Workplace, technology, flexibility: the impact of Covid-19 on Fintech companies
Written by Copernico
Despite the considerable growth in recent years and its highly innovative nature, the fintech sector has not been immune to Covid-19.
This emergency has highlighted how fintech-enabled solutions can support businesses. At the same time, business leaders have been granted access to tools that give them a deeper understanding of their company’s financial health, so they can plan ahead with confidence and adapt to fast-moving trading conditions. Many firms are also exploring how technology can help them to manage workforce more effectively, as lockdowns and supply chain disruption squeeze cash flow.
We know seismic events like Covid-19 can hasten the adoption of emerging technologies and drive innovation. As the broader economy shifts from “respond” to “recover”, Covid-19 may create new opportunities for some fintech companies: as social distancing has taken hold worldwide, there has been tremendous growth in the use of digital financial services and e-commerce. On the other hand, in this time of uncertainty, many fintech companies are under pressure on multiple points of view. Access to funding was already becoming difficult, especially for some early-stage ventures, as many investors focused on established fintechs with clear business models. In addition, recent interest rate cuts and the economic slowdown have radically changed many industry assumptions.
From our privileged observatory at Copernico Isola for S32 which can be considered the “Milanese home” of the Fintech District, we asked Antonio La Mura, Country Manager Italy at FINOM, and Moacir Giansante, Country Manager Italy at Salaryfits, to give us their vision on the impact of Covid-19 on the fintech industry and how the scenario will evolve, also in relation to smart working, technology and flexibility. Antonio la Mura first took a step back and analysed 2020 on a wider screen: “The biggest impact we have noticed is in the rapid adoption by consumers and operators of new digital tools for their work and their daily lives. Even the most reluctant people were forced to learn how to make a video call, to send a video conference invitation to a digital agenda, to install new software that allowed remote document sharing, without relying exclusively on meetings in person. In this scenario of forced “digitalization” of the habits of each of us, customers have found in the fintech startups and in the other innovative companies products and services ready to meet their new needs dictated by the context. And this has brought them an unpredicted growth.” This opinion is confirmed by Moacir Giansante, who adds: “In a very strict sense, I suppose the impact of Covid-19 on fintech was positive due to a strong “pull of demand” for more virtualized solutions and applications. This has favored an accelerated “technological push” effect, mainly in Italy, while the lockdown has had a negative impact on the workplace and especially on employment contracts not ready for smart working”.
Having made these premises, la Mura continues: “Technology will no longer be considered an “innovation”, but will become part of the daily routine of any operator who intends to carry out their business efficiently and effectively. This is true for all sectors. If the pandemic has changed the priorities related to the choice and use of a physical office, it has proportionally led to an increase in the use of the tools that make smart working possible. What remains unpredictable is how the attitude and preference of workers will change, who today find themselves having some opportunities they are not used to, such as the choice of where to live (think of the phenomenon of “south-working”), such as to commit the times that were previously used in traveling, and still to commit that extra time, which today is spent at home and instead was previously dedicated to other activities outside the home.” According to Giansante the greatest trend we will see it will be the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a radical change in the way we interact with each other: “We will increasingly observe a pervasive AI, which changes our lifestyle and our mindset. The human relationship will shift to a less casual and deeper interaction.” Given this, Salaryfits is strongly investing in having a fully digital and virtualized user experience, while Finom will continue to invest in high performance technologies and tools allowing the possibility to activate their banking service easily from any device, without the need of physically go to a bank branch, and with real-time remote human interactions for support such as the live chat. From an organizational point of view, remote working is already a standard in Finom: “Each person on FINOM’s team has the possibility to decide where to establish their main office” – says Antonio la Mura – “This has allowed us to have a multicultural team able to quickly support our expansion at European level“.
Fonte: Milan Fintech Summit