In this episode of Disruption Insights focusing on fintech, we learn from the experiences of Jesse Owens II, the VP of Product at Wells Fargo.
At his current role, Jesse is responsible for, as he puts it, “delivering on the connectivity of banking products and solutions across the fintech ecosystem through secure, scalable, reliable, and modular developer tools”.
He has extensive experience in the financial industry. Before taking over his current role, Jesse worked, among others, as Director of Product at Mastercard and spent six years at JP Morgan Chase. See what you can learn from this seasoned fintech expert.
What technologies or solutions are really trending in fintech? Can we expect exponential growth in any of fintech areas (like regtech or insurtech)? What role will regulators play in the expansion of financial startups? In the Fintech Uncovered miniseries, we gather insights and opinions from industry experts to answer the most pressing questions and foresee what the future fintech landscape will look like.
💡 Trends in fintech
Most impactful technologies in fintech
I'm particularly excited for 5G and the possibilities it can unlock from a consumer perspective. If you factor in the eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband technology), consumers will experience faster speeds for use cases requiring high data rates, like large-scale video streaming, downloading content, data visualization, etc.
With the implementation of 5G, consumers can expect up to 100x performance gains in comparison to 4G networks, which signals opportunities for fintechs and banks to deliver more value-added services that previously would have introduced performance lags on devices.
These services may include real-time payments or the facilitation of assets on the blockchain. By nature, blockchain and crypto take a lot of energy consumption and CPU throughput.
With the allocation of extra bandwidth, we're able to deliver faster consumer experiences when facilitating digital or crypto transactions.
This infrastructure can make value-added services that are nascent today become the norm, functioning as an intersection between innovation from a tech perspective and delivering customer value.
Micro frontends (MFEs) would be my second bet for the most impactful technologies in fintech. What microservices have done for cloud computing, I see micro frontends having the same – if not a greater – impact on how organizations design and deploy consumer-facing products in the future. For example, teams will have greater autonomy and control over how their application is introduced to the market.
I like to think about each DOM element as its unique API and the Single Page Applications (SPAs) orchestrating different jobs from each DOM that acts as their own independent application. This type of decoupled frontend architecture with a bounded context unlocks new opportunities for organizations building experiences centered around payments, information reporting, checkout, trading, etc. – to innovate on those customer journey touchpoints holistically with an adaptable technology stack.
Solutions disrupting the industry right now
Embedded finance is my first choice because the whole notion around it is really about how we can embed users’ banking data in the apps they use. So, instead of driving consumers to their banking portal, it’s about becoming enablers of the desired experience by having their data more accessible at the point of need.
Rather than dictating how customers should interact with their data, taking the omni-platform approach through data connectivity yields operating leverage for the data provider at one go and allows integrators consume the data as they choose.
In addition, customers are happy with having real-time access to their data, thereby improving their payment, cash management, and reporting workflows. For example, as a consumer, you should have the flexibility to log in to an app and view your relevant checking, savings, and investment accounts in a single user interface, rather than be forced to log in to multiple portals in order to view your information.
With these experiences becoming more commonplace for consumers, it provides an opportunity to set goals, budgets, investment allocations etc. and save the time you would spend on managing finances.
Open banking is my second choice here. It’s a foundational component for the fintech industry to set the standards on how data is shared and to establish the constraints and frameworks to innovate in order to deliver a consistent customer experience across digital products.
🌍 Current state of affairs
VC investment in fintech
VC investments will continue supporting fintech startups, but I expect them to focus on more specialized solutions.
We’re going to see more legislation inspired by what has happened in the EU, particularly in the US. It’s going to establish the need for an open banking framework and create the interoperability of consumer data. It basically means that consumers can shop for the best financial products with the best rates of financial institutions without actually being their customer.
Accordingly, I see the opportunity of investments going into the space of consumer data portability and data connectivity. It’s about how banks make consumer data and the commercial data of customers more accessible with their consent to have better access to their finances, loans, and credit.
Another area that investments will continue to happen is the crypto space. We're getting to the point where there's a growing acceptance of regulatory changes needed in crypto, particularly around the custody of crypto assets.
Fintech will need to adhere to, from a custody standpoint, requirements such that customers are insured up similarly to how banks have done, thus establishing consumer trust in crypto assets.
I see that as a fintech opportunity which will bring about legislation, standards, and frameworks in which the entire ecosystem will need to participate in order to ensure the longevity of crypto assets.
I also think that the area of facilitating cross-border transactions will continue to be an opportunity and a challenge, which is why it will continue attracting VC investments.
💸 Fintech now and then
Evolution of corporate innovation
From my perspective, traditional B2B enterprises have evolved over years to care about the end-to-end customer journey from pre-sales (i.e. discovery), onboarding, activation, and support phases.
To ensure unmet needs and opportunities to delight consumers are being addressed, a company can no longer offer point-to-point solutions without considering the end-to-end customer experience holistically.
Definition of sustainability in fintech
I look at sustainability from the lens of CPU consumption and server utilization. When building products, we tend to measure value by customer desirability, business viability, and technical feasibility.
Sustainability should also be considered when building a system design that will impact the environment.
If you’re building an online directory for a store that allows shoppers to search and discover new products, it's imperative to ensure your search queries on the backend are meeting a standard in relation to the energy consumption of specific resources, which maps to a sustainability metric.
Way to more sustainable financial services
There are opportunities for a dual track approach to be developed. Depending on a business, there are steps you can take to be more sustainable; however, there should be a third-party entity that will help companies provide some sustainability standards and even some metrics that they can start moving towards.
Oftentimes, when you hear “sustainability”, it's usually used in a very loose and almost aspirational, rather than a tactical, sense. You may hear a company say “With every debit card we issue, we're going to plant 1,000 trees in underserved communities.” OK, but what’s the impact of those thousand trees on the sustainability of our environment? There really isn't anything that would allow us to go back and measure the impact of the 1,000 trees being planted in those underserved communities associated with each debit card issued.
There are companies that can pursue sustainability endeavors, but when we start talking about an impact, we need experts to really help us define goals, benchmarks, and metrics to make a material change. Industry experts on climate and sustainability can also assist us in providing some clarity around the benchmarks or metrics that companies can start moving towards. Following that, companies should track these as a part of their quarterly or annual support of recap on how they're doing in regards to sustainability.
The way you do that is incentives. There's a way of incentivizing (e.g. tax benefits) to ensure that there's a business benefit of you being sustainable. As much as we would like to think that we all agree on the need to do as much as we can to ensure the future of our environment – unless you can tie that to a business outcome – it will be hard to sustain these sustainability efforts.Want to be a part of the Disruption Insights series? Shoot me an email at email@example.com
Learn from other experts:
- "Foster Innovation by Creating a Safe Space and Removing Typical Barriers" with Alvin Cho from Fiserv
- "Innovation Is Incomplete Without Thinking About the Customer" with Rohit Kumar from SGeBIZ
- "Organizations Need to Be More Conscious of the World They Operate In" with John Avery from FIS