Fintech has become globally mainstream, with 64% of consumers adopting some sort of behavior that fuses technology with financial services. As the market becomes more mature, so do the challenges facing fintech institutions. This year has brought new trends in improving security, big innovations in mobile banking, and the widespread adoption of 5G internet.
For developers, fintech is a lucrative job market. “It’s a candidate’s market out there,” writes Silicon Republic. “The big fintech giants are crying out for talent.” Forbes estimated that there were over 1000 fintech companies valued at $867 billion in 2016; that number has only skyrocketed in recent years. Companies in the financial technology sector are well-funded and hungry for talented developers. It’s an exciting space to work in, combining security challenges, innovative services, and refining the user experience through thoughtful design and solid infrastructure. Here are the big trends in fintech developers need to know for 2020.
The early fintech market was dominated by agile start-ups and disruptors in the financial service. However, traditional banks have since caught up, with institutions adding mobile apps, social media-based services, cryptocurrency, and other consumer-centric “mobile-first” features.
“The institutional banks have been around for longer than most consumers have been alive, and overcoming their inertia requires that disruptors offer something genuinely new, unique, and appealing. The way disruptors can differentiate themselves is by offering a superior user experience. Through stellar UX design and customer-centric features, fintechs can turn banking from a chore into a real pleasure,” writes one analyst.
Developers and engineers well-versed in UI/UX will find their skills in demand as banks seek to offer a smooth, streamlined platform for payment processing, partner services, and more. Innovation in fin-tech will look a lot like polished interfaces and user-friendly design.
AI is a lot of noise, less substance
Artificial intelligence, AI, is among the buzziest of trends across industries – and fintech is no different. Analysts see many potential use cases for AI, particularly in financial modeling and machine learning. AI can supplement traditional analytics, but it isn’t the silver bullet that many media outlets believe it to be.
“In many cases, traditional markers such as repayment history, are still better predictors of creditworthiness than social media behavior, particularly in markets where credit histories (and dedicated agencies to monitor them) are well established, writes one McKinsey report.
Developers looking to keep their team ahead of the curve should consider how AI tools can meld advanced analytics with new and distinct data sources to improve their company’s existing business offerings. AI isn’t a revelation in itself; it’s an integration that can optimize and enhance data analytics.
Infrastructure architects will be in demand
Fintech innovations have developed rapidly – perhaps too rapidly for many enterprises who don’t have the underlying infrastructure to support the new technology. Legacy IT, in particular, the core banking system, is ripe for a revamp in order for new, subsequent digital innovations to proceed. Developers should consider how to help banks upgrade their technology to prepare for a “modular, open-API world.”
In the next five to 10 years, industry analysts expect financial institutions will be replacing their core IT systems. What can developers do now to make sure the changeover is relatively painless? Some companies, like smaller banks, are seeking developers to approach updating their core banking system now. Other banks are starting with their non-core functions first. Developers who are versed in IT infrastructure should prepare to be very in-demand over the next decade.
Security will continue to be a priority
Security is always on-trend, and 2020 will be no different. As the fintech industry continues to invest in mobile-first banking, developers need to be well-versed in mobile app security. Build your mobile app while following some of these best security practices and check your app against guidelines from the Open Web Application Security Project (OSAP). In 2019, their checklist included testing against things such as:
- broken authentication
- sensitive data exposure
- XML external entities (XXE)
- broken access control
- security misconfigurations
Other than mobile security, traditional banks will seek to include biometrics and blockchain to improve their customer’s financial data.
5G is coming
In 2020, 5G is expected to enter the market in a bigger way than ever before, transforming data transfer with 10x faster speeds than 4G. “The networks will help power a huge rise in Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data, allowing for a smarter and more connected world,” writes TechRadar.
5G promises to impact the fintech sector’s mobile apps, improve the quality of banking services, and connect millions of devices. “Banking operations will penetrate other markets and extend to new channels including wearables, 5G smartphones, and IoT gadgets,” predicts one industry analyst. Software developers will need to prepare with robust code and backup for high traffic loads. AR and VR will become the norm, rather than the exception, as 5G makes it easy for consumers to use alternate realities everywhere. Fintech won’t be an exception. Developers must start thinking now of thoughtful ways to design the app experience to accommodate high speeds, AR/VR, intuitive design – and the infrastructure and security to support these changes.