FinTech companies have reshaped customer expectations and set a new bar in user experience, cost competitiveness and innovation. Despite significant investments, traditional banks have been hard pressed to match these innovators head-on. However, there is a distinct third group which has now set its eyes on the financial services sector – BigTech.
As the name implies, BigTech refers to some of the largest technology firms in the world. These tech giants are jumping head-first into the tug-of-war between traditional banking institutions and their new FinTech challengers. They combine the strengths of both worlds – financial muscle on one side and tech experience augmented with first-hand experience of dealing with a large retail customer base on the other.
It should come as no surprise, then, that some of the fastest growing players in the FinTech sectors are ventures floated by existing BigTech companies. In this article, we look at some of the most promising and successful FinTech ventures launched by the biggest technology firms.
Alipay is the world's largest mobile payment platform, dethroning PayPal in 2013. With 460,000 businesses using the platform, it reached a transaction volume of $3 trillion last year.
A good chunk of the company's business comes from other Alibaba group companies like retailers Tmall and Taobao. As these platforms grow, Alipay continues to grow with them and has been expanding to other countries as well.
Apple Inc. is the most valuable company in the world. So, when it launches a new product or service, everyone takes notice. Apple Pay, which is a mobile payment and digital wallet service, is no different.
When it launched in 2014, it immediately became the largest mobile payment system in the US. Today, Apple Pay is available in dozens of countries and it's user base is continuously increasing thanks to the ubiquity of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs etc.
Named after Tencent's widely used WeChat app, WeBank has the distinction of being China's first private bank and also China's first online-only bank. Although five other private banking licenses were issued, WeBank has the first mover advantage while also being backed by one of China's largest tech companies – Tencent Holdings.
The new bank aims to target the mostly underserved SME sector which struggles to secure funding from the large public sector banks. WeBank will also make full use of the immense expertise of its parent company in handling big data and large retail volumes.
Amazon is the “A” in the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) of BigTech and they are going after the payment processing industry with as much ferocity as that term implies. Although it sounds very similar to Apple Pay, what Amazon Pay does is quite different.
While Apple Pay focuses on contact-less payment at retail stores using an Apple Device, Amazon Pay is geared more towards customers paying for online shopping.
ZhongAn has the distinction of being China's first fully digital insurance company. The company is backed by tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba, with Ping An Insurance of China providing the insurance expertise. The company sells all its products online and even handles claims based on an online platform.
Launched in 2003, the company has been a runaway success, writing as many as 630 million insurance policies for 150 million customers in its first year of operations. Add to this the cost-savings of a fully digital model, and you have yourself a winner.
If you are not already on the world's biggest social media platform, Facebook might have the perfect excuse to get you there. As can be seen from the video, Facebook Payments offers a very easy and quick way to make online payment to people in your social network without having to exchange your bank details.
Although this has been available in the US for a while now, it's finally been launched in Europe. The best part is that Facebook is using bank-level authentication and safety features to protect against fraudulent transactions.
Rakuten is a Japanese and e-commerce and internet giant and is popularly known as the “Amazon of Japan”. They are leveraging their 100 million-plus customer base to tap into the financial services sector with products and services such as Rakuten Card, Rakuten Bank, Rakuten Pay, Rakuten Life Insurance and so on.
After gaining a firm grip on the local Japanese market, the company is looking to expand elsewhere in East Asia and beyond.
It would be unfair to Microsoft not to include them in this list, given their numerous contributions to FinTech and their clear commitment towards finding the next big “winner”. Not only are they a leader in financial cyber-security, they are invested into various FinTech startups.
Microsoft holds a sizeable FinTech investment portfolio which includes everything from P2P lending to a digital accountant, enough to warrant a Top 10 list of its own.
India seems to always skip a generation or two with respect to technology adoption. The country essentially skipped universal adoption of traditional bank accounts and jumped straight into mobile based payments and beyond.
This is the market that Flipkart (India's largest online retailer) intends to tap with PhonePe. What's interesting is that India's core Payment Infrastructure has been completely revamped to work on fully mobile platforms and this is spurring some remarkable FinTech innovation.
Although PayPal parted ways with eBay in 2015, it has not lost its crown as the largest payment processing company in the US.
With 218 million active users, 17 million merchants, 6.1 billion transactions in 2016 and a global presence across 200 other countries, it continues to be one of the most inspiring success stories in FinTech in general and payment processing in particular.