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Changing landscapes: Recognising fintech’s potential in 2022.



Dima Kats, CEO at Clear Junction.  

The restrictions put in place to slow down covid-19 in the UK have almost drawn to a close, but their lasting effects have likely shaped the economy for a long time. There have been plenty of industries that faced economic hardship during the pandemic, but there have also been more than a few market sectors that were well equipped to take advantage of the logistical challenges coronavirus presented, and fintech proved one of the primary beneficiaries. Fintech and the wider payments sector are still relatively new markets and in 2021 they received significant investment. Last year saw phenomenal fundraising for the UK fintech sector, which collectively raised over £8.5 billion during the calendar year.

Fintech’s success during the past two years was borne out of necessity; It is quite difficult to pay someone in person when you’re not allowed to leave the house!


Commencing Crypto Capitalisation. 

Cryptocurrency trading and investments have become increasingly popular in recent years. With first-time investors and crypto enthusiasts lured in by the high value of bitcoin, financial organisations are becoming increasingly aware of crypto’s mainstream popularity. In 2022 the crypto landscape will be seen as less speculative, opening the broader financial market to cryptocurrencies users. Whilst crypto was ranked fifth with 28% of respondents who saw cryptocurrencies as a top concern in a survey conducted by PwC; banks are looking to increase their investment in fintech for that exact reason. In a study carried out by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), 60% of central banks are beginning to consider Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC).

This more serious consideration of fintech can in part be attributed to the pandemic, as the world shifted to an entirely digital way of working. Now the foundations and thinking are in place; it is just a matter of putting the plans in place for the transition to be made.


Unlocking the value of upskilling your workforce.

There has been a sharp increase in demand for industry professionals, and the results of that will bear out in 2022. This has been down to people changing their jobs and retraining. We’re now seeing a better-skilled workforce throughout the payments industry, which will benefit businesses next year. We’ll be seeing organisations offer new and improved services to enhance the customer experience. With the pandemic forcing organisations and customers alike to be more economical, services concentrating on helping customers understand their spending habits and money management may receive more attention from banks.

Furthermore, the amount of venture capital increased substantially – as more than $288 billion was invested worldwide in the first half of 2021, up by just under $110 billion compared to the second half of 2020. These cash injections have resulted in more job vacancies and increased products and services offered by organisations. Large companies have continued to develop and expand because of this. With the easy access to cash, the industry has become very entrepreneurial, with leaders more likely to become less risk averse.


Reshaping payments through partnerships:

As the fintech industry grows, becomes more diverse and adapts to ever-changing regulations, there will be an increasing need for partnerships and collaboration to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

One direction we’ll be seeing partnerships emerge will be in the form of open banking. Payments industry analysts predict that firms who adopt open banking early and secure partnerships will reap the rewards compared to their competitors, especially those who specialise in helping their clients fit into ESG guidelines more.

2022 will be the year when open finance starts reshaping financial services and the year that banks open up to the opportunities that open finance represents. Regulators in the EU and UK are proposing measures to heighten data sharing across a broader set of financial products. 2022 will see many banks experimenting and evolving their business models toward a more open and collaborative approach.

2021 was a turbulent but successful year for fintech, and 2022 will likely bring new significant opportunities to take advantage of. New niches in the fintech market are opening up, and as the economy diversifies, those opportunities will be more accessible. Sustainable fintech, capitalising on crypto and increased data transparency in the sector are just three of the major subjects of interest to keep a close eye on in 2022.



Does the middle market have a financial edge?  



Companies tend to look up the ladder when searching for ways to improve efficiency and business performance. What are larger competitors, or others outside their industry, doing right that they can learn from and implement?

What smart technologies or bright ideas do they have that could create efficiencies for them, too?  

As we enter yet another likely volatile year for business, punctuated by recession, should businesses continue to only look up? And could the approach of a slightly smaller business offer more of a competitive edge? 

Large corporates tend to pioneer innovation in automation by simple virtue of the resources they have. Home to transformation directors and departments, with the ability to implement large overarching software systems, they pave the way for others and are often the first to digitise their source-to-pay cycle at pace.  

While growing businesses understand the merits of full automation, implementing it is often too expensive and it doesn’t bring the rapid realisation of benefits that they need. They need to consider what will bring them the biggest return on investment – and the reality is that those in the middle market don’t necessarily need all the elements of an ‘all-doing’ piece of software. What’s more, without dedicated personnel to project manage a transition, they frequently lack the currency of time to be able to comfortably transform working practices, and take staff with them on the journey, without taking resource from other areas of the business.  

For SMEs, digital transformation has never been quite as seismic a shift. Instead, they tend to take a modular approach, employing digital solutions only for particular areas of their finance department, where they need them. This has never been a particularly strategic move. Rather, for a growing business that values quick results and watches their outgoings with greater scrutiny than their larger counterparts, it’s something that suits them better. A modular approach also comes with very little disruption and can be implemented relatively seamlessly into their existing organisational setups. 

But while growing businesses are opting for a modular approach because it’s the most cost and time effective option for them, the benefits go far beyond that. The beauty of a modular approach is that it is agile. The last three years – with pandemics, an increasingly challenging climate and shifting geopolitical tensions impacting our global economy – have only served to remind us of how suddenly, and drastically, a business landscape can change. The companies that have weathered the storm are those that have reacted and adapted quickly – those that have been capable of changing the way they do things with little impact on day-to-day operations. A modular approach can offer just that.  

Businesses using modular finance technology can integrate small solutions that sync up with the rest of their processes, quickly and seamlessly – and these systems can be integrated into their existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), too. There’s no restriction of a monolithic or aging piece of software either – finance teams can add and update small solutions to their daily operations without the upheaval of having to replace or update large IT infrastructures or wider working practices within the business to accommodate the new software.

Unrestricted by entrenched and hard-to-change systems, the speed with which SMEs are able to react to market changes is miles ahead. A prompt software add-on to manage risk, or create a quick fix in response to a market shift, can be virtually a knee-jerk reaction. SME’s abilities to bend and flex to today’s world efficiently is seeing them reap the benefits of a modular approach. It’s lean, it’s fast and it’s facilitating their growth with a strong competitive edge. And as some of these companies’ growth propels them into the large corporate sphere, they’re choosing to keep a modular approach to finance.  It will certainly be interesting to watch those middle-sized companies which grow to the extent that they find themselves competing in the same space. With no financial remodelling to assume a large ‘all-doing’ piece of software, they’ll be competing against their counterparts with completely different tools in their arsenal.  

With technology, working life and business needs continuing to change day to day, we have another year ahead of us that will see companies running to keep pace with each other – and fast-growing companies’ approach to finance could be the silver bullet that enables them to catch up with, and even take on, big enterprises. It might just give them a competitive edge against large corporates in these turbulent times.

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Consumer demand driving sustainable payments




Jenn Markey, VP Payments & Identity, Entrust


Sustainability is a buzzword that seems to be at the forefront of all industries. Since The Paris Agreement of COP21 back in 2016, organisations must now report on the sustainability of their actions per government requirements. While this has put pressure on organisations to re-evaluate their business plans to incorporate sustainability as a core business component, it has opened up vast opportunities for organisations to gain a competitive edge, while adhering to government regulations and improving sustainability. The payments industry has proved to be no exception.

From physical cash and card payments to digital payments through mobile phones, all forms of payment have an environmental impact in some way, and financial service providers must, therefore, evaluate their actions.

A growing consumer demand

Firstly, it’s important to recognise that the issue is not that payments are unsustainable. It is more related to consumer awareness and increased government oversight and regulation.

In today’s society, most consumers want to be sustainable and because of this, have a heightened awareness of the consequences of their actions. This means that if businesses don’t have an environmentally friendly payment option, they risk dissuading a large proportion of consumers from using their banking or financial services.

Jenn Markey

This even applies to the ways consumers make payments on a day-to-day basis. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a drastic shift in popularity of contactless and digital payment formats for safety and convenience reasons. This trend continues to grow as consumers see the benefits that digital and contactless payments have on shrinking carbon footprints. Of course, incorporating digital payments can work towards this by reducing plastic waste associated with physical cards, as well as their packaging and production energy. And even more known to the consumer in a high-speed society, digital cards are instant – if you get a new card from a digital-first bank, in most cases, you can add it to your e-wallet and use it straight away. Speed paired with sustainability makes the digital card increasingly popular in today’s society.

A preference for physical cards

While it might seem that digital payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay dominate in terms of popularity, research suggests that physical cards are still here to stay. In our recent consumer study, The Great Payments Disruption, respondents listed credit/debit cards with chips (50%) as their most preferred payment method, but contactless credit/debit cards (48%) were a close second.

With this in mind, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, as banks and financial institutions can improve their sustainability practices for physical cards whilst still abiding to the growing adoption of digital cards. Adopting sustainable practices will help banks and financial institutions adhere to ISO 14001 requirements, an internationally agreed standard that maps out the requirements for an environmental management system. What’s more, expected regulation and oversight following the Paris Agreement further highlights the need for banks and financial institutions to take action on sustainable practices. Such requirements outline ways for the sector to improve environmental actions by being more efficient with resources to reduce waste. Reducing the number of resources being used for printing cash or physical cards, for example, will not only improve company sustainability, but also lower production costs.

A further benefit for banks and financial institutions lies in the ability to make physical cards more sustainable by improving durability to extend their lifetime and, where possible, explore eco-friendly card substrates. Today, most payment cards are not biodegradable and, therefore, need to be disposed of in a manner that can be wasteful. Card manufacturers are working on more environmentally-friendly materials to reduce their carbon footprint in the future. Producing cards with durable graphics technology extends card life, meaning lower demand for new cards, fewer materials needed in the production of cards and card printers, and of course less waste. Additionally, extending the life of physical cards will help with the ongoing supply issues regarding chip shortages.

A more sustainable banking sector

Over the next few years, we can expect to see a continuation of the post-pandemic trend of cashless and e-commerce transactions. This paints a positive picture for sustainable payments as the ongoing adoption of alternative payments means a reduction in carbon emissions. Most importantly, banks and institutions can already incorporate more sustainable practices, such as printing cards in-house, and only when required, for near-immediate distribution to keep up the pace of instant e-wallets, while switching to more sustainable printing materials and practices.

What’s clear is that contrary to belief, the subject of sustainable payments is not a case of simply switching to digital payments and eliminating the physical card altogether. It’s about increasing the sustainability of physical cards to keep financial accessibility for every consumer in mind. This should be the next stop for banks and financial institutions on their journey to a more sustainable sector – one where we look after all of our consumers’ needs in today’s society.

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