Today’s fintech companies are bringing new and diverse products to market at rapid speed and shifting power from the hands of banks into the hands of consumers.
But our financial future won’t be defined by fintech leaders competing with the traditional players in banking and insurance. The future of finance belongs to any business that will fuse products and services that deliver added value to customers.
Consider high-engagement ecosystems where consumers are already learning, shopping, or managing their financial lives. There’s a massive opportunity to improve the financial health of households and achieve product adoption at scale by embedding products directly within the brands and platforms consumers already know and trust. For non-financial tech companies, adopting portable financial solutions can lead to new revenue streams, increased customer engagement, and improved platform retention.
As Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Angela Strange summarizes, “In the not-too-distant future…every company, even those that have nothing to do with financial services, will have the opportunity to benefit from fintech for the first time.”
The following are four sectors, and the leading platforms within, that can profoundly impact how consumers access financial products.
Amazon has already indicated an interest in expanding into financial services with its warranty offerings on products for sale on its site, its Amazon rewards card, and its partnership to offer small business insurance for sellers on its platform with Next. It’s easy to see why: With hundreds of millions of users, Amazon’s captive customer base is ideal for bundling financial products directly within its ecosystem.
What’s exciting about the prospect of e-commerce giants like Amazon adopting embedded finance is the potential to use consumer shopping history and data to design and recommend new products and streamline approvals for historically time-consuming applications like mortgages and life insurance. If affordable financial products like these become available through Amazon’s platform, it could have a tremendous impact on the financial health of millions of American households.
TikTok recently partnered with Shopify to bring in-app shopping to its user base. Since then, the app has created buying frenzies across all kinds of products and inspired more than four billion views of videos with the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. TikTok’s move to social commerce capitalizes on the fact that more than half of all Gen Zs and Millennials have made a purchase based on a recommendation from a social media influencer or content creator. By bringing social commerce to its user base, TikTok unlocked the opportunity to bundle other financial products like payments with its existing offerings.
There is also an appetite for financial advice on the app: the hashtag #FinTok has more than 340 million views. A 2021 survey showed that almost half of Gen Z and Millennial respondents used social media for investment advice in the prior month, compared to just a fraction of respondents who looked to traditional financial advisors for investment advice.
The concept of embedded finance in social media is exciting because social commerce can be used as a springboard to bring wealth-building financial products to an entirely new segment of consumers.
There has been speculation about navigation apps stepping into the insurtech space for a long time. Waze began heading in that direction by partnering with Allstate to offer roadside assistance in 2017.
Like the other platforms on this list, Waze has a massive audience with a purported 140 million users as of 2020 and meaningful data on those users’ driving habits. Waze also has excellent brand loyalty and strong user engagement, with users interacting with the app by reporting traffic stops, road closures, and slowdowns.
Alphabet owns both Waze and Google Maps, meaning it dominates the navigation app category. This presents an opportunity to leverage its other businesses and wealth of consumer data to identify and market portable financial offerings for its users. As usage-based insurance products are introduced to the market and gain popularity, Waze has an opportunity to integrate them into its product suite to offer auto insurance at a highly competitive cost for consumers.
Zillow is making strategic moves. The company owns Trulia, StreetEasy, and RealEstate.com, among others. Historically, most of Zillow’s revenue has come from advertising on these platforms. In 2019 the company brought in $2.7 billion in revenue and reported 173 million unique users to its sites monthly.
Continuing the momentum, the company launched Zillow Home Loans in 2019 and expanded into agent and lender services through Zillow Closing Services. In the future, I expect to see Zillow leverage its substantial capital, user base, and platforms to offer other products like homeowners insurance, banking, and payments to become even more of a giant in the real estate space.
‘AS-A-SERVICE’ INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE FUTURE OF BANKING
It’s been said there are two primary ways to make money in business: one is to bundle, the other is to unbundle. Strategic leaders in fintech are already adopting solutions to bundle and offer new products, monetize the transactions that come from their platforms, and increase user retention. In the near-term, I expect to see companies outside the financial services sector follow suit.
Whether it’s social media, e-commerce, or real estate, tech companies have the opportunity to bundle services to enter into or expand their market share in finance, and they would be wise to do so. Over the last several years, embedded finance has quickly gained popularity as consumers indicated they are excited to transact with the brands they already love. A recent Forbes article predicted that embedded finance will generate $230 billion in revenue by 2025, a 10x increase from $22.5 billion in 2020.
The best use of technology is to improve our quality of life, which is what drove me to financial technology as an entrepreneur. Embedded finance does just that by addressing both a substantial market need to leverage technology to improve our financial system and providing a social benefit by improving the overall financial health of households.
Melbourne is the CEO and Co-founder of Bestow, the leading life insurance technology company.