Fintech. A portmanteau of Financial Technology. Now widely used to mean all manner of things it could talk about a hot new financial services startup or the magical image capture of cheques by a mobile device. I wonder if a cheque book encoded with a QR code or NFC tags would be Fintech? More widely and sensibly it seems to mean companies of a certain size and world view that want to improve or disrupt financial services.
It is also regularly bastardised and pluralised as Fintechs to refer to more than one of the certain type of company subjectively deemed as Fintech even though it means financial technology. Fintechs = Financial Technologies surely.
So when is an technological change in financial services not fintech? When it is done by a bank?
What happens if a previous fintech company is bought by a bank? Does it cease to be fintech?
Does the fintech label disppear after a certain time? Are 20 year old PayPal getting too old now to be considered Fintech? If a bank buys a load of Fintech companies does it by osmosis become a Fintech?
Should Fintech be FinTech or fintech?
Underneath the parent brand there are other brands. Insurtech and Regtech to cover specific areas i.e. Insurance and Regulatory technology advancements. We have the amazing brand of Roboadvisor which seems to mean investment advice done by a computer program or for added PR bonus an algorithm or AI instead of a highly paid human. We have the current Queen of buzz the Blockchain. An all encompassing brand covering all manner of ledgers and distributed databases and registers and crypto currency and smart contracts and hyperbole.
They have all come to being out of a subset of existing mega trends and brands such as social, mobile, big data and cloud. These brands has elevated and conflated a series of technological shifts and allowed them to be codified and deified and allow for specialists and snake oil salesman to arise.
The brands are a banner to wrap around all manner of things, or to be stretched across the roof of a bandwagon.
This is both good and bad. The bad is that the brands become so broad they lose all meaning as more things are shoehorned in. The good means that these much needed changes to the staid and needlessly complex world of banking get more focus and investment. Let’s try and focus on the good and not just needless PR for PR sake of the bad.