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What’s Trending Across Fintech Verticals

With such a fast news cycle in fintech, sometimes it’s helpful to dissect the news based on verticals; looking at them each independently. And we’ve done just that. Here’s a quick synopsis of what’s trending among six fintech verticals.

We’ll be taking a closer look at each of these topics at FinovateFall (September 23 through 25 in New York), where the brightest minds in fintech will discuss what you need to know about the latest news during our breakout streams. Register today to save your seat.

Challenger banks

Challenger banks got their start during the 2008 financial crisis after consumers lost trust with mega banks and began looking for an alternative. Recently in this space, we’ve started seeing U.K. banks make inroads into the U.S., where there is less competition for non-traditional banking providers. After amassing a waitlist of 100,000 U.S. consumers, German challenger bank N26 launched in the U.S. this July. A few weeks earlier, Monzo also announced a U.S. expansion after amassing a user base of 2.2 million customers in the U.K.

These non-traditional banks are also experiencing a funding boom. Last month alone brought major funding rounds to three challenger banks. U.K.-based Atom raised $60 million at a $644 million valuation, N26 raised an additional $170 million investment at a $3.5 billion valuation, and MoneyLion raised $100 million at a valuation of almost $1 billion. And in June U.K.’s Monzo raised $144 million at a $2.5 billion valuation.

Geographical expansion and strong investor confidence in this space indicate it is ramping up, and we can expect more competing challenger banks to enter the arena soon. The influx of funds also brings the likelihood that, as the startups continue development efforts, new products and features may be on the horizon.

Regtech

In the past, regtech has been looked at as the ugly cousin within fintech sub sectors. While not as sexy as investing technology, this vertical has seen increased popularity as of late. With the API economy making bank-fintech partnerships the new norm, regulators are begging for oversight and regulation-as-a-service companies have stepped in with the solutions banks need to stay compliant.

Similarly, as enabling technology expands, so does the need for regulation. Fortunately, along with this need comes the advances in technology for the regtech sector itself, which has benefitted from increased automation and scalability as AI and machine learning gain traction and become more accessible for firms.

Open banking

The final deadline for PSD2 is looming. September 14 is the final deadline by which all EU companies must comply with PSD2’s regulatory technical standards and impose strong customer authentication methods. This has sparked a lot of recent conversation as it has been reported that 41% of EU banks missed the original deadline. And the stakes are high– not only can regulators impose fines, they can also revoke payment providers’ licenses.

Customer experience

Last fall the hot button topic was customer experience. Since then, there have been endless debates on Twitter and the blogosphere on the necessity of bank branches. Some argue that online and mobile channels are the best avenues to serve consumers whereas others contend that physical bank branches are essential to maintain a personal connection with customers. The biggest voice in this debate, however, are the numbers. According to the Financial Brand, 81% of banks and credit unions do not plan to close any branches this year.

It’s hard to talk about the customer experience without bringing up chatbots. The AI-powered technology can be used to scale and humanize the online experience. Not only have we seen an increase in chatbot technology providers, we’ve also been seeing more companies build chatbot capabilities into their own apps.

Banking and payments

It’s true that banking and payments is almost too broad to be considered a vertical of its own. And with such a big category, it can be difficult to narrow down current trends. One topic that has been bubbling up lately, however, is the need for real-time payments in the U.S. Just a couple of days ago, the Federal Reserve announced it will develop a real-time payment and settlement service, called FedNow, that will support faster payments in the U.S.

Voice banking technology has been another widely discussed topic among banks, fintechs, and analysts in the past few months. With voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Google home, and Apple’s Siri becoming commonplace in homes, consumers are getting used to asking their AI assistants for answers to quick questions. However, the possibility of using the technology to conduct day-to-day banking activity hasn’t been on consumers’ radar– that is, until recently. On July 1, the classic game of Monopoly released a voice banking version that eschews paper currency. Instead, Rich Uncle Pennybags (the Monopoly man) manages the players’ money. When consumers get used to using voice technology in a game, they will soon be looking for it in their real bank.

Wealth management

Wealth management and roboadvisory technologies haven’t changed dramatically since 2015, the height of the roboadvisor boom. However, in the past few months some wealthtech companies have been broadening their offerings to compete with traditional banks. Betterment, Wealthfront, and SoFi, for example, have all launched checking accounts. Many firms have also unveiled additional capabilities, as well, such as tools for trusts, donation features, 529 plan options, and more.

And as AIs get smarter and work harder, there will be a backpedaling of pure roboadvisory plays. Many wealthtech companies already offer a hybrid option that combines roboadvisor tools with advice and guidance from human advisors. The human touch will rise to the top as a must-have option as consumers manage their nest egg.