FinTech 2018 – A Recap

Saragossa

FinTech 2018 – A Recap

2019 is almost upon us, and the term ‘fintech’ has continued to enjoy a steady and consistent rise in popularity over the past year.

Being such an all-encompassing term, a simple google search for Fintech can lead one down something of a rabbit-hole, with stories about everything from 6-month old cryptocurrency start-ups to 200 year old investment banks all coming under the broad Fintech umbrella.

With so much information still circulating even as the year reaches its end, let’s take a look at what have been some of the most significant developments this year, as well as attempting to speculate as to what we can expect in 2019.

Cloud Technology

Although Cloud itself is far from new, its usage has progressed drastically over the past year or so. Having started out as just another form of storage, cloud has now evolved to provide businesses with so much more – and even the oldest firms have realised that they need to start taking notice. I for one have noticed a considerable increase in the number of roles requiring at least some basic knowledge of Cloud, and I expect this number only to increase next year.

There are obvious benefits to Cloud that can apply to any industry. Running virtual servers drastically reduces IT operational costs, as well as cutting server setup time to as little as a few minutes, down from the usual few months for hard servers. In addition, the flexibility and scalability that a cloud platform provides makes it easy for businesses to adapt to changes of situation in ways that companies solely dependent on physical infrastructure simply cannot.

The applications of cloud computing to Fintech specifically are numerous, and many are still being discovered. As mentioned in another of Saragossa’s recent blogs, many older and more established firms are now finding themselves in something of an arms race, attempting to create high-functionality yet easy-to-use digital and app-based solutions for their clients. This comes as a response to the recent surge of new, smaller-scale start-ups who have been disrupting the industry as of late. Cloud technology helps these older companies catch up with their younger competition, by enabling them to build and release new software solutions and updates much faster than ever before.

Cloud is also invaluable in the process of data management. Its flexibility gives more power to users, enabling them to store, manage and access huge quantities of data with little effort. The benefit of this for Fintech companies is huge, as it allows them to develop innovative and intelligent solutions to a variety of problems in their industry, including – and perhaps most importantly – fraud detection.

As with any new technology, the adoption of Cloud in Fintech has been a slow process, and it may take decades for it to completely filter through. But the potential advantages are already extremely clear, and I predict we shall see a continued increase in Fintech’s use of Cloud for years to come.

DevOps/Agile

Following on from Cloud, more and more Fintech institutions are recognising the importance of new working methodologies such as Agile and DevOps. These, like Cloud, allow firms to push out new solutions, updates and service improvements at a considerably faster rate than before. Although there are many differences between them, both of these cross-functional approaches break down barriers and encourage developers to work collaboratively with other teams, ultimately leading to shorter delivery times and faster responses to technical and business issues.

For Fintech companies looking to stay ahead of their competitors in such an active market, Agile and DevOps have become important talking points. Many large companies are still married to the more traditional waterfall approach to development, and therefore adopting these new practices is more of a cultural challenge than a technical one. Finding candidates with more than a few years’ experience in either of these practices can also be difficult. However, the benefits of searching for such candidates are huge, and companies who do not at least discuss Agile and DevOps as some sort of possibility in the future risk missing out on an opportunity to make serious improvements to their development framework.

Blockchain

Moving into something quite different, 2019 will, I think, see a rise in fintech’s use of blockchain technology. While most people’s first exposure to blockchain came with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, the technology’s usefulness extends far beyond simple commerce. People are now starting to realise the potential applications of the technology across a wide-range of fields, including healthcare, legal documentation, and government.

Probably the most appealing aspect of Bitcoin for FinTech companies is its increased security. Blockchain’s supposed close-to-impenetrability makes it a potential godsend for risk managers and security professionals within FinTech, as a way to ensure that transactions are completely secure and tamper-proof.

However, blockchain still has yet to really find its place in the Fintech arena on a large scale. Implementing blockchain requires a sizeable overhaul of technological processes, and there appears to be a general scepticism as to whether this is in fact a worthwhile undertaking. Furthermore, the decentralisation that lies at the heart of blockchain technology makes many Fintech professionals (understandably) quite nervous. Private and semi-private blockchains that allow for more control do exist, and some firms are looking into this as an option – however many believe this somewhat goes against the main reasoning behind the technology in the first place.

The general consensus among larger and older firms seems to be that blockchain is too new, too anarchic and too disruptive to merit serious consideration. However, while it may be some time before we see well-established global asset management firms switching to blockchain (indeed, you could be forgiven for saying this will never happen) there has been a definite increase in the number of new start-ups looking to take advantage of the technology – and I expect to see many more pop up in the coming months. Getting a hold of experienced blockchain-savvy developers and support staff will, I suspect, be a major obstacle for many of these companies moving forwards, however I am sure that eventually, as the technology becomes more and more mainstream, the talent will slowly start to appear.

In short, it’s been one of the most exciting years in recent memory for Fintech professionals. We’ve seen companies embark on enormous digital transformations and witnessed the rise of technologies and ideas that look set to leave a substantial and very permanent mark on the Fintech landscape. I look forward to continuing to work with Fintech firms of all sizes as they continue to rise to these new challenges.

Saragossa are a talent provider specialising in the Financial Technology, Financial Operations and Data Science sectors. Our role is to match clients with high calibre candidates. Our work encompasses filling temporary contracts along with building permanent teams and resourcing projects. To find out more, please contact enquiries@saragossa.co.uk or call 020 7871 3666.

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