Fintech has never moved faster. Software has eaten finance - and is coming back for a second helping. You’d be hard pushed to find a financial business that doesn’t use technology to enhance or automate their services and processes. From banking and investments, through payments and lending, to insurance, regulation and cryptocurrencies, innovative new companies in the financial industries are appearing so quickly it’s hard to keep track.
In this series of articles we discuss fintech trends we’re excited about at Loomery, from crypto ownership and distributed finance to different models of customer-centricity, and innovations ahead in 2022.
In each article we share what these trends mean for those working in technology roles in the financial sector, whether that’s a start-up, scale-up or established business.
We kick off today with a discussion of the developer-centric, platform-driven fintech model and how collaboration is the new disruption.
Fintech Focus #1: Developers deserve as much care as customers
In 2021, the fintech focus was the customer experience. For 2022, it’s the developer experience.
The world of finance is necessarily interconnected. Money must move. The success of most fintechs relies on partnership and compatibility. This means it’s critical to make services open, easy to integrate with, and easy to get started on. The big Fintech platforms realised this early. Online payments processor Stripe and customer engagements platform Twilio are both $50-100bn companies whose incredible growth was predicated on the developer experience.
The secret sauce at Stripe is in the outlook: empowering other developers and builders. — Patrick Collison, Co-founder and CEO of Stripe
Stripe and Twilio invested heavily in well-documented APIs, software developer kits (SDKs), out-of-the-box integration, and developer support. Clearly, with great collaboration comes great scale. In his book Ask Your Developer: How to Harness the Power of Software Developers and Win in the 21st Century, Twilio founder Jeff Lawson writes passionately about how important creating a rich developer ecosystem was in their success. In early Twilio you could trigger an SMS straight from their homepage.
We’re increasingly seeing companies lean in to this trend. The Loomery leadership have all spent time creating innovative digital banking products for NatWest, ING, Barclays and others and will tell you it’s hard work! Whilst well meaning, the consumer-friendly Open Banking legislation did little to solve the technical complexity involved in integrating across dozens of banks and financial institutions. A new generation of Fintech backend platforms strive to solve the pain involved in creating innovative banking products. Plaid is a comprehensive open banking platform keeping things simple “with a single API”. The first button you see on open banking service provider Truelayer’s website is a bright yellow START BUILDING call-to-action.
Blend provides complete customer journeys out-the-box for mortgages, banking and lending replete with guides, webinars and explainers in their comprehensive resource library. Payments processor Galileo (who, to be completely honest, we’d never even heard of before writing this article) even powers fintech poster-boys Monzo and Wise.
At the lower level of eCommerce payment, one-click checkout providers Fast and Bolt offer easy and quick integration. Recharge does the same for subscriptions and recurring payments. With all of these companies you can, of course, start tinkering and playing for free. By making it easy for digital innovators to get going, they build trust and make the value they provide ineluctable. These are companies to watch in 2022.
The way you get that in every developer’s tool belt is not by a hard sale. It’s by essentially showing “here’s what you could do if you had this tool in your tool belt” and enabling that. That means great documentation, easy sign-up, published transparent pricing. All those things that cause a developer to say, “I trust this. I know what I’m getting into.” — Jeff Lawson, founder of Twilio
Where these platform companies lead, product companies - companies with business-to-consumer propositions - should follow. Of the global incumbent banks, Citibank sets the standard with an impressive Developer Hub and 'API playground'. Deutsche Bank have an API program with a dev-friendly API explorer. In the UK, Barclays leads the way. Their developer portal is one of the most advanced in the industry with 12 well-maintained APIs and a comprehensive knowledge base. They even run an experimental programme for "developers and partners to work with us on new ideas, co-create... and test out the basis for future products." By partnering with the developer community they're accelerating their own innovation.
Regardless of your proposition or product, creating an exceptional developer experience is simply good practice for any large team. Ultimately, nailing the onboarding, documentation, integration approach and collaborative practices help you move quickly, experiment, and innovate faster.
Nailing the developer experience is as important as nailing the customer experience: having well documented APIs, getting started guides, SDKs, and code samples are key. Building a sandbox environment and making it easy to get started too. Ask yourself: how is my company geared towards making developers’ lives easier? How do I make it easy to integrate and partner? Collaboration is the new disruption.