Fintech A to Z: Demystifying the fintech ecosystem, from automation to Zug

18 Apr 20162.12k Views

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Do you know how automation and AI are altering financial services? Are you befuddled by banking, bitcoin and blockchain?

Fintech Week 2016

As we begin our third week-long series of fintech-focused content, we’re welcoming the uninitiated to this exciting movement with a comprehensive primer on all the key trends and terms in fintech.

Of course, there’s far more to fintech than 26 simple keywords, which is why we’ve crammed much more information than first meets the eye into deeper explanations for the extra-curious. Simply click through to ‘Ledgers’ to learn more about blockchain and bitcoin, or tap ‘Zug’ to find out how a Swiss-based company is enabling the expansion of this technology.

Inspirefest 2016


Through powerful algorithms and artificial intelligence, automation is becoming a crucial cog in the financial machine – so much so that some people feel their jobs are under threat from bots.


Banks have dramatically changed in recent decades through digital transformation and now find themselves awkwardly straddling two disparate worlds of legacy and innovation.


With e-commerce taking care of virtually every non-cash purchase these days, we are now moving into an area of m-commerce powered by mobile devices.


Analysis of patterns in big data can better inform financial decision-making and having a sound data infrastructure is now more vital than ever, especially for fintech companies.


Fintech is powering pioneers in the burgeoning collaborative, or sharing, economy, which is providing new ways for people and businesses to access finance and insurance services.


Speaking of sharing, peer-to-peer lending platforms and crowdfunding are dramatically altering the financing landscape – but will regulation stop this new activity in its tracks?


Governments around the world want to capitalise on fintech growth, and Ireland, guided by the IFS2020 strategy and sector leaders, is no exception.


To many people, hackers are the bad guys who are trying to break into your online accounts and steal your money but, to high-tech companies, they’re vital employees.

Internet of things

The internet of things (IoT) offers myriad devices friction-free access to your finances, increasing the risk of those finances becoming compromised.


Jargon: the inevitable offspring of the opaque language of financial institutions and the complex terminology of technology.


By all accounts, investment in fintech is increasing at a rapid rate, prompting concerns that the sector is a creating a bubble fit to burst.


Ledgers are the accounting systems of old, and blockchain technology has modernised this process to make it work for the digital age.


While interacting in bank branches is at its lowest ever, on-demand access to your money on the go is at a high thanks to mobile technology.


When it comes to financial transactions, networks need to support rapid-fire information transfer detailed down to the last picosecond.


The world of fintech is increasingly becoming a source of some of the leading open-source software out there.


The payments industry has shifted in numerous directions in the past decade and it has become crowded with players big and small, dabbling in new and inventive ways of processing and authorising transactions.

Quantum computing

A look into the fintech crystal ball would show that quantum computing could be the future of processing millions of transactions in seconds.


Regtech, the marriage of new technology and regulation, will be the key to facilitating compliance with upcoming requirements and directives.


Fintech has attracted more than its fair share of hungry start-ups, and cultivated a herd of high-value unicorns.


With start-ups of varying success encroaching onto almost every banking revenue stream, how the big banks deal with disruptive threats could determine their future.


While many would say that getting the unbanked and the underbanked to become more involved in financial institutions should be a priority, fintech could render that unnecessary.


Every time a new verification platform is conceived, hackers are already hard at work finding ways around it, propelling fintech players to constantly come up with new and more novel means of authorising payments.


Unfortunately, the evidence of troubling gender gaps in finance and technology has not prevented those same issues from filtering into their offspring, fintech.


Individuals and businesses used to be entirely at the mercy of financial institutions when it came to changing currencies – now, many of these same transactions take place through new online leaders.


Digital natives, millenials, Generation Z – whatever you want to call them, it is clear that younger people are the natural consumers for fintech products.


This Swiss canton known for low tax rates and a high number of registered companies has been cultivating a fertile fintech ecosystem that has earned it the nickname Crypto Valley.

The complete fintech A to Z

 Fintech A-Z: Automation  Banking  Commerce  Data
Economy Financing Government Hackers
IoT Jargon Ka-ching – fintech investment figures Ledgers – bitcoin, blockchain and more
Mobile Networks Open Payments
Quantum Computing Regtech Start-ups Threats
Unbanked Verification Women X-change
Youth Zug


Alphabet and abacus image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is managing editor of