Findexable: COVID-19 hasn’t slowed down fintech investment
The release of Findexable’s 2021 Global Fintech Rankings report seems to confirm that the COVID-19 pandemic has had no deleterious effect on sector growth.
Compiled annually, Findexable’s report provides one of the most comprehensive surveys of global fintech. From regions to countries and individual cities, it compiles and analyses key performance data and gives insight into the leaders and up-and-comers.
In total, the company explored 264 cities across 83 countries and incorporated data from various media outlets, SEO databases, and over 60 fintech associations. CEO Simon Hardie spoke enthusiastically of the findings:
“The level of investment and activity in the fintech sector is hugely gratifying for those of us who have been championing the industry. It is especially good to see that the pandemic didn’t slow down, and may have in fact accelerated, the adoption of fintech in parts of the world that have previously been underserved.”
The leading hubs
Notably, there has been no movement in the 2021 list’s top three fintech hubs. While most others made incremental gains, it was Tel Aviv that made the most significant leap from 20th to 5th. Meanwhile, in a surprising shift, Singapore slipped from 4th to 10th:
- San Francisco Bay (same as 2020)
- London (same as 2020)
- New York (same as 2020)
- São Paulo (+1)
- Tel Aviv Area (+15)
- Berlin (+3)
- Boston (+1)
- Los Angeles (-2)
- Hong Kong (+2)
- Singapore (-6)
The leading countries
Findexable’s top 10 countries for fintech reflect the generally incremental shift observed among the hubs:
- US (same as 2020)
- UK (same as 2020)
- Israel (+9)
- Singapore (-1)
- Switzerland (same as 2020)
- Australia (+2)
- Sweden (same as 2020)
- The Netherlands (-2)
- Germany (+3)
- Lithuania (-6)
UK fintech has continued to ramp up at an accelerated pace: three new cities entered Findexable’s index for the first time, bringing the country’s total up to 13. The country remains fairly secure as Europe’s fintech leader, particularly as strong competitors like Lithuania fell in the rankings. However, Germany’s ascendance to the top 10 could indicate the beginning of a new challenger.
In North America, the US remains practically unchallenged by Canada. Meanwhile, both Australia and China have gained on Singapore, with the former seeming to be a likely APAC leader by 2022 if current trends continue.
As can be observed from the top countries and hubs, Israel’s fintech output has been proportionally one of the most impressive exhibited. It has claimed the top spot for MEA, followed by the UAE and Kenya - both of which also made significant gains. Finally, Brazil and Uruguay lead Latin America and the Caribbean.
Fintech: The global revolution
Reviewing the statistics compiled in Findexable’s report lends credence to Hardie’s words: fintech is greater than ever before and not even one of the world’s most disruptive events (COVID-19) has been able to prevent its growth.
Elliott Limb, Chief Customer Officer of Mambu, which sponsored the report, called every fintech part of a “global revolution” that is transforming financial services for the better.
“They are changing the way we save, spend, borrow, and invest money. Whether competing, cooperating or supporting traditional financial institutions, they are reshaping digital services for a real-time, on-demand world.
“Whether it is an aspiring unicorn, a neobank seeking new markets, a provider that wants to go digital, or a financial institution that wants to act like a fintech, you need a roadmap [...] a guide to where to begin and where to go. This is why a ranking system is important.
BIS and MAS publish blueprint for cross-border payment idea
The Bank for International Settlements and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has published a proposed blueprint for the multilateral linking of domestic real-time payment systems across borders.
The blueprint, titled Project Nexus, outlines how countries can fully integrate their retail payment systems onto a single cross-border network, allowing customers to make cross-border transfers instantly and securely via their mobile phones or internet devices.
The Nexus blueprint was developed through consultation with multiple central banks and financial institutions across the globe. It builds on the bilateral linkage between Singapore's PayNow and Thailand's PromptPay, launched in April 2021, and benefits from the experience of the National Payments Corporation of India's (NPCI) development and operation of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system.
The Nexus blueprint comprises two main elements:
- Nexus Gateways, to be developed and implemented by the operators of participating countries' national payment systems, will serve to coordinate compliance, foreign exchange conversion, message translation and the sequencing of payments among all participants. These gateways will be predicated on a common set of technical standards, functionalities and operational guidelines set out within the proposal.
- An overarching Nexus Scheme that sets out the governance framework and rulebook for participating retail payment systems, banks and payment service providers to coordinate and effect cross-border payments through the network.
“To achieve significant cost-reduction in cross-border payment transfers, enhancements must be made on two fronts: direct connectivity between domestic faster payment systems, and frictionless foreign exchange on shared common wholesale settlement infrastructures. The BIS Innovation Hub Singapore Centre is working on both. The Nexus project maps out a much-needed set of standards to achieve seamless cross-border payment systems connectivity.” said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS.
How do cross-border payments work?
Cross-border payments are currency transactions between people or businesses that are in different countries. The sender will choose a front-end provider, such as a bank or a money transfer operator (e.g. Transferwise), to initiate the payment. The receiver then receives the payment via the medium specified by the sender. Traditionally, cross-border payments flow via the correspondent banking network (CBN) which most front-end providers use to settle the payment. But, in recent years, new back-end networks emerged to optimise cross-border payments and enable interoperability between payment methods and provide senders with more possibilities to reach the receiver.
The increased international mobility of goods, services, capital, and people have contributed to the growing economic importance of cross-border payments. The value of cross-border payments is estimated to increase from almost $150 trillion in 2017 to over $250 trillion by 2027, equating to a rise of over $100 trillion in just 10 years.