Nov. 16, 2016
You may think that FinTech only relates to financial companies and has nothing to do with you. But actually, it may be more relevant to you than you realize.
FinTech’s four services
As we explained in our October 31, 2016 article titled “What is FinTech?”, the term combines the words “Finance” and “Technology” and refers to new services and business sectors born by combining IT with banking, securities, insurance and other financial sectors.
What kind of specific services can FinTech provide? NRI’s Daisuke Tanaka, who has worked in consulting regarding payment services and the like for more than ten years, divides FinTech services into four categories on the basis of how money is used.
- Managing money
Two examples are the cloud accounting service “Freee” and the bookkeeping software “Zaim”.
- Paying and receiving money
Two examples are “PayPal”, which is used to send and receive money online or using a smartphone, and “Apple Pay”, which can be used as a wallet alternative.
- Raising money
Two examples are the crowd-funding service “Kickstarter” and the social lending platform “LendingClub”.
- Investing money
Two examples are robo-advisors that use artificial intelligence for automated fund management and social trading in which funds are managed by imitating portfolios of people with good fund management outcomes. The insurance sector is also starting to provide products that utilize IoT.
Daisuke Tanaka of NRI’s ICT & Media Industry Consulting Department
Revitalizing financial markets
Let’s look at why FinTech is getting a lot of buzz right now.
One reason is that existing financial institutions have high hopes for FinTech. Japan has long had many banks, card companies and other financial institutions, and these institutions have as of yet been unable to break the conventional mold when it comes to the services they provide. Existing financial institutions are now seeking a new way forward by incorporating FinTech startups’ new business models, services and technologies. The Financial Services Agency also intends to loosen regulations so that financial markets can be revitalized through FinTech.
Another is that investors have high hopes for FinTech. Until now, many internet startups have introduced a variety of web services. When investment in those ventures settled down and investors started looking at other promising sectors in which they had not yet invested, FinTech caught their eye. “The hopes and expectations of the financial industry, government authorities, and investors came together at just the right timing, bringing FinTech to the fore,” says Tanaka.
Blockchain, a platform technology
FinTech is not only garnering attention because of its role in revitalizing the financial sector. “FinTech’s platform technologies for supporting services open many possibilities,” says Tanaka. One of those technologies is the blockchain, which supports the core of Bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin is a virtual currency circulating the globe without going through banks. Tanaka explains his interest in blockchain technology as follows.
“We think of conventional systems as having one big system in the center to which each location is connected and where information gets processed, but a blockchain doesn’t use a big system; instead, there is an environment where each part is loosely connected and information gets processed. With a blockchain, even if there is no central system, transaction data can be accurately managed and shared, and more complex processing can also be automated, making the technology very promising.”
Changing how administrative agencies work
It is thought that blockchains can be used not only in the financial sector but in a wide range of other sectors as well—for example, in distribution traceability, manufacturing supply chain management, and administrative agencies’ management of things like land and basic resident registers. “If use [of blockchains] progresses, not only will costs be reduced—there will be major changes in everything from methods of system building and operation to business models and the way administrative agencies work. The impact on society will be huge,” says Tanaka.
NRI will continue to keep a close eye on what those impacts will be.