Fintech and data are inseparable twins.
The manner in which fintech companies frame their data investments could be the single largest factor in their success or failure.
Data traverses the B2C and B2B landscapes. While some will argue that data is not inherently valuable, all will agree that contextual, timely, accurate, and actionable data is the key differentiator in an information economy. Fintech is in fact the highest expression of this philosophy since fintech “products” are constructs of data and technology.
Thus, data is the leading source of value in financial services in general and fintech specifically.
Given this, fintech companies should be focusing with laser-like precision on all aspects of their data strategy, with a view towards constant refinement and maturity. All fintech organizations need to ensure that their data infrastructure is on a path of constant maturation and that they can automate the “supply chain” of data so that from ingestion to use, the right data points can be put into action and inflect market outcomes.
As with the Roman-god Janus, data has two faces. The face of the Creator- the enabler of new businesses and new scenarios and the face of the Destroyer- with privacy, security, compliance, and regulation offering potential hurdles, even roadblocks. While no one act of positivity can seal a company’s success for life, one mistake can seal its fate permanently. As such, once again, the data frame in fintech is the single most important factor for success or failure.
Cloud-native fintech companies have an automatic leg-up in this regard. They are in effect partnering with the massive and sophisticated infrastructure players- like Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, VMware, and others- to ensure that their data frame is mature and under constant surveillance for efficacy, security, and customer satisfaction. In this sense, they are outsourcing to infrastructure experts while employing the bulk of their energies to business and design innovations. That leg-up can turn into the opposite, however, since they cede control to these players; even the behemoths are imperfect.
The importance of data in fintech begs another important question- Where does the Chief Data Officer stand in relation to the other executives and to the board? Given the primacy of data and the need for a mature data infrastructure, one would assume that the CDO or equivalent is deeply connected to the board. If that is not the case, this gap should be seen as a red flag.
Fintech is a booming area- for very clear reasons. The funding, media interest, and innovation in this space are cresting upwards. Picking winners is important here. To do so, look at their data frame. If you don’t like what you see, run for the hills.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of FinLedger’s editorial department and its owners.
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