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In the next 10 years, fintech will be defined by what people want

If someone asks you to write an article about where fintech is going in the next ten years, you probably shouldn’t do it. I mean, you’d basically be setting yourself up to be wrong – a lot. It’s hard enough to try to predict things two to three years out, let alone see a full decade into the future.

In the next 10 years, fintech will be defined by what people want

Let’s take hardware innovations first. While new hardware is always coming onto the market, what we saw in the past decade cannot possibly be replicated. It’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see another piece of technology that changes the world as quickly and as dramatically as the smartphone, and we’ve already seen a decline among fintech innovations that seem to exist just because there’s a new piece of hardware which will support them. New hardware innovations will continue to play a role, of course, but it would be reasonable to expect it will be a much smaller role than in the past ten years.

The world of developer tools is still growing, and I expect to see that side of things continue at roughly the same pace in the next ten years. Coders love to code new tools and languages for themselves, and the sheer volume of people who are embracing fintech as a lucrative career path should sustain continued growth in this area. I also expect to see more developer tools aimed specifically at fintech, as the value of those tools continues to rise in the marketplace.

If there are fewer new hardware innovations driving change, and a similar rate of growth among developer tools, that leaves customers themselves to play a greater role in shaping the industry. Many stakeholders within the financial industry, from the banks themselves through to the end users who are saving/borrowing/investing, are still in the early days of understanding and accepting fintech solutions. Many bankers still view the industry as a distraction that they don’t need to engage with (they’re wrong), and many individuals aren’t comfortable with or don’t trust tech solutions enough to allow them to touch their finances.

Over the next ten years, though, that’s going to change. More bankers and more individuals are going to embrace fintech as it becomes more commonplace, appears less risky, and is easier to understand. As that happens, consumers themselves will be able to play a bigger role in shaping the industry by sharing their opinions, highlighting problems that need to be solved, and giving feedback on the solutions that currently exist.

This increased customer-engagement is exactly what fintech desperately needs right now. An industry that has been largely shaped so far by what it can do is going to be spending a lot more time thinking about what it should do. The bleeding edge of fintech will no longer just be about who can build on the latest hardware or use the latest tools – it will be about successfully engaging with human beings all over the world to improve their financial lives, offering opportunities that don’t exist yet, and solving problems that have persisted for far too long.

For the past ten years, fintech has been defined by what’s possible. In the next ten years, it will be defined by what people want. And that’s a good thing for all of us.