Few organisations will view the final weeks of 2020 as a bittersweet moment. In addition to the staggering human toll inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, entire industries saw longstanding business models upended, forcing companies to completely rethink their relationships with employees, vendors, and customers.
The financial services industry was no exception, and 2020 saw fintech becoming more important than ever as firms rushed to embrace digital transformation in response to the ongoing crisis. Many of these trends appear poised to continue well into 2021 and beyond.
Fintech is short for “financial technology”, but the term itself is applied quite broadly throughout the financial services industry. It can be used to refer to a new generation of non-traditional start-up companies focused on building digital tools that allow people to manage their finances in new ways that disrupt established industry practices.
The term is also sometimes used to describe the technology itself, however, especially since established financial organisations are investing heavily in innovative applications and services of their own.
Fintech trends for 2021
Although 2020 is sure to be remembered as a year of unprecedented disruption, 2021 might well come to be known as a year of remarkable adaptation and transformation. Now that organisations have developed innovative digital strategies to navigate a more volatile economic landscape, they must now take up the challenge of putting those plans into practice.
Fintech developers need to keep an eye on these trends as they build new applications and services in order to provide the functionality and performance demanded by the financial industry. Many established firms will be taking a long look at their infrastructure and technology solutions to assess whether or not their current systems are up to the challenge of digital transformation.
If their existing platforms fall short, they will need to either seek out new fintech products with more robust feature sets or explore options for integrating new capabilities into their legacy software.
1. Customer-centric applications
The proliferation of fintech solutions has brought customers to the forefront of every financial organisation’s thoughts. Where the financial industry once designed processes and applications to suit their own needs, today they must focus on delivering a high-quality customer experience if they want to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace.
The process often begins with reducing friction wherever possible to help end-users get the products and services they need faster. With customers increasingly interacting with the financial industry across multiple channels, fintech developers must build solutions that strengthen those connections and expand their potential.
Eliminating manual processes, cutting down on external software dependencies, and automating routine tasks will continue to be a major point of emphasis for fintech applications. Customers no longer have the patience to repeatedly fill out lengthy forms or go through the frustrating process of downloading, printing, signing, and scanning documents.
By building document viewing, file conversion, and data capture capabilities into their applications, fintech developers can provide firms with a unified digital solution that addresses multiple needs and streamlines their customer experience.
2. Digital-first collaboration
According to a recent IDG study on the enduring business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 40% of employees are expected to be working remotely on a semi-permanent basis as of January 2021.
That means financial organisations will continue to need digital tools in place to provide secure access to files and facilitate collaboration. Physical documents must first be converted into a variety of digital formats with high levels of accuracy and then made available to remote users without compromising data integrity or creating confusion over version history.
Without a dedicated solution on hand for viewing, editing, and managing documents, users are forced to resort to a variety of ad hoc workarounds and third-party software solutions that can quickly compromise data security and increase the likelihood of errors.
By integrating those features into their fintech applications, developers can help firms keep all of their documents and files safely within a secure infrastructure while still making them available through easy-to-use web-based API tools.
3. Big data management
Financial organisations continue to collect huge amounts of data in the course of their business. Some of this data is unstructured and must be processed using powerful analytics tools to identify important trends and potential risks that can help firms make better strategic decisions. But they also gather a great deal of structured data as well, typically from structured forms like loan applications, tax documents, and bank statements.
Managing all of this information more efficiently will be an important goal for 2021 because having good data insights is essential for identifying opportunities, optimising products and services, and automating essential services.
Fintech developers can help improve data processing by building applications capable of extracting information quickly and accurately. Financial data algorithms are quite good at identifying different types of data and sorting it into the proper place for analysis, but they’re often slowed down by documents that are damaged or difficult to read.
Thanks to software integrations that provide robust image cleanup, document alignment, and form recognition tools, fintech applications can ensure that firms are starting with the cleanest possible source data when extracting information for processing.
4. Pandemic proofing
Although there are several promising COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, challenges with supply and distribution will keep most companies operating under the same social distancing and remote workplace guidelines they put in place in 2020 for much of the year.
Even if restrictions are lifted earlier than expected, the risk-averse financial industry will continue to think about how to avoid similar disruptions by implementing paperless processes and electronic data capture options.
Just as retailers and manufacturers are rethinking their supply chain infrastructure, financial services companies must reassess their fintech applications in light of recent challenges.
Developers can help the financial industry better “pandemic proof” their processes by integrating better document viewing, file conversion, and data capture tools into their software solutions.
Not only can they automate traditionally time-consuming (and error-prone) manual data entry tasks, but they can also build in additional functionality to auto-generate data for new contracts and allow people to sign documents digitally to eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings.
5. Banking partnerships
Banks and other traditional financial institutions are increasingly partnering with fintech start-ups to reach new customers and engage with existing clients over new channels. As Deloitte noted in a recent study, the pandemic has removed many of the obstacles to digital transformation in the financial industry and forced many established firms to pour tremendous resources into their tools and infrastructure.
But as banks engage with innovative startups, they will need to find ways to integrate operations and data quickly to remain competitive and roll out new services successfully.
That integration process will be easier if they have flexible software solutions in place that can navigate multiple file types, perform cleanup and conversion, and extract essential data quickly and accurately.
Whether they’re building that functionality into entirely new applications or integrating features into existing legacy systems, fintech developers will play a key role in helping financial organisations accelerate their merger and partnership timetables so they can begin reaping the benefits more quickly.
Solving your fintech challenges with Accusoft
Accusoft’s collection of RESTful APIs and SDKs provide fintech developers with the tools they need to build comprehensive content processing, conversion, and automation solutions into software applications.
Whether you’re using PrizmDoc Suite to view, edit, and convert documents directly inside their financial applications, capturing valuable financial data from various form types with FormSuite for Structured Forms, or embedding powerful image cleanup, OCR, and annotation tools into your application with ImageGear, our family of software integrations allow you to add the functionality your fintech solutions need to meet the challenges of 2021 and beyond.