Fintech start-ups are on a mission to re-invent financial management and the way people and companies manage and use their funds. The term is very general, as it covers a broad range of new technologies that have been developed to offer better ways of managing money and other financial assets. The key drivers for these innovations are the need to simplify management, such as in healthcare, where reducing costs is crucial in maintaining competitiveness. In addition, regulations are pushing towards more responsible financial behavior. Both healthcare and other industries are working towards greater disclosure and accountability of financial information. As part of this effort, more financial players, both large and small, are looking towards the technology provided by fintech to improve their business model.
Some fintech startups are focusing on providing more services tailored towards specific sectors, such as travel, hospitality and technology. Others are developing business models to provide international money transfers. However, there are also some companies that are focused on providing a more complete solution, through innovation in business models and financing. These include firms that provide trading platforms, online stock trades, investment and pension services.
In terms of types of start-ups looking for seed funding, the most common are those focused on technological advancements. One example is a company developing mobile payment processing equipment to help reduce the time spent processing payments at retailers. Another is an IT company that is developing artificial intelligence software to assist banks with credit card processing. While there may be a need for additional equipment or staff in these areas, it is likely that existing telecommunications and cable providers will look favorably upon these ventures if they can deliver the same or better service at a lower cost.
Another focus for fintech startups is on developing online lending services. This includes creating websites for online lending institutions or brokers. A fintech offering can focus on high-end investment services, such as payday loans, personal loans, credit cards and auto financing. The lender may also provide other types of online lending services, such as investment, purchase and sell of options, and even estate planning.
As mentioned, many start-ups are looking to create new products. The best fintech startups should therefore be focusing on innovations in areas related to finance. One area that has recently been improved upon is the concept of automated clearinghouses. In this approach, information technology allows for a clearinghouse to handle transactions, from initial contact through settlements. In the past, a customer would have to manually enter and transmit data to the financial services company. Today, though, this information is digitally encoded and easily stored.
As you may have guessed, another focus for many of these startups is on technology related to the environment and safety. For several years, San Francisco’s fog and pollution levels have been an issue. Thanks to the efforts of various tech companies, such as TNO and Ventrillo, a fog-free city has become a reality. While this is an important issue to address, there are many other environmental issues that must be addressed. Creating green jobs and industries related to the environment is one way to reduce carbon emissions. Some startups focusing on this area include GreenIQ, a San Francisco based company that offers software that automates the process of creating and managing a green office space.
Another focus for many new tech startups is on financial technology. A number of financial services companies have been acquired by larger banks or technology companies and in order to remain competitive, these companies have introduced new types of financial technology, such as Mastercard debit cards. While the cost of a Mastercard debit card may be higher than a standard credit card, it offers consumers a new level of flexibility when it comes to paying for purchases. This means that consumers can choose a monthly payment option that suits their budget and will fit their lifestyle.
The final focus for many of these startups is on education and development. There are currently more than three dozen charter schools in New York City alone, and more are opening every day. The goal for many of these startups is to help create a community that will allow these same kids to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. One such start up is the development and certification company called Code Academy. Founded by Y Combinator, a group of six highly successful online entrepreneurs, Code Academy was designed to provide high school students with the training they need to become tomorrow’s web developers.