When I arrived in Hong Kong slightly over a year ago to build a fintech accelerator, I knew three things.
First, inspire my generation to join or build a fintech company. So the accelerator I founded had an Apollo programme vision. Second, adapt myself to Asia, accepting that financial brands are global but financial behaviours are local. So I aimed for locally anchored sponsors such as Tsinsghua University and Baidu. Third, embrace the fact that China will lead the world in terms of innovation. And therefore started the idea of a fintech silk road, facilitating Chinese company to scale out.
However, I wasn’t prepared to fully appreciate the difference between fintech and techfin. To me it was all about establishing a fintech hub, developing a fintech regulatory framework and measuring fintech investment growth. Yet when I spoke to start-ups in China they kept telling me they didn’t consider themselves fintechs. But instead were techfins. I thought it was splitting hairs and miscommunication but it was more than that. It was misunderstanding.
We often quote Jack Ma for saying, “There are two big opportunities in the future financial industry. One is online banking, where all the financial institutions go online; the other is internet finance, which is purely led by outsiders.”
We have read reports on China’s leadership in fintech. Ant Financial valued at over $30 billion after a series B round. Tencent facilitating over eight billion red envelopes to be shared in a day, up seven billion compared to the previous year. We know these facts but do we understand them?
Let’s forget the “fin” and focus on the “tech”. What does best available technology do? Breaking down what the “BAT” does we essentially have:
Source: Janos Barberis from The Asian Banker