Podcast February 15, 2022

Cross-Industry Collaboration — the Next Iteration of Fintech

It’s been a wild couple of years for the international Fintech industry.

Everything has gone digital, opening up vast new opportunities for consumers — as well as triggering an avalanche of fraud.

In this episode, we welcome Don Ginsel, CEO and Board Member at Holland Fintech, an association that connects people and organizations in the financial value chain, enabling consumers and businesses to profit from innovation and development

He offers a feast of insights into how change brings challenges as well as opportunities.

Join us as we discuss:

  • The constantly evolving worldwide ecosystem of digital finance
  • Can regulators keep up with the pace of Fintech innovation?
  • Fintech’s role in fighting cybercrime and keeping customers safe
  • The importance of financial education and inclusivity

The constantly-evolving digital finance ecosystem

Finance is just one of many aspects of life that’s becoming almost too complicated for the average person to figure out and understand, let alone gain control of.

Don’s team devote their days to helping people make sense of exactly those things that feel too complicated.

It all hinges on digital transformation. It’s a spectrum upon which different people and businesses are sporadically positioned.

Reality, as the Holland Fintech team views it, can be summarized as follows:

  • Financial value chains are no longer limited to within a single country’s borders
  • There’s a worldwide movement toward digital finance
  • NFTs, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrencies are here to stay
  • It’s worth taking a step back to understand the broader picture of all the nodes at which value is being introduced into the global digital finance ecosystem

Can regulators keep up with the pace of Fintech innovation?

One of Don’s critical observations: as the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the course of human history and people have shifted toward digital-first lifestyles and business operations, the volume of fraudulent incidents has risen in proportion.

Being physically distant from each other during our day-to-day life has made us all more vulnerable to instructions of wiring money to the wrong people or investing in schemes.

Payment service gateways are a great example when trying to understand the relationship between financial regulators and Fintech companies. At the time that the number of payment services exploded in The Netherlands, there was a genuine need for it from the market: more people were choosing to shop and bank digitally.

Payment services were seen as an Internet service, not so much as financial service providers, which informed a series of decisions by regulators (to not put these platforms under the microscope until much later). Only now do we see the heavy regulation of payment service providers.

Regulators need to step in

It’s all about risk. If something appears to pose a threat to the national financial system, it’s likely going to be shut down or at the very least it will be extremely difficult to scale.

If something seems harmless, in the case of defining payment service gateways as an Internet service instead of a financial service, it doesn’t get too much attention from the regulator.

This is why it’s so critical for regulators to be actively involved in the marketplace and to know what technologies and capabilities are emerging from Fintechs. It’s impossible to accurately determine whether or not something is a risk, without getting an up-close and personal view of it.

“I would encourage any regulator anywhere to engage with the markets as much as they can because everyone’s learning at the moment. The more we share, the faster we understand where things are heading.” — Don Ginsel

Fintech’s role in fighting cybercrime and keeping customers safe

Although Don believes that Fintechs can play a role in fighting cybercrime, he recognizes that there’s not much incentive to do so right now.

Fintechs don’t get tax breaks or any other financial incentive for combating crimes as they identify them. There’s hardly any attention coming from governments in this regard.

Is it realistic and reasonable to expect that a company will behave like the police in these situations?

“I think what financial services companies should be focusing on much more is actually, how do we guard our customers and keep them safe?” — Don Ginsel

Bridging the data gaps

Part of tackling cybercrime is having the correct information to work with. Where, previously, inspectors couldn’t readily gain access to highly organized data sets and transaction reports, today they can.

It has to be a team effort between the public and private sector, governments, and businesses, to share the right information at the right time, and to combine intelligence efforts to diagnose what’s actually happening.

The act of then pursuing wrong-doers should remain with the police and law enforcement.

The importance of financial education and inclusivity

It’s a double-edged sword for Fintechs. They need to balance innovation and continually improve customer experiences with the seemingly mundane element of cyber security.

Guarding the customer requires more attention, cautions Don.

Customers, both people, and businesses are mostly blind to the risks they’re exposed to when they conduct online business in any way.

Although it sounds humanitarian, and it partly is, educating customers and constantly reaching out to guard them against threats is a self-serving activity too.

You can’t easily retain customers who have a horrible experience and suffer as victims of fraud while using your Fintech product. It’s even harder when there are so many emerging competitors in the space.

“This is actually where I think we are forced as an industry to really speak the language of the user in the end, whether that’s a business or a consumer or the government.” — Don Ginsel

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Until next time!  

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