How fintech can support a holistic view of consumer needs

By Eric Schurr
Eric Schurr, Chief Strategy Officer of Sunrise Banks, examines some of the ways in which the fintech industry can support a holistic view of consumer needs

Some of my favourite moments are spent speaking with fintech founders looking for banking partners to help them bring their dream to life.

I recently met with the founder of a payments-related fintech, and he explained how his offering would help customers achieve financial wellness through payments and loyalty.

I probed on the “why” of his business and the higher purpose of his work. He replied: “We aim to help each of our customers become more affluent, you know: wealthy.”

Financial wealth is no doubt a prerequisite for success in our capitalistic society. But is there a way for fintechs to reach beyond consumer financial needs? 

What if financial technology played a bigger role in promoting overall wellbeing – think sustainable food systems and intentional consumerism –- instead of solely working to improve monetary gain? 

I’m confident fintech can both help consumers succeed financially and provide a roadmap when it comes to making sustainable choices in a materialistic world. But first, we in the financial industry need to stop promoting services using a scarcity mindset. 

Wellbeing involves asking 'how much is enough?'

Traditional economic theory seeks to solve the problem of scarcity, which is when human wants for goods and services exceed the available supply. Modern capitalist societies, however richly endowed, dedicate themselves to the proposition of scarcity. 

So, a central question of economic wellbeing for people comes down to getting more clarity on the question “how much is enough?” 

When it comes to fintech solutions, founders have the power, tools and means to create solutions that help individuals determine whether they have “enough”. But maybe more importantly, they have the power to create social wealth in addition to financial wellness. It’s not an uphill battle. It’s a matter of supporting already emerging conscious consumer values. 

That’s not to say creating monetary wealth for consumers doesn’t matter; in fact, it’s imperative, especially for low-income consumers and those outside of the financial mainstream. But the goal of financial wellness can be complemented with additional measures that deal with holistic wellbeing. 

So how can fintech tap into this new paradigm that looks beyond just satiating traditional materialism? Here are three ways financial technology companies can get the ball rolling. 

1. Create solutions that support intentional consumerism 

Consumer attitudes are trending toward simplicity. As one op-ed writer for the LA Times noted: “Our lifestyle choices have the power to bring about individual and collective change to our mental health and wellbeing. To build generational wealth. And to make a difference in the world future generations will inherit. Living more consciously has allowed me to regain control of my finances as well as my sanity. I have also learned to live more sustainably, which benefits me and the environment.”

Today’s consumer is concerned with a wide range of social issues, from equity at work to a warming climate. Fintech should build solutions that let buyers track whether or not their purchases support these initiatives.

2. Focus on helping consumers live well

One area to explore is nutrition. 'Climatarian' eating is an emerging lifestyle trend focused on eating for the health of planet, with choices based on environmental impact.  

While climatarianism might be in its infancy, it will continue to grow in relevance as younger generations continue to prioritise sustainable solutions. This diet can include eating pasture-raised, buying more local and organic ingredients to reduce carbon emissions from transport, and eating a plant-based diet with crops that are good for soil. 

Embedding fintech into enablement solutions in this sphere is an example of using technology to enable a more holistic approach to wellbeing.  

3. Incorporate long-term projections 

Countless dashboards show past spending patterns and their effects. What’s needed are tools that can project the impact of future spending, so once consumers have set goals, they can see how future choices will impact progress toward their goals.

An opportunity for fintechs

The view of people as mere consumers isn’t satisfactory because it only addresses one facet of the human condition – namely the part that understands a narrow-minded, materialistic view of overall wellbeing.

Fintechs have a responsibility – and an opportunity – to prioritise more than just financial goals. Instead, they should work to incorporate solutions that address holistic wellness and sustainability into their offerings.

In 2023 and beyond, the first priority of fintech should be to help people realise a broader vision of their real needs.

We, as members of the financial sector, can help lead this difficult process of cultural innovation to create a more ethical definition of commercial activity based on low-impact, sustainable use patterns that will yield long-term viability. 

I know we’re up to the challenge.

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