This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Over the past two decades, digital technology has triggered a massive transformation in consumer services and empowering us all.
Instead of newspapers, we use websites and social networks to stay informed. Instead of buying hard copies (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.), we use screens and streaming subscriptions to consume entertainment.
And when we need to get somewhere, we can open an app that connects us with someone nearby who will drive us there for a fee, rather than flag a taxi or rent a vehicle.
Disruptive technologies, of the likes of Facebook, Uber and Netflix, are in the process of completely transforming our lives as consumers.
Where is the Uber for financial services?
Yet, there is no Uber or Netflix for financial services.
Traditional business models – and the large financial organizations at the centre of them – still dominate markets for banking, payments, credit, investments and insurance.
But all of this is about to change. A new era of financial technology – "fintech" – is targeting these traditional business models and the banks, investment companies, and insurance distribution networks upon which they are built.
Business leaders in all sectors need to start paying closer attention to fintech innovations because these changes are likely have an impact on how you run your business – and they will most certainly have an impact on how you run your life.
Credit and capital for businesses
One of the biggest pain points of small and medium-sized business is securing credit and capital – and fintech companies are focused on fixing this.
One approach is to change the business model of lending. Crowdfunding solutions do this by creating a community of individuals with capital to lend or invest and matching them with businesses that need it. Kickstarter was an early crowdfunding concept that has been used to raise funds for everything from product innovation to creative arts productions. A whole raft of new start-ups are applying the crowdfunding business model to other areas of fundraising, lending and investing.
Another approach is to focus on niche markets that are not well served by the current banking system. One example, a Toronto-based start-up called FundThrough, buys invoiced receivables from companies that don't have an existing credit facility, providing them the cash to use in 24-48 hours rather than waiting 30-60 days for the receivables.
Payments and mobile wallets
Payments are critical to virtually every business and fintech companies have been driving innovation in payments for some time. Paypal was an early payment innovator, originally developed to remove some of the friction associated with online e-commerce transactions.
The latest innovation in payments is the digital wallet, a software app that resides on your mobile device and enables you to make payments with your mobile device in retail stores and online.
Apple Pay became the biggest thing in mobile payments when it launched in the United States in late 2014 and will transform how we pay and get paid in many business settings. It has been reported that Apple Pay will launch in Canada later this year.
Personal wealth management
If you do any financial planning or have investments earmarked for your retirement, chances are you will encounter an automated investment management solution in the not too distant future.
A new generation of automated financial planning and portfolio management tools and services are emerging as a complement to (or in some cases a replacement for) the traditional human adviser. Investors are drawn to the typically lower fees charged by these services, as well as their self-serve features and mobile accessibility.
Is your business ready for the fintech disruption?
If we look at how digital technology has transformed other industries, we can see some similarities. Digital technology helps to make markets more directly accessible to service providers, reducing the need for intermediaries. And new competitors, often technology companies, emerge as dominant players in new markets.
Fintech's influence stands to change the face of business permanently, so take advantage of the innovations and ensure its part your business' technology strategy.
Rick Hyde is the founder and CEO of Ticoon Technology, a leader implementing digital strategies and solutions for North America's leading financial services firms. Visit ticoon.com for more information and follow Rick on Twitter @RickHydeTicoon.