When I sat down to write my article on innovation in fintech and payments last year, I was a little disappointed about what I saw in Europe, as you can probably tell from the article. I decided to look somewhere else instead and found more innovation on the African continent.
This year, though, things are looking a bit different: pressure to innovate keeps rising in Europe. When it comes to payments in Europe, there might be light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s start with one theme that manifested itself throughout the last couple of years.
Digital platforms are the go-to spots for e-commerce – and terminals for countless payment transactions. Online marketplaces like Amazon or Alibaba present themselves as the popular top dogs in this area. But they only compose a fraction of the platform economy.
Today’s online marketplace platforms offer goods, services, jobs, and business partners. And then, we’ve said nothing about comparison portals like Check24. They browse external platforms to find the best offers, acting as “meta marketplaces” of a kind.
But whatever platform you use: The point will come when you will have to pay for what you have obtained. At this point, Payment Service Providers and Payment Gateways make their appearance. It’s their job to detect fraud and validate the purchasing agreement. And ultimately, to debit your account and move your money – in the virtual as well as the physical sphere.
In my 2018 review, I have hinted at how PSD2 and GDPR would ring in a new, more dynamic era of fintech, filled with opportunities. And then again it didn’t. The PSD2 deadline has been expanded, as banks and other financial companies have kicked the adaption of their systems and services down the road, so to say.
In the meantime, BigTech companies like Google, Alibaba or Apple cement their market position with their own smart payment solutions.
Another fintech year is over. Even a fintech decade. A lot of things happened last year and in good tradition, I’d like to look back at 2019. In this article, I’ll recap the highlights of the crypto scene from my point of view. It has been a year full of victories and drawbacks, as usual.
The beginning of the crypto year was quite turbulent.
The 51 Percent Attack
Bitcoin, father of the crypto industry and most prominent and popular cryptocurrency, started the year below the 4.000 USD mark, achieved a yearly high in July at approx. 12.000 USD and then fell back to 7.000 USD at the end of the year.
In the meantime, the start of the new year wasn’t much better for Ethereum Classic. The blockchain experienced a 51% attack. The attack began on January 5th, went on for three days, finally ending on January 8th with estimated losses of 1.1 million USD. The attack could be stopped due to the collaboration of blockchain analytics companies and exchanges, who halted the ETC transactions and provided data to the analytics companies. Even though the possibility of a 51% attack on a proof-of-work blockchain was known it was scary to see it becoming reality on a blockchain that ranks in the top 20 crypto assets list.
On September 14th 2019, the final step of the European Payment Service Directive 2 has been taken. PSD2 is now a mandatory regulation all financial service providers must adhere to. Open Banking culture is finally established in Europe.
Your bed stand is the best place to store your savings.
Strange statement from a company with a background in the financial industry.
But hear us out. It’s very true. In a way. Provided of course that the bed stand in question contains a specific tool often found there. This tool will become the new focal point of saving and storing money: The smartphone.
Since project Libra was revealed by Facebook two weeks ago, it sparked controversial discussions around its potential as an international currency, its presumed economic impact, and its technical implementation. In this article I will try to shed some light on the technical and the economic sides of the project, to see whether Libra has the required momentum to become Facebook ́s next-generation revenue booster and a meaningful (and powerful) currency for the masses.
We shop at online marketplaces. We rent movies at online video libraries. We manage our finances in online banking apps – all from the comfort of our homes. On the downside, criminals don’t have to stand up from their couch either, to rob your bank or steal your private data. Internet crime and assaults on cybersecurity occur in increasing numbers. Banking institutions are a popular target, as are their little, nonconformist peers: Fintech companies.
When pondering on digital transformation in the financial industry, one quote by Bill Gates comes to mind. Admit it, you know which one. It just fits perfectly, as we see tech giants leave their mark with emoney payment solutions like Google Pay and Apple Pay. Bill Gates said:
We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore
He said this in 1994. The millennial generation probably did not listen to his words back then – living the kid life requires full attention. But today, millennials resonate very much with Gates’ words. According to research by Global Banking Insights, at least one-third of all US millennials believe that they will soon live a life without banks.
And they might have a point. The number of customers inclined to use online banking services has doubled over the last 10 years. As a result, the demand for digital finance applications increases — and quite a few banks struggle to deliver on that front. The internet is not their native environment. Fintech companies try to capitalize on this, using their technological expertise to disrupt the tried and true ways of banking.