Taiwan has finally held its first FinTech exhibition. FinTech Taipei brought together companies from over 10 countries including the US and UK, 125 FinTech startups, 200 financial institutions, and numerous colleges and universities. Two short days of activities attracted over 32,000 visitors. Such enthusiasm highlights the development potential of financial services, leaving us full of expectations for the next stage of Taiwan’s FinTech development.
The most exciting part of FinTech Taipei was the carefully designed application pavilions, exhibiting the results of financial institutions’ investments in FinTech over the years. No longer are FinTech application scenarios limited to textual descriptions. Participants got the chance to see and experience actual use cases for themselves. Entrepreneurs did not disappoint either. Each forum demonstrated innovative technology, and interested members of the public got the chance to interact with investors. Exchange with foreign experts, domestic banks, and securities and insurance leaders has helped us make tally up Taiwan’s current FinTech achievements, and outline the possibilities for its future development.
Meanwhile, it’s even more gratifying to see the relationship between entrepreneurs and financial institutions subtly changing from opposition to integration. Many have worried over the past few years that technology could replace the functions of financial institutions, and that decentralized currencies might even displace the entire financial system and reshape financial services. With the benefit of two or three years of hindsight, however, the services originally proposed by path-breaking entrepreneurs have proven difficult to scale, which has become a market bottleneck. In contrast, cross-industry collaboration and R&D by the financial institutions themselves has transformed the user experience of traditional financial services like payments and foreign currency exchange. Of course, in this rare exchange event, it was still possible to see entrepreneurs continuing to innovate in payments, P2P lending, and blockchain applications. It is still worth keeping an eye out for emerging developments.
After all, financial institutions and technology entrepreneurs have a “coopetition” relationship, each facing the same customers. The basis of finance however is trust, which can’t be readily displaced by technology. The integration of finance with technology will create a smoother user experience, and enable more targeted marketing. International internet giants like Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, and Tencent have long eyed financial markets. Thus, integration of finance and technology is becoming more urgent as social media and E-commerce invade finance. In the face of threats from Fintech, the financial industry must earn consumer trust by introducing innovative services and continuing to strengthen its risk control and capital utilization.
Finally, at the event, we also saw the efforts of regulators to shape the business environment, allowing Taiwan to create more sophisticated, convenient, and inclusive financial services. Added value from technology provides the financial industry, beset by compressed spreads, with a possible path forward. To create the future, though, one must embrace it. We must ask ourselves, as an industry, whether we’re ready for the future. If you’re not, it’s time to be!