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Dr Anino Emuwa is Founder and Managing Director of Avandis Consulting


The tighter regulatory environment following the 2008-2009 financial crisis constrained banks ability to innovate and helped to fuel the fintech revolution. Another crisis, the pandemic this time, is again bringing about major changes in the fintech industry and impacting the banking  sector.

The acceleration of digital transformation- a five-year shift taking place in a few months, according to experts- following the global lockdown led to a surge in e-commerce and digital payments, driving down bank’s share of the total market value of global banking and payments industry to 72% at the end of 2020 from 81% at the beginning of the year.  Paypal, for example saw its share price almost double during the same period. Currently, the top 5 global financial organisations by market capitalisation include 3 payments and fintech firms – Visa, Mastercard and Paypal

This booming lucrative payment sector hasn’t escaped the attention of GAFA- the big four technology companies- Google, Apple Facebook and Amazon who have already started making incursion into this space and their expansion into this space could lead to a large-scale disruption of the sector.

Anino Emuwa

It wasn’t positive for all fintechs during the pandemic. Lending platforms have come under pressure as the worsening economic climate is reflected in reduced borrowing, and signs of increasing defaults in both personal lending and small business loans as experienced by Lending Club and On Deck in the US, causing online lenders to tighten their underwriting standards.  Howeverr, in the longer term significant growth from this subsector is expected aided by digitization of lending

The instalment payment business has boomed creating billionaires in the process:  case in point, Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen, Australian co-founders of Afterpay, a market leader. New entrants are also faring well:   Max Levin –co-founder of Paypal—whose recent venture Affrim almost doubled users between November 2019 and July 2020  to 5.6 million. It has raised $500 million valuing it at more than $5 billion a 40% increase in from last year (Source Forbes).

Investment in the fintech sector dropped 30% during the first year of the pandemic according to McKinsey, forcing fintech companies to review their business models to focus on profit-making rather than cash-consuming customer acquisition strategies.  Investor’s focus shifted to fintech ventures which are showing revenues and evidence of scaling, with newer ventures finding it more difficult to access funding as VCs focused on businesses already in their portfolio. This led to concerns that pre seed and Series A ventures could lose out in the short term.

Happily, the first quarter 2021 global fintech investment has rebounded reaching a high of over $13.4 billion across North America, Europe and Asia with a record for mega rounds, 33, in a quarter, according to CBI insights – State of Fintech Q1 21 preview. Frontier markets also experienced this boom, Africa has seen an uptick in tech investments at over $2bn in 2019, five  times the level in five years with fintech accounting for the major part of this recent growth. In 2021, notable transactions included Stripe’s $200 million acquisition of Nigeria’s Paystack signalling its entrance into the African payments market via the continents largest economy  whilst Flutterwave closed a $170mm funding round valuing it at over $1 billion.

In emerging markets, technological leap frogging may well be a feature of fintech innovation finding solutions for solving some of the infrastructural gaps.   The UK, which known as the fintech capital of the Europe attracted almost $5 billion in fintech investment in 2019. In Q1, according to Pitchbook, UK fintech raised $2.9 bn across 117 deals.  It is still to be seen how the UK can continue to retain that status with Brexit now in force.

Other big drivers of trends in fintech will be in infrastructure in the near term, as well as advances in emerging technologies notably block chain, crypto assets and AI.  Digital currencies are currently booming- Bitcoin is currently valued at close to $60,000 compared with around $6,000 at ahead of the pandemic with a market capitalisation of over  $1 trillion, bigger than any bank, whilst Ethereum hit a new record at over $3,400 (as of  3rd May) , making 27 year old co-founder Vitalik Buterin, the world’s youngest  Cryptobillionaire. NFTs are becoming popular as an important cryptoasset used by creatives to sell their work of art and other intellectual property.  Central Banks can no longer ignore crypto currencies market and are responding to this perceived decentralised challenge to their sovereignty  with plans for CBDCs which are controlled by the government

In April 2020, China piloted a digital currency and notably, at the end of March, the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, has spoken about the possibility of Euro Digital currency in the next four years, with a decision to be made by EU countries mid-year.

In terms of Artificial Intelligence, the estimated value of AI in fintech  is expected to grow to over $22.6 billion in 5 years from $6.7 billion in 2019 according to Finextra, who predicts that AI and machine learning  will drive innovation particularly in areas such as robo-advisors, credit scoring, and process optimisation

On the regularity side , PSD2 coming on stream in Europe driving  open banking creating a boom the sector particularly for challenger banking. The post COVID-19 era is likely to see established fintech companies expanding their portfolio of services and also geographically.  For example, Revolut, one of UK’s  success stories, which started out as a payment platform has now extended into banking and is now seeking a US banking licence. At the same time, as governments globally come up with policies in response to concerns about customers data security as well as security of assets, more stringent controls and policies may reign in innovation.

Apart from advancements in technology, social trends are also impacting innovation: the pandemic has drawn attention to the need for values- based financial services to address equity, social justice and environmental concerns. With impact investing becoming more significant, we can expect investment flowing to supporting fintech solutions addressing global issues such as financial inclusion and sustainable finance. And as the digital native, Generation Z comes of age demanding more gamification, digitalised financial services, we will see fintech increasingly catering to this demographic.

In all, the fintech is sector is expected to continue to surge providing a challenge to traditional banking in many areas, one of the exciting areas is in Defi- as blockchain powered solutions replace the middleman in traditional financial services with a smart contract.   For now, the dampening in investments during the height of COVID seems to have been overcome. As banks continue to make equity investments in fintechs, it will be interesting to see possible mergers or large-scale acquisitions by banks of fintechs. Or even vice versa.


About the author

Dr Anino Emuwa is Founder and Managing Director of Avandis Consulting, a strategy and financial advisory firm in France.  A former corporate banker with Citibank, she is a also a non-executive director, sitting on several boards including the Board of Governors of Nottingham Trent University. Anino is a and Diversity and Inclusion advocate; she is a member of the Institute of Directors’ Expert Advisory Group on Diversity and Inclusion and a member of the global advisory Board of UK’s 20-first, a gender balance consultancy firm.


In-platform solutions are only a short-term enhancement, but bespoke AI is the future



By Damien Bennett, Global Director, Principal Consultant, Incubeta


If you haven’t heard anyone talking about artificial intelligence (AI) yet, then where have you been? Conversations about AI and its advantages to society have been a key talking point over recent months, with advances being made in the generative AI race and ChatGPT opening a whole plethora of possibilities. Many have highlighted the advantages of AI, but notably it’s ability to create human-like content.

But these discussions have only scratched the surface of what AI is capable of doing. It is for far more than just essay writing, adding Eminem to your rave and photoshopping dogs into pictures.

In marketing, we have been using AI for years, for everything from analyzing customer behaviors to predicting market changes. It’s enabled us to segment customers, forecast sales and provide personalized recommendations, having a huge impact on how our industry works.

It is even, for the more savvy marketers of the world, becoming a key tool in maximizing budget efficiency – which is apt, considering over 70% of CMOs believe they lack sufficient budget to fully execute their 2023 strategy.

Now, as AI becomes more intelligent, the number of efficiencies it can unlock continues to rise. Not only can it help brands get the most out of their available resources and identify any areas of waste, but it can also help highlight new opportunities for growth and maximize the impact of your budget allocation.

The trick, however, is to veer away from the norm of using in-platform solutions with a one-size-fits-all approach and create your own, bespoke solutions that are tailored to your business needs.


Pitfalls of in-platform solutions

In-platform solutions aren’t by any means a bad thing. In fact, built-in AI tools have become increasingly popular, owing to their ease of integration, user-friendly interfaces and minimal set up requirements. They come pre-packaged with the platform, offering the user the ability to leverage AI technologies without the need for in-depth technical expertise or the upfront cost of building a solution from scratch.

However, the streamlined and accessible nature of in-platform AI solutions comes at the expense of complexity and customization. They are designed to serve a broad user base, but for the most part are built using narrow AI solutions with predefined features and workflows.

This makes them great for assisting with common AI tasks, but they lack the flexibility to tailor functionality towards unique business requirements or innovative use cases, limiting the potential efficiencies and cost savings that can be unlocked. Additionally, if a business’ competitors are using the same platform, they are probably using the same AI solution, meaning any strategic advantage gained from these will be reduced.

Bespoke AI solutions, on the other hand, may carry a higher initial investment – but can offer a significantly more attractive ROI over a short amount of time.


Why customized and adapted AI is the key

The difference between bespoke AI and in-platform solutions is similar to that between home cooked food and a microwave meal. Yes, it is more time consuming to prepare, and yes it likely carries more of an upfront cost, but the end result is going to be far more appealing and will carry more long-term value (financially… not nutritionally).

That’s because bespoke solutions, by nature, will have been tailored to address your brands specific needs and challenges. These custom-built tools allow for much greater efficiencies by streamlining workflows across different channels, automating more complex tasks, and providing deeper, more relevant insights.

The increased level of optimization can significantly improve productivity and reduce operational costs over time, offering a higher ROI. The increased flexibility of bespoke AI also allows brands to implement innovative use cases that can significantly differentiate them from their competitors.

The data analyzed can be specifically chosen to match business requirements, as can the outputs of the AI tool, providing a significant advantage when understanding and acting on the insights provided.

Additionally, these tools are, by nature, more scalable. They can be updated, upgraded and expanded as needs change, ensuring they continue delivering value as the business grows. They can also be designed to integrate with any existing IT infrastructure, from CRM systems and databases to marketing platforms and sales tools – leading to more efficient and effective decision-making.


Managing finances with AI

It’s no secret that AI in marketing automation has, and will continue to, revolutionize the way marketing is done. It has a bright, if slightly terrifying, future and can help CMOs to unlock new efficiencies, maximize the impact of their budgets and increase their ROI. And as this technology becomes more advanced, its impact will only increase.

But we already know that…and so does everyone else.

So, in order for businesses to make themselves stand out from the crowd , they must look to fully adopt the power of AI. Creating a customized and unique AI solution could be the way to set yourself apart from your competitors. A bespoke AI tool can provide brands and businesses with features unique to them and their business needs. As a result, companies will benefit from more useful data and better results to make more data-driven decisions for their business. Ultimately, this will help brands to maintain a competitive edge over their competitors, deliver ROI and most importantly optimize their budgets.

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Is your business suffering with Fintech FOMO?




FinTech Trends In 2022

Tom Kiddle, Chief Commercial Officer at Equals Money


It’s a challenging time for businesses of all sizes, but the past three years created storms that are particularly hard for SMEs to weather. For businesses dealing with shrinking margins, while a weakened pound is making international purchases more costly, it’s a scary time.

For many businesses this meant initially reigning in any unnecessary costs, reducing investment in anything deemed as a ‘nice to have’, and focusing on keeping the lights on. However, despite not being out of the woods in terms of economic challenges, this year many SMEs have their eyes on growth.

While some might have been buoyed by the news that the UK narrowly avoided a recession at the end of last year[1], data shows businesses were already making investments before this news was released. In fact, UK business investment rose by 4.8% in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2022, coming in at 13.2% above where it was during the same quarter in 2021[2].

So, where are SMEs putting their cash? As well as predictable spending on IT equipment, machinery, and transport[3], businesses are also putting more funding than ever into technology investments – a trend that isn’t slowing down anytime soon. UK tech investment is set to grow at its fastest rate in over 15 years, both in terms of budget but also headcount[4]

Tom Kiddle

UK businesses are clearly seeing the real opportunity that technology, in all its various forms, presents to their operations. This may also be bolstered by the fact that tech investments are potentially more cost-effective now that the government has made recent changes to R&D tax relief, which sees things like cloud computing and data included in expenditure categories[5]. When it comes to revamping legacy systems and introducing Fintechs that offer businesses a smarter, easier, automated way of doing business, investing in technology can increasingly feel like a no brainer.

However, it’s rare that a one size fits all solution exists for businesses. What works for your competitor may not offer the same benefits to your organisation. In a world with so many risk factors, making smart investments that are aligned to your individual business goals is key.

Tom Kiddle, Chief Commercial Officer at innovative money movement solution Equals Money, explains four ways businesses can reap the rewards of smart tech investments:

1. Measurement

Can you measure the impact it will have on your business? It doesn’t have to be monetary, but if it gives you efficiency, visibility, or certainty, these can have measurable tangible impacts to your top and bottom line.

2. Insight

Does it tell you something you didn’t know before about your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and their behaviour?  What could you do with that information? Often, businesses lack critical insight on their key drivers, and understanding those can open up new opportunities.

3. Action

Pretty charts and graphs make for good reading, but make sure you’re taking action with your new piece of tech. Setting accountability for action from your latest investment will drive your business to achieve a return on that investment and ensure it doesn’t sit on the shelf.

4. Adoption, adoption, adoption

Often, the latest tech trend may seem like a great investment to the motivated few, but look more broadly: if your intended internal target for your new tech fails to adopt the new practice, you won’t achieve the return promised. Also, more likely than not, you’ll frustrate both the key supporters of the new product and those you’re imposing it on.

Innovative technology, particularly in the finance space, can transform the way you do business, but avoid being lured in by solutions that don’t align to your individual needs. Good suppliers should always take the time to give an honest appraisal of whether their product is right for you and should leave you feeling empowered to devote time to what matters most – growing your business.


[1] HR Solutions, 2022 [2] The Guardian, Feb 2023 [3] ONS, Dec 2022 [4] ONS, Dec 2022 [5] Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report, 2022 [6] BDO, 2023 [1] The Guardian, Feb 2023 [2] ONS, Dec 2022 [3] ONS, Dec 2022 [4] Nash Squared Digital Leadership Report, 2022 [5] BDO, 2023

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