Financial technology (a.k.a. fintech) startups want to shake up one of the last areas of the modern economy that still operates with outdated standards and systems. Whether e-payment solutions, point-of-sale software, or personal finance apps, lots of products from many innovative technologies have emerged over the past few years.
Here are three fintech disrupters with business models that exemplify what’s happening in the industry. Take some pointers from their experiences for your own career—especially if you’re a software engineer, data expert or infosec wizard.
Although many fintech companies deal with the consumer side of the space, the creators of Tipalti decided to go another route, and create a service that reimagines how businesses make payments to suppliers around the world (all while maintaining tax and regulatory compliance). It’s a necessary service, considering the byzantine complexity and security surrounding the different regulations and currencies that govern various countries.
Tipalti has attracted notice for its holistic SaaS system and programming, which adds code that integrates its software into the client’s system. “We automate the entire process of managing supplier payments, eliminating 80 percent of the workload related to managing this process,” said Roby Baruch, vice president of product management.
Baruch also noted that CRM, e-commerce, order management, productivity and ERP/accounting have all largely been addressed by fintech startups, but that the relatively new space of payments automation remains wide open. For software engineers conversant in Agile, that means significant prospects in SaaS performance, QA, UX and Security.
Data & Design
“Fundbox is really about this idea of reimagining how we do things and not necessarily tying it to the ways of the past,” said Jordan MacAvoy, vice president of marketing at the company. “It’s about being able to shape what the future of small business finance looks like.”
The company provides low cost loans to qualifying small businesses and freelancers. Its technological heart is a proprietary, data-driven SMB risk engine, which analyzes numerous data points to assess a potential customer’s fiscal health and likelihood of repayment.
“We specialize in data science and we have machine learning experts,” MacAvoy said. “Our initial team was a group of technologists who had this specific expertise and skill set around data analysis and could take large data sets and apply machine learning to come to conclusions about underwriting a business.”
The company’s data professionals, along with its UX designers and engineers, attempted to use good design and analytics to boil down the loan process—which usually takes multiple bank visits and hours of paperwork—to roughly 50 seconds’ worth of online clicking.
Todd Zino, CTO and founder of Wallaby, a company that helps consumers get the most out of their credit cards by optimizing usage for rewards and more, said security is of the utmost importance. Because its software works in conjunction with large banking institutions, even a relatively small-scale breach could wreck the company’s reputation and business model.
When interviewing job candidates, Zino wants to know that they’ve been through extreme security experiences and really understand the catastrophic consequences of a breach. “We want people who have worked with the backroom or security and have networking experience,” he said. “Every layer of what we do requires a deep understanding of security principals.”
“Money and finance touch everything,” Zino said. “Anytime you’re working in financial technology, you’re always working with a real product. You’re much more aware of what you’re there for and it’s very clear what you’re contributing to the product base and how it’s supposed to thrive and grow.”
FinTech has a lot of momentum behind it, MacAvoy added: “The financial system that we’re all used to is being reinvented. It’s incredibly exciting to be engaged in the process of what that system is going to look like. We’re a solution, not part of the problem.”