To say that the past two years have reshaped the way we live, work, and do business is an understatement — and the pandemic’s impact on fintech has become evident across all aspects of the industry. As we look forward to 2022, there are a few trends that I expect will continue to impact and change the landscape of fintech for both companies and consumers.
Fintech companies will invest in providing greater accessibility and flexibility to consumers.
The recent strength of equity markets, rise in home values, and record-low interest rates has led to an abundance of capital for innovation, which in turn has paved the way for new products and services to emerge.
At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed many formerly in-person processes, like appraisals and notarizations, to digital alternatives that have prompted a more rapid adoption of new technologies and online experiences. As a result, this shift to virtual transactions will not only cut some of the red tape to speed up application and approval processes for financing but will also likely improve the accessibility of offerings to a larger group of consumers. For example, more innovative underwriting approaches and increasingly flexible terms and requirements may make it easier for applicants in a wide range of financial situations to meet criteria and qualify for assistance.
Recent research from the Electronics Transactions Association (ETA) has shown that these efforts are already underway, as an increasing number of fintech companies are adopting new technologies to reach underserved consumers. These include mobile payments, prepaid products, and financial literacy initiatives to help individuals learn more about personal finance so they can make more confident, informed decisions.
Fintech companies will prioritize a balance of human interaction and automation.
While the pandemic has spurred a migration to digital platforms for many previously face-to-face transactions out of necessity, this move has also highlighted the continued importance of a personal component, as consumers have made it clear that computers won’t cut it for all activities, especially as it relates to the sensitive and serious topic of money. Another factor to take into consideration is recent challenges in workforce availability, which may make automation more of an inevitability or necessity than a choice for many companies.
Ultimately, the goal will be striking a balance where possible. Depending on the type of interaction, there may be times when individuals prefer an element of human experience to a completely automated process, and vice versa. Going forward, fintech companies will place an increased emphasis on meeting people where they are through the means that work best for them.
As Etie Hertz of Loris AI points out, “Fintech companies need to prioritize real-time customer care. The good news is that the technology exists. The bad news is that it’s not being prioritized…. It shouldn’t be easier to receive customer support for your online grocery order than it is to inquire about your own investments. “
It’s not only about ensuring that there’s an element of person-to-person connection, however. With more and more digital interactions, 2022 will likely see companies introducing value-added services beyond their primary products in order to cultivate and maintain long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with consumers and keep their brands top of mind.
Simon Powley, head global advisor consultant for Diebold Nixdorf, emphasizes that man and machine need to go hand in hand for success. “Customers can still utilize self-service technology, but the overall experience still needs to be a good one. If you integrate and leverage all your technology, the customer will see how you are not just focused on efficiency, you are focused on experience.”
Fintech companies will place an increased focus on mission and culture.
The rapid shift to a remote work culture has forced companies across all industries to rethink — and in some cases, realign — their priorities and values from here on out. Gone are the days when perks like free catered lunches or ping-pong tables sold candidates on a company. Culture is still paramount, but how it’s cultivated and maintained has undergone a necessary evolution; one that emphasizes an ongoing commitment to supporting and nurturing team members as human beings, rather than just as employees.
Life and work are intertwined more than ever, so prospective employees are also considering what’s important to them in a new role beyond a paycheck. They’re looking for more meaningful work at mission-driven companies that make a difference in the lives of others, not only through their day-to-day job responsibilities, but also through corporate social responsibility efforts and volunteering initiatives.
“Working, particularly in a digital era, has increasingly merged the work self with the personal self,” Aqsa Zubair, a Fintech Specialist at the Bermuda Monetary Authority, told Sage Advice. “People want to be a part of organizations that align with their value systems. As such, the employee, customer, and client are evolving, and the organization must cater accordingly to retain and grow its relevance and position within the market—meaning, yes there is currency in conscience.”
With a deliberate focus on creating a purposeful and socially conscious work environment — whether it’s remote or in-person — fintech companies can position themselves to attract and retain top talent that leads them to success in 2022 and in years to come.
Jeffrey Glass, Hometap CEO and Cofounder, is a serial entrepreneur, business operator, and investor. He has been the founder and CEO of multiple successful technology-driven companies over the past three decades, leading businesses through difficult moments, as well as periods of hyper growth. He has also been an investor in a broad set of businesses during his tenure as a Managing Director at Bain Capital. Jeffrey holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from Amherst College.