Whether it’s mobile payments, P2P transactions, or some other financial innovation, it’s obvious Fintech is growing fast!  Knowing what’s happening, getting information, and networking has never been so important in this young industry.  Below, you’ll find your guide to Fintech in 2017.

Emerging Markets

Africa and India are the real untapped markets Fintech is rapidly expanding in.  Financial inclusion is the word being used to figure out how to get to these folks into the global monetary system.  As Andreas Antonopoulos notes in his latest book, The Internet of Money:

“There are 2 billion people who have no bank accounts at all.  There are another 4 billion people who have very limited access to banking.”

For this very reason, Africa and India have seen a dramatic inflow of Fintech investment.  Blockchain technology, made popular by the birth of Bitcoin, will be front and center in this initiative due to their P2P model.  More and more businesses have found reasons they need the Blockchain.     

P2P will help bypass traditional methods of banking and trust measures.  This can produce regulatory challenges, of which Fintech is no stranger to.  It’s actually birthed an industry called Regtech, which is being touted as “The New Fintech.”  

We can only wonder what happens when currency flows into villages with no running water or electricity.  Cell phone technology spread quickly to these parts of the world. That could be a glimpse into the future of financial technology.  Andreas goes on to say of Bitcoin, which I believe is relevant to this industry:

“What do you think happens when you suddenly are able to turn a simple text-messaging phone in the middle of a rural area in Nigeria, connected to a solar panel, into a bank terminal? Into an international loan-origination system? A stock market? An IPO engine?”

It’s no accident global payment processing systems are in demand.  

Challenges

Now that this type of technology is available and the untapped markets are identified, the real challenge is how to get the product out there.  Though high level connections may go a long way in spreading the word, many companies are focusing on technology rather than distribution, as noted in an article from Disrupt Africa.    

India has seen its fair share of regulation challenges in it’s Fintech space.  That being said, it’s  government has taken an interest in making their relationship symbiotic.    

The next generation of big time entrepreneurs will likely be those who can make relationships with large entities, like governments.  I was first introduced to this thought when reading Steve Case’s “The Third Wave.”  It makes total sense when considering the regulatory challenge.  While there will be another Zuckerberg in the future, we will unlike see the likes of him in Fintech.  It’s difficult to make those relationships from your dorm room.

Get Informed and Network  

The suits (accountants and lawyers) have CPE’s (Continuing Professional Education) where they can get informed on latest trends and law changes, while rubbing elbows with their peers.  The Fintech version of this will be city wide conferences, courses, and online communities.  Below is a list I’ve compiled of some of the best one’s I can find, no matter what corner of the world you are in.  

Conferences (with a blurb from their website):

“Through an action-packed day of keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops and lively debates you will be exposed to the full fintech spectrum”

The Paris Fintech Forum 2017, organized by Altéir with the support of 60+ international partners, aims to bring together 2,000 participants over 2 days in the heart of Paris on 25 and 26 January 2017, to listen to 160 CEO’s from banks, insurance, telco, regulators and of course Fintech from all continents”

“Hear from those forging new trails in payments, blockchain, lending, robo-advisors, insurance tech, real estate and more. In addition to attracting hundreds of FinTech entrepreneurs, this conference also plays host to the investors and service providers that help accelerate startups. The audience can also look forward to keynotes, panels and demo updates from some of the top FinTech startups in the world”

It’s about bringing people together. 1000 people will gather at PMQ in Hong Kong, with the world’s best speakers assembled to cover fintech design, innovation & entrepreneurship, and see the top 24 startups globally pitch for prizes and cash.

FinCon – the world’s largest Financial Content Expo – helping hundreds reach millions with a positive money message.

I attended Fincon this past September and found there was some Fintech representation worth a look.

If you are a freelancer trying to find some write off’s or a Fintech big wig looking to make some contacts, start booking your flights!

For those who are looking to enter the industry, MIT’s Fintech Certification Course may be just what you need. As it is aimed for financial professionals and entrepreneurs, previous knowledge is required for this online program.

The program is 12 weeks and typically requires about 10-15 hours per week.  Currently, it’s being offered at $2,600, which seems like a good deal from such a reputable name.  Though the content is superb, the people you sit next to may be the most valuable asset you gain.

Good luck in 2017!

 

Eric Estevez is a freelance writer, blogger, finance coach, and tax accountant. He has been training in the grappling art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since 2010, currently holding the rank of Purple Belt. JiuJitsuFinance.com combines his passion and life's work where he teaches you how to do Financial Jiu-Jitsu! The blog focuses on financial literacy, as well as current financial issues for all ages.

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