Fintech Down, But Not Out


The bloom may be off the fintech rose as investment annual investment in the sector dropped 47.2%, to $24.7 billion, in 2016 compared to 2015, according to research published by KPMG International.

“I’m seeing valuations pulling back a bit,” said Bina Kalola, managing director, global banking and markets financial technology investments at Bank of America Merrill Lynch during a fintech roundtable held at the UK’s New York Consulate.

Despite the dramatic drop, it is far too soon to discuss a possible fintech bubble, added Gareth Jones, co-founder of private investment firm FinTech Collective and roundtable participant. “We haven’t even gotten started yet,” he said. “This may be the second inning.”

The Trump administration’s pro-business philosophy likely will spur further innovation in fintech, predicted fellow speaker Adam Dell, founder and CEO of Clarity Money.

“It’s about to be the ‘Wild West’ in financial services,” he said. “This administration is not going to fund the department-level regulatory groups and direct them to stifle innovation. Despite the head guy, his economic team is comprised of a bunch of Goldman people who are very bright and at their core, I hope, recognize that economic innovation is the engine of growth in our economy.”

Although the roundtable dismissed a prospect of a fintech bubble, the members agreed that there definitely would be more winners and losers.

Not everyone can be an A+ student, noted BoAML’s Kalola.

“There will be people that will not make it,” she said. “It goes back to the startup’s team. [As a potential investor] we have to be able to gel with the company, its vision, and its executive team.”

Kalola stressed the necessity for her firm, and others, to do their homework upfront when it comes to investing in fintech startups. “I know it takes time and is annoying to the startups, which we get, but it is what our clients as of us,” she said.

Clarity Money’s Dell also commented that failed fintech startups could prove beneficial to the markets in the long run.

“If a couple of hundred of thousands of investors, but not consumers, lose money because they over-invested, but we end up with a railroad system or a co-axial network spanning the country or an Internet infrastructure, it would not be a bad thing,” he said. “All three of those innovations resulted in a lot of speculators losing money, but the net result was a huge increase in the infrastructure and capabilities of our economic engine.”

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