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Let’s talk about the F-Word in Fintech

Written by Sashreka Pillay

SashrekaPillay"

Nope. It’s not our four letter peak-traffic companion. (Although in some circles it does seem like as much of a swear word.)

To get there, let’s try something different. Imagine I’m standing in front of a white board signalling “one word, seven letters”. Then, in your mind’s eye see me enact the funniest moment of slapstick comedy you could ever think of; reminding you of your guiltiest pleasure YouTube “fail”video. You then scream out in triumph: “The word is Failure”!

Yes, that exercise was touch and go for me too. No, I haven’t been invited to many games of charades but now you know what I’m talking about. So it still worked. Yay.

Why even talk about failure in fintech? Because the industry is growing up. Use-cases are being tested and so is a firms’ stamina. We may be too polite to admit it but in most fintech spheres competition is growing. And as with any industry on its way to maturity, it can mean more than a few casualties.

This prioritises finding the quickest way to a sale, which may not be as straight forward as we’d like. Some fintech companies who struggle to navigate the sales of their solutions to large corporate institutions are now opening their doors to direct consumer sales. This can help prove their business model and how it can assist institutions in meeting their strategic objectives. It sounds great but if they are too successful it may reignite the fear that fintech may be eating a banks’ lunch. (Complete aside: I really dislike the person who came up with the term. It’s simply awful. ) Caught between a rock and a hard place (a much better phrase) is how I view most fintech firms.

The honest truth is that the more opportunities you have to tell your story and the more chances you have to demonstrate the value of your solution, the greater your chance of being noticed in the arena among your peers – or competitors. The more chance you have of being noticed, the more likely you are to keep your fintech in a state that most accountants like to call “a going concern”.

Looking at the industry this way doesn’t idealise the founders who try and fail. It breaks down the glamour we’ve come to associate with being a technology founder. It makes them real. So let’s not fail shame them. Or anyone really. Fintech is becoming a bit of a jungle and I have a feeling that we are in the most interesting times yet.

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