Fintech challenge good for banks, says Moodys

Added 20th May 2016

The rise of fintech firms has highlighted a digital shift in financial services, but banks will retain a place at the centre of the industry and continue to work, both alongside and in competition, with their new challengers, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Fintech challenge good for banks, says Moodys

The number of fintech-related startups is believed to be as high as 4,000, globally, with total estimated venture capital investment rising to more than $19bn (£13.1bn, €16.8bn) in 2015 from about $2.4bn in 2011.

Along with the high growth rate of investment, the sector has shown signs of maturation, with later stage investments accounting for a rising share of the total.

The number of 'exits' via acquisitions and (a still small number of) IPOs is also increasing.

Evolution

A new report from Moody's, ‘Financial Institutions - Global: Fintech Transforms Competitive Landscape, but Unlikely to Displace Banks' Central Role’ anticipates an evolutionary path for banks. It will see the traditional players take advantage of new technologies and approaches to improve the consumer experience in order to maintain competitiveness.

While the millennial cohort, who are typically more open to, and often expect, technology-enabled services and interfaces, are behind much of the impetus for fintech's rise, Moody's analysts said it will likely be a few years before this large group predominates in terms of financial services consumption.

Transformation

"Millennials lag prior generations along a number of indicators important to financial services firms, including lower household formation and home buying rates, higher student loan burdens, lower earnings and higher debt-to-income ratios," said Moody's senior vice president Robard Williams.

"Banks will certainly need to transform to appeal to this generation and counter fintechs' rise, but many incumbents have made significant steps towards implementing their own digital strategies and they have some time before the full transformation is complete."

The ratings agency noted that much of the focus of fintechs has been on retail banking services, largely lending and financing along with payments-related products and services.

Competitive advantage

While the new fintech firms have shown growth in these areas, in some cases filling spaces vacated by the banks due to post-crisis regulation, Moody's said banks have a number of competitive advantages that stand them in good stead as the industry evolves.

These incude large customer bases, deep client relationships, long lending histories and experience navigating regulatory bodies.

"For banks, being traditional players in the space remains a significant competitive advantage, but it also means they have the resources to build internally or acquire to establish a presence on new platforms," said Williams.

Though a major competitive reversal for banks is unlikely, Moody's noted that several forces could shift the scales or accelerate the transformation of the industry, including greater movement toward open data.

Additionally, a more defined regulatory stance would crystalise, and perhaps change, the rules of engagement; the introduction of a 'killer app'; or the entrance of one or more bigger technology companies into the fintech space could all conceivably cause seismic shifts in the industry.

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About Author

Kirsten Hastings

Senior Reporter

Kirsten is a senior reporter for International Adviser, covering global news stories about the financial services industry. She joined Last Word Media in October 2015 after two years working as a reporter covering the staffing and recruitment industry. Kirsten has a Masters in Financial Journalism from the University of Stirling. 

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