Welcome to James Ledbetter's FIN by me, James Ledbetter. Author, editor, content strategist. I am the former editor-in-chief of Inc. magazine, and since October 2020 I have been publishing the best newsletter on the fintech revolution. Since FIN launched, we’ve reached millions of readers, through our own posts, but also through appearances on NPR, CNBC, Business Insider, Morning Brew, and many other mainstream media outlets.
So many financial interactions — especially in the West — have been stuck in inefficient ruts for decades or even centuries. How we pay daily expenses; how we get loans and mortgages; how we buy and sell property; how we give money to, or get money from, friends, relatives, employees and employers—all of this is in the process of being overhauled, and the implications need to be teased out.
If you’ve not tapped a loan from SoFi, or refinanced a mortgage with Rocket, it might be hard to grasp the impact of this revolution through mere words, just as the iPhone impact was abstract until you used it, but: everything is faster and oh-so-easy.
In some ways, fintech can be viewed as an outgrowth of the iPhone. A big part of the “tech” in the fintech transformation is artificial intelligence and the global growth of smartphones. Deregulation in many markets is also a contributor. But adding to the fintech urgency is the COVID pandemic, a dramatic accelerant, as it has been in so many fields. According to a survey of large banks, there was a 200% rise in online U.S. bank account registrations in April 2020, and an 85% rise in mobile banking traffic. Depending on region and sector, the pandemic has quickened the pace of fintech adaptation by at least 2 years. This opened a tremendous opportunity for nimble startups, as well as leading fintech giants like Square and PayPal. The size of the fintech market is predicted to triple within the next five years, reaching over $300 billion (still small compared to the overall financial services market, but nonetheless the growth is striking).
Another factor in fintech’s urgency is that it is a truly global force, with major players in multiple regions, which hasn’t always been true in earlier tech booms. Latin America may not have produced its own version of Google, but Mercado Pago is fast approaching a billion financial transactions a year.
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