The Intersekt Conference brings together fintechs, regulators, and industry experts to delve into the evolving landscape. Over the course of the two-day event, several key themes emerged, illuminating the affect of fintechs on businesses, the future of emerging markets, regulatory innovation and the importance of collaboration.
Fintech: A catalyst for business growth
One of the most resounding messages throughout the conference was the pivotal role that fintechs play in fuelling business growth. Fintech, encompassing digital payment methods and innovative financial solutions, was not simply viewed as a cost but as a substantial revenue growth opportunity. As Karl Durrance, Business Lead for Stripe, aptly put it, “Digital payment methods matter in the success of businesses and in driving business growth.”
This sentiment was echoed across multiple sessions, and it underscores the reality that embracing fintech solutions is no longer optional for businesses; it’s imperative. Digital payment methods, driven by a combination of consumer preferences and technological advancements, are reshaping the business landscape, with nearly half of Australian businesses planning to adopt new digital payment methods in the next year alone.
What was particularly striking was the changing perception of digital payments. Historically seen as a cost, digital payment methods are now viewed as a “top-line revenue growth opportunity”, according to Karl. Businesses have begun to realise that these methods enhance customer experience, improve competitiveness, and open up doors to new markets. This shift in mindset has fundamentally transformed the fintech ecosystem, where businesses are not merely participants but active innovators harnessing the power of digital payments.
Sustainability as a driving force
Sustainability has transcended its status as a buzzword to become a tangible force shaping the fintech industry. Throughout the conference, speakers and experts repeatedly highlighted the increasing importance of sustainability in fintech strategies and offerings. This shift reflects a broader societal and environmental consciousness that is permeating the world of finance and technology.
The message was clear: fintech companies can no longer afford to operate in isolation from sustainability considerations. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, resource conservation, and ethical business practices, fintech has a pivotal role to play in aligning financial services with ESG goals. Malia Forner at EY shared how they “found a surge in planet-first consumers who view sustainability as a key consideration in informing their everyday financial decisions, in fact 58%, are willing to pay more for products and services that they believe are sustainable.”
Fintech is no longer just about financial transactions; it’s a driving force for positive change. The fusion of financial technology with sustainability principles signifies a profound shift towards a more responsible and conscious financial ecosystem. Kate Wilson, RFI Global, shared, “we see about 60% of Australians saying ‘yes sustainability is important when I’m making financial decisions’ and if we look at gen Z that goes up to over 70% so this is something that customers really do care about.”
Fintech companies are not merely adapting to sustainability trends; they are actively shaping them, with a keen focus on aligning their operations and innovations with the global imperative of sustainability. In this evolving landscape, fintech is poised to play a pivotal role in promoting responsible financial practices, ethical investments, and a sustainable future for all.
Data privacy and security remain paramount
Data as the central tenant for transformation and growth emerged as a core theme throughout the conference. During a panel session focused on the convergence of data, identity, and payments, Damir Ćuća, Basiq, emphasised the potential for these elements to reshape payment systems and financial services. “I do see is this convergence happening between the three different elements and every single one of them has something unique to offer: identity from a trust perspective, data from a consent management perspective, and payments to actually do something useful.” Trust was identified as a fundamental component of this convergence, with the need to establish trust through identity and privacy safeguards being paramount.
Josh Reed from ID Verse stressed the importance of building trust by ensuring that individuals have control over their data and who accesses it with their permission, saying, “in this ecosystem the first thing is to establish that level of trust…(that the customer is) allowed to have full control of their data and over who then has access to that data with their permissions, so establishing from the identity that level of trust to enable the rest of the ecosystem.”
The conference discussions unveiled the transformative potential of this convergence in improving payment systems and financial services. As Reed explained, the next generation of digital identity solutions could offer the highest level of trust from the outset and maintain that trust throughout interactions within the ecosystem. It is a vision where trust is not just established but continuously reinforced, underlining the industry’s commitment to user-centric, secure, and efficient financial services.
Innovation is necessary for regulations, too
In an industry characterised by rapid innovation and disruption, the need for regulatory innovation was a recurring theme. Traditional regulatory frameworks are often ill-suited to address the complexities of fintech, and the consensus was that regulators must adapt to the evolving landscape. The call was not just for regulatory evolution but for a mindset shift that embraces innovation at its core.
Clare Rhodes, Commercial Director at Identitii, stressed the importance of regulating for innovation rather than merely responding to specific problems, saying, “regulation needs to come about with innovation at heart. Regulators need to regulate for innovation as opposed to regulate for particular problems that they’re trying to solve for.” She urged regulators to collaborate across sectors and avoid operating in silos, highlighting the missed opportunities when initiatives operate independently. Dipesh Shah from the International Financial Services Centers Authority explained how they’ve carved out a separate fintech framework and division, reflecting the need for dedicated, forward-thinking regulatory bodies.
The broader message was that regulatory innovation should be a collaborative effort between the fintech industry and regulators, working hand in hand to foster innovation while mitigating risks. This approach recognises that regulatory sandboxes, where fintechs can test their products in a simplified and unified regulatory environment, provide a beneficial platform for innovation.
Partnerships: Catalyst for innovation
Collaboration and partnerships emerged as key drivers of innovation and customer-centric solutions during the conference. Platforms such as Stripe and Xero were highlighted as facilitators of access to new customers for fintechs. Partnerships should ultimately benefit the customer first, the partner second, and the platform last.
Oriana Tasari from Stripe and Danielle Smith from Xero both emphasised their platforms’ open approaches, allowing anyone with the technical capacity to build applications for their platforms. They highlighted that partnerships are not only about providing additional services but also about enhancing the overall customer experience.
Furthermore, fintechs were encouraged to consider their unique value propositions when seeking partnerships. With an ever-growing array of fintech solutions, differentiation is key. As Danielle Smith put it, “The twelveth generic invoice payment app won’t appeal to customers as whatever the new thing is.”
The Intersekt Conference provided a rich tapestry of insights into the multifaceted world of fintech. The themes and ideas that emerged underscore the transformative potential of fintech in driving business growth, the opportunities and challenges in emerging markets, the convergence of data, identity, and payments, the imperative of regulatory innovation, and the power of collaboration and partnerships in fostering innovation and customer-centric solutions.
The fintech landscape is evolving at breakneck speed, and industry stakeholders are navigating this dynamic terrain with a shared commitment to shaping its future. Fintech is no longer a niche; it’s the driving force behind fundamental changes in how we do business, manage finances, and secure our digital identities. The key takeaways from the conference demonstrate that fintech is not just an industry; it’s a movement towards a more innovative, inclusive, and secure financial future.
Identitii helps financial businesses to securely collect and share information, bridging the gap between the data you have and the data you want. Learn more about how Identitii can assist you here.