The world is changing. With the millennial and Gen Z generations slowly but surely taking over from their older counterparts, the need for fresher, more innovative systems and solutions becomes more obvious. The amount of unbanked global citizens also plays a major role in the need for better systems that speak to and answer their needs.
Just look at fintechs. They are, by their very nature, the next evolution of the financial ecosystem. Their very existence is born from banks; specifically the challenges these legacy institutions face in the wake of what younger generations and the unbanked want and need. But even as fintechs grow and change the market, they are not yet perfect. They will always need to adapt, which means new trends will emerge. So, with the first quarter of 2022 behind us, let’s take a look at a few of the top predictions to pay attention to.
African tech startups raised $2.4 billion in 2020. In 2021, that figure hit $4.9 billion. Fintechs have had their fair share of these investments (Ozow being one of them, having raised $48 million in our Series B funding round), and that trend looks to carry on into 2022, especially in South Africa.
As fintechs creep into the mainstream, it’s logical that they would attract more, and higher, investments. This, coupled with the fact that South Africa has a large unbanked population, is sure to garner even more attention from investors.
1.7 billion people in the world are underbanked (about 21.5% of the global population), according to the World Bank. 31% of South Africa’s population is unbanked. If fintechs had to put this into a SWOT analysis, this should surely fall under the Opportunities category.
Especially so when you consider smartphone penetration – 83.72% of the global population are smartphone users, with about one third of South Africans being smartphone users. So where legacy financial institutions have failed to reach people, fintechs can swoop in to make a real difference.
By providing financial products and services, like mobile wallets and payment solutions, fintechs invite unbanked citizens to be part of the digital economy. This level of access, which these people previously have not had, in turn positively impacts the national and global economies.
Competition is out. Collaboration is in. Ozow is a massive proponent of this – we recently partnered with fellow South African fintech Zapper to bring both sets of customers more choice when it comes to how they want to pay (you can read more about this partnership in our blog here).
This won’t be the only partnership the fintech world will bear witness to this year. More and more businesses are going to realise that collaboration is the new competition. They’re going to recognise what we did: we have strengths, our competitors have strengths, and we need to leverage off of each other in order to cement ourselves as market leaders.
Automation is the name of the game this year. The talent that fintechs attract, and the minds that create such innovative services, should not be bogged down with tasks that can be more efficiently completed by software robots or digital workers.
Robotic Process Automation has already been successfully incorporated by financial institutions to handle backend processes like customer onboarding and security checks. This means areas that need more human intervention, such as brainstorming, creating new products that better serve customer needs, and customer service can be given the attention they deserve.
Because after all, the biggest trend for fintechs to pay attention to in 2022 and beyond, is that the customer is what is driving innovation – give the people what they want, and you are sure to find gold.