Given fintech’s surge in 2015, prognostications for next year have gotten pretty bold. We decided to take a different, more muted approach by offering predictions on things we do not expect to see next year. Here is our list:
1) Financial services will avoid an Uber moment: Global financial services firms may have innovation problems, but the emergence of a dominant, death star company like Uber wiping them out isn’t one. We also think that at least some banks and asset managers will start doing a better job of incorporating new technologies into their offerings. Finally, Uber has bolstered its dominating position by imposing its will on regulators and anyone else who has attempted to thwart it. Next year, we anticipate more aggressive counterpunching by established firms seeking to level the regulatory playing field in certain areas.
2) The fintech bubble won’t pop. Valuations—especially in some B-to-C areas—look stretched, but we think great opportunities abound to fuel fintech momentum and capital formation next year. Plus, when compared to valuations seen in other tech sectors, fintech valuations seem less wild. Of the top 20 unicorns listed by CB Insights, there are only two fintech companies, Lufax and Stripe.
3) Insurance tech will not be derailed by a myriad of regulations and complexity. We are bullish on P&C, Life and Auto insurance start-ups and believe that the challenges to disruption are more than offset by the huge opportunities to improve insurance. Big Data, cloud, crowdsourcing, mobile and IoT advancements will continue to be unleashed on a sector that is overdue for fresh products and solutions.
4) Online lending platforms will not defy gravity in 2016. The long-term future remains bright for online and marketplace lending platforms that have built scale or another defensible edge. However, we see gathering headwinds next year for both large and niche participants. Specifically, rates are rising, customer acquisition costs remain high and major new entrants—Goldman Sachs and The Blackstone Group—will be joining the hunt for attractive borrowers.
5) ApplePay will not become the Michael Jordan of mobile payments.Jordan may have been the NBA’s greatest player, but he was a mediocre shortstop. Apple’s digital wallet may fare better than Jordan’s baseball career, but it doesn’t seem to have brought its Jordan-style magic into the payments sector. Part of the challenge is that there are a slew of mobile wallet offerings that have balkanized the market. Apple, PayPal, Google and other mobile wallet providers will continue to fight for market share and build adoption, but we don’t think that 2016 will be the year that any of them emerges above the rest.
6) The biggest B-to-B breakout won’t be found in Silicon Valley or Alley. It’s in Seattle. We think start-ups focused on capital markets, regulation technology and data security will do particularly well next year. But the brightest enterprise star may be Amazon Web Services. As banks ramp-up their own digital offerings to beat back fintech challengers, many firms will turn to AWS solutions for support.
7) Blockchain technologies will transform almost everything in financial services—just not in 2016. The Blockchain sector has great start-ups, ex-Wall Street heavyweights, VCs and consortiums betting big on its potential. All of this talent sets-up well for the future, but we don’t think 2016 is the tipping point year. We also think that non-financial use cases involving voting, music, art and health records could vie with financial applications to be the first big blockchain success.
8) London will not emerge as the generally accepted fintech capital of the world. London appears ascendant when compared one-on-one to any other city. But when you compare London to Silicon Valley and New York, we think that the U.S. will continue to match up very well against any other place in attracting fintech talent and capital.
9) Presidential aspirants won’t refrain from using Wall Street as a whipping post. Wall Street is not to blame for America’s health care, education or immigration challenges. But with politicians of all stripes eager to find a fall guy for America’s complex economic challenges, Wall Street is still the perfect patsy. Ongoing negative rhetoric over the airwaves will continue to fuel a perception issue that helps consumer facing fintech.