Throughout the past few decades, the financial sector has transformed drastically. It is nothing like what it used to be at the beginning of the 21st century. We sometimes fail to recognize the importance of the change and how much has changed, nevertheless, put in perspective, we can easily reflect on the positive impact digitalization has had on the industry and beyond. Today, financial services are more widely and easily available than ever before, significantly contributing to the economic development of the entire world.
Nevertheless, many people are not aware of the history of fintech. When thinking of mobile banks and web banking platforms, we naturally believe, that fintech, the correlation of financial and tech sectors, was born just a few years ago. However, the truth is drastically different. This niche of the industry has been around for decades, born along with the introduction of first credit and debit cards approximately seven decades ago.
The first credit card was launched in the 1950s but was an instant failure of the commercial banking sector. Not because it lacked efficiency or use, but there was simply not enough trust from society to invest in something so innovative. Back then, when cash was the only option to purchase goods and services, tangibility was the only factor that mattered. It was extremely difficult to believe in a paper card that allegedly carried a certain value. Therefore, credit cards failed to gain momentum and were soon forgotten.
Fortunately, the 1990s proved to the societies in the western world that digital transformation and the introduction of modern technology in traditional sectors are worth considering. In the era of jet flights and credit cards, fintech really started shaping itself as a decent sector with lots of new companies affiliating themselves with it.
With the increasingly widespread use of the internet network globally, fintech became even more significant in the early 2000s. Stock exchanges gradually went completely online as the vast majority of all trading operations now take place on the web. Commercial banks followed soon by introducing innovative services, such as web and mobile banking platforms. Today, for many people, it is unimaginable having to leave the house in order to perform a financial operation. Local and international transfers, paying utilities, and even taking loans are all easily possible through mobile banking apps these days.
Many governments, like the one in Sweden and other Nordic countries, are also investing in making the cashless and a more digital financial sector a reality. If we take a look at how various nations operate, this certainly is becoming true. So what actual economic and social benefits do we get from fostering the digital revolution? Will digitalization helps us shape a more equal and potentially a richer society?
The increased access to financial products and services through fintech
Many members of the general public believe, that fintech can only work in rich and well-developed countries, benefiting those who can afford appropriate hardware. The fact that the effective widespread use of fintech requires certain individual and large-scale infrastructures, such as mobile devices and internet access covering large areas. However, the other side of the story shows how fintech services benefit some of the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in underdeveloped and developing nations.
So, how does fintech work at a large scale, and what is its impact on the macroeconomic environment? Let’s take the commercial banking sector as an example. In emerging economies, particularly major countries covering vast territories, the big portion of the population still resides in rural areas. In such nations, there is only so much physical infrastructure to support the provision of goods and services among large populations. Amid the lack of reliable and accessible transport links to urban areas, people residing in the peripheries struggle to reach commercial bank branches or other financial institutions.
With fintech widely used across developing and underdeveloped nations, hundreds of millions of people would gain access to crucial financial services, loans, and other resources. This is crucial in tackling poverty and boosting economic development both at a local and a larger, nation-wide scale. There is still a need for investments in critical infrastructure, particularly in connectivity that would enable the effective use of fintech services across rural communities. Nevertheless, the amount of investments needed to equip locals with much-needed access remains way below what building physical offices, branches, and maintaining them would cost.
A fine example of how fintech has proven to be extremely beneficial for the emerging nation in Kenya. The country of over 51 million people, the African republic has been transforming into digital heaven throughout recent years. Kenya remains to be one of the poorest countries globally, with the GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita being as low as just $4000. Despite the vast area the country covers and a large population, Kenya still managed to implement fintech innovation in its daily lives. As of now, the vast majority of Kenyans pay their utilities and use different financial services exclusively on the internet or through a mobile connection. There is no need for owning a smartphone when paying utilities is also possible through SMS texts from any kind of device.
The widespread use of such services in Kenya has led to the soaring economic growth in rural areas, whilst aiding the country’s economy as a whole. Fintech is used differently and brings in different benefits for every nation, depending on various circumstances and environmental factors. Nevertheless, it undoubtedly is beneficial on a general level.
Fintech has a significant impact on trading
Trading, in general, has become a completely digital field throughout recent years. Forex trading and social trading use fintech instruments to support their work. However, we rarely acknowledge the importance of fintech transfers in trading. The sector that we know today would not be a reality without the vast digital financial network that exists around us today.
The impact of fintech on trading is deep-rooted, significant, and long-lasting. This process was not concluded in a day but has lasted for a long time. Many changes and fintech innovations still need to be implemented in the trading industry, making more room for future expansion. Nevertheless, the benefits and a major impact that fintech has already made on trading is clearly visible now.