It is difficult to imagine a world without the Internet or mobile devices. They have become core elements of our lifestyle and have brought a high degree of disruption to virtually every area of business. The financial services (FS) industry is no exception; the digital revolution is transforming the way customers access financial products and services. Although the sector has experienced a degree of change in recent years, the constant penetration of technology-driven applications in nearly every segment of FS is something new. At the intersection of finance and technology lies a phenomenon that has been accelerating the pace of change at a remarkable rate and is reshaping the industry’s status quo—it is called FinTech.
What is FinTech?
FinTech is a dynamic segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology sectors where technology-focused start-ups and new market entrants innovate the products and services currently provided by the traditional financial services industry. As such, FinTech is gaining significant momentum and causing disruption to the traditional value chain. In fact, funding of FinTech start-ups more than doubled in 2015, reaching $12.2 billion, up from $5.6 billion in 2014, based on the companies included on our DeNovo platform. Cutting-edge FinTech companies and new market activities are redrawing the competitive landscape, blurring the lines that define players in the FS sector.
Our objectives and approach
This report assesses the rise of new technologies in the FS sector, the potential impact of FinTech on market players and those players' attitudes toward the latest technological developments. Additionally, the report offers strategic responses to this ever-changing environment.
Our analysis is based on the following:
- Primary data derived from the results of a global survey that includes feedback from a broad range of players in the world’s top financial institutions—For this study, we surveyed 544 respondents, principally chief executive officers (CEOs), heads of innovation, chief information officers (CIOs) and top-tier managers involved in digital and technological transformation. Our survey was distributed to leaders in various segments of the FS industry in 46 countries.
- Insights and proprietary data from DeNovo, PwC’s Strategy& platform, composed of a 50-member team of FinTech subject matter specialists, strategists, equity analysts, engineers and technologists with access to more than 40,000 public and proprietary data sources.
In the first section, we explore FS market participants’ perspectives on disruption. Next, we'll highlight the main emerging FinTech trends in the various FS industries and the readiness of the market to respond to these trends. Finally, we'll offer suggestions about how market players should strategically approach FinTech.
The Epicenter of Disruption
New digital technologies are in the process of reshaping the value proposition of existing financial products and services. While we should not underestimate the capacity of incumbents to assimilate innovative ideas, the disruption of the financial sector is clearly underway. And consumer banking and payments, already on the disruption radar, will be the most exposed in the near future, followed by insurance and asset management.
Disruption targets mostly consumer banking and payments
In keeping with the changes already underway, the majority of our survey participants see consumer banking as well as fund transfer and payments as the sectors most likely to be disrupted over the next five years.
In consumer and commercial lending, for example, the emergence of online platforms allows individuals and businesses to lend and borrow between each other. Lending innovation also manifests in alternative credit models, use of non-traditional data sources and powerful data analytics to price risks, rapid customer-centric lending processes and lower operating costs.
In recent years, the payments industry has also experienced a high level of disruption with the surge of new technology-driven payment processes, new digital applications that facilitate easier payments, alternative processing networks and the increased use of electronic devices to transfer money between accounts.
Asset management and insurance are also on the disruption radar
Although a high level of disruption triggered by FinTech is already beginning to reshape the nature of lending and payment practices, a second wave of disruption is making inroads in the asset management and insurance sectors. Our survey found that this perception is confirmed by insiders. Nearly half of insurers and asset and wealth managers consider their respective industries to be the most disrupted. When asked which part of the FS sector is the most likely to be disrupted by FinTech over the next five years, 74% of insurance companies identified their own industry, while only 26% of players from other sectors agreed; 51% of asset managers said their industry will be disrupted, while only 31% of other players agreed.
However, there seems to be a perception gap here. Professionals from other industries do not see the same level of disruption in these areas. The fact that only insiders are aware of this situation, while outsiders don’t perceive it, could indicate the disruption is in its very early stages. Even so, venture capitalists are looking very closely at start-ups dedicated to reinventing the way we invest money and buy insurance. Annual investments in InsurTech startups have increased fivefold over the past three years, with cumulative funding of InsurTechs reaching $3.4 billion since 2010, based on companies followed in our DeNovo platform.
The pace of change in the global insurance industry is accelerating more quickly than could have been envisaged. The industry is at a pivotal juncture as it grapples with changing customer behavior, new technologies and new distribution and business models.
The investment industry is also being pulled into the vortex of vast technological developments. The emergence of data analytics in the investment space has enabled firms to home in on investors and deliver tailored products and automated investing. Additionally, innovations in lending and equity crowdfunding are providing access to asset classes formerly unavailable to individual investors, such as commercial real estate.
Customer-centricity is fueling disruption
As clients are becoming accustomed to the digital experience offered by companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, they expect the same level of customer experience from their financial services providers. FinTech is riding the waves of disruption with solutions that can better address customer needs by offering enhanced accessibility, convenience and tailored products. In this context, the pursuit of customer-centricity has become a main priority, and it will help to meet the needs of digital native clientele.
Over the next decade, the average FS consumer profile will change dramatically as the Baby Boomer generation ages and generations X and Y assume more significant roles in the global economy. The latter group, also known as “Millennials” (those born between 1980 and 2000), is bringing radical shifts to client demographics, behaviors and expectations. Its preference for a state-of-the-art customer experience, speed and convenience will further accelerate the adoption of FinTech solutions. Millennials seem to be bringing a higher degree of customer-centricity to the entire financial system, a shift that is being crystallized in the DNA of FinTech companies. While 53% of financial institutions believe that they are fully customer-centric, this share exceeds 80% for FinTech respondents. In this respect, 75% of our respondents confirmed that the most important impact FinTech will have on their businesses is an increased focus on the customer.
This post was co-written by: John Shipman, Dean Nicolacakis, Manoj Kashyap and Steve Davies.