What is driving FinTech growth? And why it matters to Japanese financial services firms / フィンテックはなぜ成長しているのか?日本の金融機関への示唆


FinTech is a popular buzzword in the financial industry. In a broad sense, FinTech refers to the use of “technology” in the “financial” services sector. However, it has recently come to represent the startups that have entered the financial services space leveraging innovative technologies and software. These FinTech startups rarely encompass the entire value chain of the financial industry. Rather, they provide specific innovative, high-value functions that are attractive to financial firms’ clients.

Investment in FinTech ventures is increasing. StrategyEye’s Insight Report: The Future of Fintech indicates that venture capital investment rose 52 percent annually between 2010 and 2014, and hit $2.8 billion in 2014. Many FinTech ventures are located in Silicon Valley, and I’ve heard that some large Japanese financial institutions have sent their employees there to study advanced cases and possibly identify prospective business partners.

The “technology” in FinTech

As suggested by the term FinTech, technology is the cornerstone of these companies’ success. Many FinTech startups are challenging established businesses by providing simple yet personalized customer experiences, leveraging new technologies such as analytics, mobile and social. The ubiquity and affordability of cloud provides them with the opportunity to start a business with limited funds and scale rapidly and elastically when the business gets on the track.

For example, LendingClub, a well-known FinTech venture located in Silicon Valley, started operating in 2007 by providing intermediary services to pair individual borrowers who need money, with lenders who are looking to make a return. Initially, it used Facebook as its platform, the premise being that borrowers would be less likely to default to lenders with whom they had social relationships. Although the company has since stopped positioning itself as a social network service and now use its own web-based platform, IT remains a key success factor. As an online business, LendingClub’s operating costs are low, allowing them to offer lower rates to borrowers and promise lenders higher rates than they’d otherwise get with a savings account. By leveraging a borrower’s historical financial data, the firm can offer them a rate in just minutes and instantly present qualified borrowers with multiple loan offers. Its business has grown rapidly in the United States, driven by the demand to consolidate credit card debt. LendingClub successfully made an initial public offering in 2014.

Another example I’ve noticed is in the credit card industry, where startups that provide smartphone payment services, such as Square, have been changing the game. With Square, credit-card payments are made using a small card reader attached to a user’s smartphone. The system has lower initial and ongoing costs, and enables faster payments to merchants, when compared with traditional services.

The latest IBM Center for Applied Insights Business Tech Trends study shows how the adoption of these new kinds of technologies can affect business performance. For example, pacesetting companies – those that understand the importance of technology and actively adopt it – are far more adept at using mobile technologies to accelerate product/service innovation and improve customer experience than those that don’t. These pacesetters also leverage big data and analytics, social and cloud technologies to enable improvements in customer experiences.

IBM-Pacesetters' scoreboard

Partnerships – the other piece of the puzzle

The rise of FinTech is not attributable solely to technology; there’s another force at play. The IBM Business Tech Trend also identifies that pacesetters approach partnerships differently than other companies. They tend to build broader partnerships that include customers, academic institutions and startups to fill skill gaps in delivering innovation.


Coming back to the LendingClub example, the company likely would not have grown so rapidly without its ecosystem. The value of LendingClub’s new loans issued increased from $0.7 billion in 2012 to $4.4 billion in 2014. The inflow of institutional investment – from the likes of hedge funds and insurance companies – was a major driver of this growth. This is particularly striking given that LendingClub was focused initially on individual investors only, and its web application was not well-suited for institutional investors. Later, new venture companies that create toolsets for institutional investors, such as Orchard, appeared on the scene. Orchard complemented LendingClub’s capabilities by providing tools for portfolio and order management to enable institutional investors to enter the growing peer-to-peer lending market.

One reason Orchard was able to enter this business is because LendingClub’s APIs are publicly available on the web, allowing third parties to more easily create new software with new functionality, such as rule-based automated investments or dashboards to view portfolios. Interestingly, the relationship between Orchard and LendingClub is not exclusive. Orchard also provides services to other peer-to-peer lending services, and at the same time LendingClub’s API is used by software providers other than Orchard.

I believe open ecosystems encourage new players to enter the market, and as the number of players entering the market increases, the opportunity for users to choose the best services increases, raising demand and growing this industry segment. LendingClub succeeded in achieving growth by building an ecosystem in the peer-to-peer lending market, establishing those partnerships through open APIs.

 What direction will FinTech take in Japan?

While these are global examples, FinTech is also expanding in Japan. Several startups focused on social lending, smartphone payment and personal financial management are emerging in Japan. In fact, I could argue that Japan has had a head start in the digital money and mobile payment segments compared to western countries, through mobile payment services such as “Osaifu-keitai” and “Suica”. In Japan, a number of companies within the communication, transportation and retail industries started the mobile payment business more than ten years ago.

I also see a growing emphasis on partnerships in the Japanese market. For example, a major financial institution hosted a business contest to bring in new ideas from startups. Another major bank has started to partner with FinTech startups to deliver better value for clients. I am curious to see how partnerships evolve in the Japanese market. Will it go beyond the typical company-to-company or company-to-customer partnership, and expand to the scale that accelerates the evolution of an entire industry, as was the case with LendingClub?

The term FinTech has just emerged in the Japanese market, but technologies such as analytics, cloud, mobile and social that are driving the growth of FinTech have been gaining traction for the last few years. How many of these technologies has your company adopted? Some companies are pioneering users of these technologies. Some Japanese banks have adopted public and private cloud infrastructure, and several mega banks have made the decision to use IBM Watson to improve call center business processes. However, overall, the adoption of new technology in Japan lags other countries – putting Japanese enterprises at risk of competitive threats from global peers.

Adoption & investment by country for the four technology areas

Expanding partnerships are important too. In an era when technologies evolve rapidly and business models change dramatically, no player can survive in isolation. It is more and more critical to proactively adopt new technologies and ideas by leveraging partnerships with customers, startups and even with competitors to accelerate the growth of an industry.



原田 依奈 


フィンテック・ベンチャーへの投資は世界で増えつづけている。StrategyEyeのInsight Report: The Future of Fintechによると、ベンチャーキャピタルのフィンテック企業への投資は2010年から2014年にかけて年率52%で増加し、2014年度には28億ドルに達したという。多くのベンチャーが位置しているのが米国・シリコンバレーであり、日本の大手金融機関もシリコンバレーに社員を派遣し、海外の事例収集や提携先探しをはじめているようだ。





このような新しいテクノロジーの活用が企業の業績にどのように影響するのか、最新のIBM Center for Applied Insights Business Tech Trendに興味深いデータが掲載されている。調査ではテクノロジーの重要性を理解し積極的に導入を進めている企業をペースセッターと呼んでいるが、ペースセッターはモバイルをうまく活用して製品/サービスのイノベーションを加速したり、顧客体験を向上しているという。またペースセッターはビッグデータ&アナリティクスやソーシャル、クラウドといったテクノロジーも顧客体験の向上に役立てているようだ。

パートナーシップ –もう1つの鍵

フィンテックの盛り上がりはテクノロジーだけに起因しているわけではない、もう1つ重要な要素がある。IBM Business Tech Trendでは、ペースセッターを成功に導いているもう1つの要因としてパートナーシップに対する考え方の違いを指摘している。ペースセッターはスキルギャップを埋めイノベーションを実現するために顧客、学術機関、スタートアップ企業など幅広いパートナーと連携しているというのだ。







日本市場でフィンテックという言葉自体への注目度が高まったのは最近のことだが、その根底にあるビッグデータ&アナリティクス、クラウド、モバイル、ソーシャルなどのテクノロジーには数年前から関心が集まっている。貴社においてはこれらのテクノロジーの導入はどれくらい進んでいるだろうか。すでにこれらのテクノロジーを先駆的に活用している企業もでてきている。国内でもパブリッククラウドプライベートクラウドを採用する銀行がでてきているし、いくつかの大手銀行はコールセンター業務を改善するためにIBM Watsonの導入を決めている。しかしながら全体的な視点でみると、日本企業のテクノロジーの導入率は欧米に比較して低い水準にとどまっている。これは世界市場でビジネスを展開する上での大きなリスクになるだろう。


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