By Vanessa Malone
The global fintech industry is expected to reach $305 billion by 2025. ¹ This growth is reportedly due to the large investments being made into technology-based solutions by banks and firms.
Moreover, fintech is rapidly reshaping how we bank, invest, and perform financial transactions. Technology is gradually moving control away from institutions and into the hands of users, literally. With just a few taps on your smartphone, fintech can empower you to access and manage your finances in unique ways.
We believe that fintech will continue to make large strides in 2021. Here are the fintech trends Horizon has its eyes on and aims to fuel.
Liquidity in equity crowdfunding
Equity crowdfunding is a capital raising vehicle whereby startups and small businesses leverage the internet to sell securities to customers and fans. While legislation paved a path for these securities to be solicited and sold legally, fintech worked to propel the industry forward with its technology-enabled investment portals, seamless compliance solutions, and high-tech, high-touch investor experiences.
Billions have been invested in crowdfunded offerings globally, yet no dedicated exchange has existed to support secondary trading for these securities. Horizon plans to fulfill this unmet need in the crowdfunding industry with another fintech solution, a joint venture with MERJ to launch Upstream, the first global exchange and trading app for crowdfunded securities to trade in real-time on a user-friendly smartphone app. Upstream upholds the consumer-centric ethos of fintech with a transparent orderbook, biometric trades, and accessible smartphone trading app.
The growth of Regtech
Regtech refers to the technology that financial service firms adopt to meet compliance demands including data management, anti-money laundering “AML,” and Know Your Customer “KYC” requirements.
Throughout 2020, major cracks have been revealed in the current KYC/AML compliance landscape for financial institutions. In May 2020, a leaked bulletin prepared by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that bad actors are likely using hedge funds and private equity firms to launder money and avoid anti-money laundering roadblocks. In September 2020, the “FinCEN Files,” a culmination of a 16-month long investigation led by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed that major global banks have continued to process payments identified as being at high risk of money laundering, and other crimes.
That’s just to name a few, which is why we aren’t surprised that 2021 is already putting compliance enforcement in the spotlight. Recently, the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 “AMLA” was passed into law. It is said to be the most comprehensive set of reforms since the PATRIOT Act of 2001. AMLA aims to set federal standards for disclosure of beneficial ownership, expand information sharing, and significantly increase potential fines for violations.
In 2021, firms in the financial services industry can not afford to fall behind on their compliance strategies which further cements the importance of regtech. We believe regtech solutions like Horizon’s onboarding app with integrated KYC and AML compliance checks are critical to maintain increasing compliance demands and protect against bad actors in a streamlined manner.
Blockchain in traditional finance
In 2021, we believe blockchain will continue to be a large player in fintech and further integrate into traditional finance.
The demand for greater transparency, accessibility, and control leaves an open window for blockchain technology to be leveraged in traditional finance, and our flagship use case for this will be Upstream.
Upstream is a digital equities market that enforces MERJ market rules using blockchain technology. The marketplace has a public orderbook with best bids and offers transparently displayed in real-time on the Ethereum public blockchain. This orderbook is driven by the investor community rather than market makers. Each transaction has a digital fingerprint on Ethereum to further protect investors.
While Upstream embraces blockchain, it is not what we lead with. We find that most people don’t care about how new technologies work under the hood, they care about what the technology will do for them. The majority of Amazon shoppers don’t care about how the code and algorithms work to compare prices and products on Amazon, they only care that they can shop more efficiently. We think that traders will flock to Upstream because its transparency, security, and simplicity will enable them to trade more effectively.
Fintech has reached some incredible milestones in 2020 and we believe it will only become more disruptive in 2021. Horizon aims to fuel the industry with its compliance and trading technology.
To learn more about Horizon’s vision to build and power global exchanges, please visit https://www.horizonfintex.com/.