What is embedded finance? In a nutshell, it’s when a FinTech company puts its solutions in a third party’s app. For example, when you order a pizza and pay one way, out of multiple available options. Or when you are looking for a loan and your favorite financial app is recommending one of the top FinTech lending operators. The goal of embedded finance solutions is to provide a seamless and practical experience for users and broaden their choices while staying convenient.
Embedded finance solutions as a natural evolution path
FinTech has emerged even before the infamous 2008 financial crisis but it got the wind in the sails right after that. People’s mistrust of main street banks and evolving technology provided more secure and convenient choices. Widespread smartphones, combined with simplified yet powerful UI/UX design, attracted a large variety of demographics to FinTech. They could manage their income, get loans, transfer money, invest. And do a lot more, since financial solutions evolve with each passing year.
The same goes for 2021 and beyond. We now observe what is called “a future of FinTech,” which is going out of the comfort zone of dedicated apps. Companies are now implementing portions of their own code into third-party products. Everybody wins:
- third-party products have some form of payment, loan, or other FinTech-related solution available for users
- customers can often choose between preferred payment solutions or get limited to one option but from their favorite provider (often a market leader)
- customers don’t have to use additional software for processing payments or other forms of FinTech-related activities
- FinTech brands strengthen their market value and expand visibility among users
- products with embedded finance solutions get more users; people become attached to what they know and feel safe with
- business partnerships among companies tend to evolve and become a platform for something bigger over time
Different continents, different paths for embedded finance
Because there is no global and homogeneous market for FinTech products, one pattern doesn’t exist. It makes sense since the whole pitch behind FinTech in the first place was to give people more choices, security, and freedom. And that means options. Embedded finance differs depending on the local market’s needs.
The United States will be pushing for a cashless society even more than before. According to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), person-to-person cashless transactions totaled more than $570 billion in 2018. A year before, cash transaction was at the record low of 30%. Even rural restaurants now prefer credit cards and mobile payments rather than cash.
Europe, on the other hand, is on the next level. With mature or semi-mature markets, the continent is now preparing to tackle partnerships with third-party products and services. Offering cheaper electricity or house insurance is more and more popular among FinTech operators.
Asia is the most developed embedded finance market in the world. Products like WeChat (incredibly popular in China) or AliPay are not only embedding payments but organizing the lives of millions and even billions of people. Their daily existence is so digitized they can literally not leave home and get, buy or fix everything. All from their apps.
How embedded finance impacts FinTech?
On multiple levels. New options mean new opportunities, especially when it comes to brand recognition and diversifying revenue streams. But it also means new challenges. So, what comes next?
- Partnerships have never been more important. If you’re thinking about embedding your FinTech solution, you have to think hard about where you can embed it. There are multiple options and good relations with other brand holders will be crucial.
- Storytelling in data presentation is everything. As we have pointed out in an older article on storytelling through data, if customers were to pick a single advantage of any FinTech product, it would be simplicity. In your product, you have total control over presentation. If you give the code to another company, they can display your message about payments (or any other service) in any way they want. You have to make sure the method is consistent with your brand and explains details to customers in a clear way. To do that, you must secure steady partnerships.
- Increased competition will spike even more innovation. There are thousands of FinTech apps to choose from. Some of them will partner up, which gives them an even more competitive advantage over the market. Likely, that’s the case for at least some giants. Fortunately, you’re not in a lost position. Think about a product or a service that complements your own. How can you both benefit from the partnership? How can your own app be better? What additional features can you add or simplify?
- Growing customer loyalty will create higher and more expensive entry-level for new products. This is probably the greatest challenge of them all. People are, at least to some extent, creatures of habit. They say they want to change but nothing can be further from the truth. Once they find something that works, they stick to it, making it harder for others to enter the market and compete on equal terms. That’s why you need something extra to spice things up.
- Big Data will become an even bigger thing. Personalization is a huge trend among many industries, not in FinTech alone. Mass production is a thing of the past, Industry 4.0 revolutionizes even automotive and production companies. They can produce even single items, specified and tailored to individual needs. The same goes for finance services. The more you know about your customers through KYC solutions, the more valid business decisions will follow.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise, tomorrow it will be your right hand. We have talked about it in our blog post about financial crime. AI helps detect fraud but it can also act as your trusted assistant and coach. How does consumers’ behavior translate into their spending patterns? What incentives do they need if we want to upsell them? These questions can be answered with proper tools and algorithms.
Give me some great embedded finance examples!
Embedded banking is taking FinTech to a new level. Once solid products turn into a more hybrid model, with banking-as-a-service (BaaS) in mind. Let’s see how companies make the best of it.
1. Walmart launches a FinTech startup to help customers and employees alike. The goal for the product will be to save customers money and help them manage daily finances. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. For years, Walmart’s image went around the huge but semi-convenience and cheap store for Americans. In fact, 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store.
This is not a classic “FinTech goes embedded finance” story but it’s important. It’s a good representation of how new ways of easing people’s life can impact the classic business world; retail in this case. And how modern solutions can fight competition. Walmart has been 2nd in many categories for years. They feel Amazon breathe down their neck; its growing role in the American and global economy can’t be overestimated. Creating their FinTech solutions shouldn’t be surprising for the market but rather perceived as a logical choice to serve low-income households.
2. Marqueta is a company that offers open API to create seamless payment experiences. In plain English – they provide the technical possibility to issue and integrate card payments processing.
3. Finix offers a platform through which you can decrease the cost of your marketplace and embed any financial services you need.
4. Bancorp is a provider of various focused solutions. Among them are services for FinTech companies who want to grow their business through embedded payment solutions.
5. Cambr is an organization that helps through full-stack infrastructure. They offer technical ways to integrate, manage and monetize deposits.
Dress for success
Banking technology is not a piece of cake. If you want to make it in FinTech, especially with rapidly growing competition, use advice from an old video game called “Legend of Zelda.” At some point, the game displayed a famous message that read: “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” Which usually meant a new sword. In this case, the item would be a cloth. Partner up with a company that complements your own product and takes over the market.
If you don’t have a product, browse for a solid vendor and learn about what you can expect from cooperation.