At Money 20/20 in Amsterdam this week, business-facing fintechs like Airwallex, Payoneer, and ClearBank were all the rage, while consumer apps such as Revolut were nowhere to be found.
The area that drew the most hype from Money 20/20 attendees was artificial intelligence, with fintech and banking leaders looking to harness the technology’s potential while assessing the risks.
Several fintech executives CNBC interviewed spoke of how they’re not interested in launching products tailored to crypto as the demand from their customers isn’t there.
At last year’s Money 20/20 — Europe’s marquee event for the financial technology industry — investors and industry insiders were abuzz with talk about embedded finance, open banking, and banking-as-a-service.
As nebulous as these terms may be, they reflected a very real push from tech startups, including the biggest names in the business such as Stripe and Starling Bank, to allow businesses of all stripes to develop their own financial services, or integrate other firms’ products into their platforms.
This year, with fintechs and their mainly venture capital and private-equity backers reeling from a dire slump in technology valuations and softer consumer spending, the narrative around what’s “hot” in fintech hasn’t changed an awful lot.
Investors still love companies offering services to enterprises rather than consumers. In some cases, they’ve been willing to write checks for firms at valuations unchanged from their last funding round. But there are a few key differences — not least the thing of curiosity that is generative artificial intelligence.
So what’s hot in fintech right now? And what’s not? CNBC spoke to some of the top industry insiders at Money 20/20 in Amsterdam. Here’s what they had to say.
Looking around Money 20/20 this week, it was easy to see a clear trend going on. Business-facing or business-to-business companies like Airwallex, Payoneer, and ClearBank, dominated the show floor, while consumer apps such as Revolut, Starling, and N26 were nowhere to be found.
“I think many fintechs have pivoted to enterprise sales having found consumer hard to make sufficient unit economics — plus it’s pretty expensive to get a stand and attend M2020 so you need to be selling to other attendees to justify the outlay,” Richard Davies, CEO of U.K. startup lender Allica Bank, told CNBC.
“B2B is definitely in good shape — both SME and enterprise SaaS [software-as-a-service] — providing you can demonstrate your products and services, have proven customer demand, and good unit economics. Embedded finance certainly is part of this and has a long way to run as it is in its infancy in most cases,” Davies said.
B2B fintechs are startups that develop digital financial products tailored to businesses. SaaS is software that tech firms sell to their customers as a subscription. Embedded finance refers to the idea of third-party financial services like bank accounts, brokerage accounts and insurance policies being integrated into other businesses’ platforms.
Niklas Guske, who runs operations at Taktile — a fintech start-up focused on streamlining underwriting decisions for enterprise clients — describes the sector as being in the middle of a renaissance for B2B payments and financing.
“There is a huge opportunity to take lessons from B2C fintechs to uplevel the B2B user experience and deliver far better solutions for customers,” said Guske. “This is particularly true in SME finance, which is traditionally underserved because it has historically been difficult to accurately assess the performance of younger or smaller companies.”
One area fintech companies are getting excited by is an improvement to online checkout tools. Payments technology company Stripe, for instance, says a newer version of its checkout surfaces has helped customers increase revenue by 10.5%.
“That is kind of incredible,” David Singleton, chief technology officer of Stripe, told CNBC. “There are not a lot of things you can do in a business that increase your revenue by 10%.”