with more than 17 million UK customers having used this method, the trend is booming. Brittany Atkins, UK&I Country Lead at Streamtime and listed on the Innovate Finance Women in Fintech Powerlist, said:
“While BNPL has had to defend itself against a lot of criticism for being seen as promoting irresponsible spending, unlike credit cards, BNPL has proven its value in not only reducing the cost of lending, but also by acting like training wheels for lending to younger generations and by decreasing the likelihood of overspending through making the lender and consumer make decisions on lending on a purchase by purchase basis.”
I agree. A stronger focus on delivering consumer education about the benefits, risks and ‘how-to’ of staggered payments will be key to BNPL’s future success and we’re likely to see more of a focus on this next year.
Increased investment and another wave of M&A
2021 saw some big M&A action in the fintech sphere. According to FT Partners, Q2 of this year saw 350 transactions announced, the second-highest quarterly amount ever. Across the board, B2B firms in particular are most likely to attract funding rather than B2C funding. This wasn’t a shock to industry experts – our ‘Fintech Driving Global Change’ report had predicted this likely rise in B2B transactions. Yet the sheer duration of this trend has exceeded previous predictions. A longer-than-expected pandemic has led to an incessant digitisation drive, with organisations, including FS bodies, looking to take a streamlined, data-driven approach to customers and offerings.
The acquisition of nimble challengers by incumbents is therefore unlikely to dissipate. In fact, the demand for better data analysis and a growing appetite for AI won’t be solely limited to FS institutions, with more firms turning to fintech products for business management purposes from 2022; and investors know it too, making for a dynamic and thriving fintech landscape. Dhaval Gore, Head of Mayor’s International Business Programme (MIBP) at London & Partners, said:
“2021 has been a record year for investment into the fintech sector in London, as VCs continue to show a strong appetite to invest in companies at all stages of growth. Next year will be crucial for fintech firms supporting the SME community and those offering easy-to-use, frictionless and data-driven products should see a significant uptake as business owners see value in onboarding digital products to help them run their operations efficiently whilst also weathering economic uncertainties caused by the ongoing pandemic.”
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is set to lie at the crux of business strategies across fintech from next year. New research by Tech Nation, shows that while participation in UK fintech of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds has increased from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2021, this rise has not been equal across all communities. According to Nadia Edwards-Dashti, Chief Customer Officer at Harrington Starr and host of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Discussions podcast:
“The needle will move for gender equality and authentic inclusion. 2020 and 2021 have been incredibly transformative to the fintech working environment and leaders are becoming more aware of their responsibility to be better for their people and ultimately the success of their businesses.”
While some progress has therefore been made across DE&I, there is so much more to be done, and I believe 2022 will see some positive changes. An increased focus on the issue across business strategy will provide another of many vital stepping stones towards achieving diversity, equity and inclusion in fintech.
The events of 2020-2021 have underlined the purpose and potential of fintech. Despite the challenging nature of global circumstances, heightened digitisation has laid the foundations for another year of significant investment, growth and innovation. This, teamed with a determination to make the industry fairer and more inclusive, signals an extremely positive and exciting period ahead for fintech.
By Glesni Thomas, Senior Account Manager