Fintech: how to distinguish real changes in financial services from media manipulation?

The word “fintech” is now widely known. Of course, now it has become a main trend, because customers have more than a cash desk window for solving his/her tasks. 5–10 years of hard work of the main fintech companies in Ukraine — and our financial services level doesn’t simply lag behind the EU, but sometimes even outpaces it.

This we already know — sometimes I like to talk about it too often. Others also know, given the number of thematic conferences and flows at general events, devoted to trends and the future of transactional business. But here is the problem — it relevant for any sufficiently popular phenomenon in Ukrainian infosphere — the discussion around it becoming less and less substantive, becomes totally filled with «experts». Sometimes it’s difficult to understand, where the domestic fintech is really developing (not just talking about it) and why all this is need to be dome through other 5–10 years. I decided to collect several popular theses and tell, which of them are confirmed by practice, and which are born in speculations.

Fintech finds people who previously didn’t have a bank account — true

An important issue of concern to state regulators in many countries — including in Ukraine, and itэs called financial inclusion. This is a set of solutions, that gives free access to the use of financial products and services to the customers: with adequate tariffs, relevant services, with universal access and working in the legal plane.

In fact, fintech solutions develop the ability to reach people who are not involved or have limited access to traditional financial services. In the first place — thanks to the development of payment services on mobile phones and within the Internet.

Ukraine has a situation in which the traditional financial infrastructure — as in most CIS countries — was poorly developed. And the fact that over the past number of years the amount of non-cash payments has crossed the mark of 45%, speaks not about the achievements of ordinary banks, but the fact banking services has “moved” to a smartphone and to payment sites.

Fintech will destroy traditional banks — media-manipulation

When people don’t understand something, they demonize it. In February I told, why traditional banks wouldn’t disappear and that nothing threatens them — if we take a quick look at the growth of deposit portfolios and profits, which our banking sector regularly reports on. Transformation, intensive development is a completely different situation. Banks have begun to compete with each other in the size of technological teams and the efficiency of innovation introduced to customers. They started the “arms race” for the best online banking for business. The banks are doing well, even better than in the conventional 2009, because those who survived the “bank-falling” and in reform, became stronger and now understand, how to make money and find a customers.

Fintech removes cash — truth (part of it)

But not really. Let’s take Sweden as an example — a country that almost completely abandoned cash. There is a currency exchange in cash, ATMs — at every step. What’s the matter? Fintech services integrated non-cash payments into all user habits, making the payments with a card / mobile wallet / on the Internet more convenient and faster. Cash payments are here and will remain being there, as remains FM-radio or analog mail. What for? Because there is an audience for which this is relevant. Forced digitalization, like any other compulsion to use — we ended it in 1991, right?

Fintech is a global surveillance tool — media-manipulation

I met even that interpretation too. Before you talking/writing this, you need to stop watching «Black Mirror» series in a booze mode. But seriously — the digital era has cataloged your personal data in social networks long ago. But probably that’s why a GDPR appeared in the EU countries, called to protect the user data. The world is changing, it’s a clear fact. But it doesn’t change unilaterally, it reacts to changes and newness with the help of restrictions, regulations and formalizations. User data is a thing we actually “pay” for access to payment services in 24/7/365 mode. And this is as normal as the disappearance of pigeon mail, stagecoaches and telegraph. And advertising, for which user data are most often used, is monitored and regulated more and more each year.

Fintech will replace many public services — true

Already replaces — and this is a quality replacement, which is a sin to complain. A single e-ticket for public transport instead of « please, pass for the passage». A unified hospital card system. A possibility to open and close a legal entity online, pay taxes, without leaving your laptop. Estonia, for example, has implemented a system of online voting for citizens at the elections — and it works in parallel with the paper voting. Fintech solutions minimize human interaction during payment transactions with a state. In the case of reforms aimed ещ overcome the corruption, this is generally the ideal solution. Which Ukraine masters. Slow, but inevitable.

The most effective way to distinguish media manipulation in fintech from real innovation (if you are not part of this business) is absolutely archaic, but true. It is necessary to look not just at words, but at actions, compare them and develop critical thinking. After all, sometimes it’s difficult to understand behind working days, how difficult it was before and how much free time and opportunities there are now.

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank