Three board game pieces symbolizing German companies getting into fintech

5 German Companies Blossoming Into Fintech Players

We don’t only buy from them. We also pay with them. 

In contemporary e-commerce and digital service platforms, we observe a growing number of players who enter the realm of fintech. Those originally non-financial companies understand that offering embedded financial services has become a key success factor. And for some: A profitable side business (if they can sell their self-built payment or wallet systems to other companies).

Those companies realize their fintech ambitions in various forms: Some just rely on external partners and simply embed financial services, such as insurance or loans. Others have higher aspirations and aim at core payment processes. They want to run their own payment solutions. Perspectively, external enterprises or customers not associated with their primary business should use them, too.

If we had to guess: The former paragraphs had specific brands pop up before your mind’s eye. Apple, Amazon and Google. WeChat, perhaps. And of course, the term “Pay” attached to all of them. 

But besides the big names, non-financial companies from various industries have broken ground in fintech. 

And as we have a certain affinity to the German fintech scene, we want to take a look at 5 of new fintech players from Germany and where their ambitions lie. Here goes, from B to Z:

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A women scanned thoroughly, symbolizing know-your-customer procedures

What is KYC: An Overview for Fintech Companies

KYC, meaning Know Your Customer or Know Your Client, refers to the processes conducted to verify the identity of a customer and assess the risk of the business relationship with them. 

KYC is a crucial regulatory requirement for fintech companies and other institutions with financial responsibilities (like banks, credit institutions and insurance providers). Laws and regulations oblige those actors to validate the identity documents their clients provide. That’s equally true if the clients in question are legal entities instead of persons. KYC also requires companies to evaluate the clients’ financial status and monitor their monetary accounts for suspicious transactions. 

The goal: Adhere to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism regulations, prevent fraud and constrain the access of users, who don’t fulfil certain standards of credibility.

But Know Your Customer policies are not just boundaries. They also act as competitive factors. KYC yields insightful data on one’s own services and customers.

It thus helps establish a reputation as a secure and trustworthy company as well. And trust is likely the most valuable asset for any financial business today.

So it’s time for a deeper look into the meaning and definition of KYC, its chances and its challenges. 

This Know Your Customer Introduction for Fintechs Contains:

  • A definition of KYC
  • A discussion of key KYC-related concepts such as AML or EDD
  • An overview of legacy KYC procedures and their modern counterparts
  • A list of typical challenges fintech companies face with KYC

Now, shall we? 

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Two hands with medical gloves handing over a banknote, representing fintech during the corona year of 2020

How 2020 Changed the Fintech Industry – Trends and Developments

What a year… good thing, we have a new one in replacement. 

Last December, when putting together our annual industry recap articles (you can find some of them here if you are in for nostalgia), we could not have guessed that the fintech scene would be on the brink of profound change. Many predictions, fintech and banking experts had made for 2020, did not occur – or did not occur for the reasons that we assumed would provoke them. 

Everything considered, though, the financial industry got off cheaply in 2020, when compared to other industries. Some branches could even step up their game. 

The question now is, if the fintech trends of 2020 will continue in 2021 or if they will “return to form”, once the restrictions in worldwide trade, business and retail loosen again. A look in the rear-view mirror will give us some implications. 

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A car's dashboard, with the number 2019 stuck to it, symbolizing the automotive market of the year 2019 in this review article.

2019: The Year in Automotive

Photo of Thijs Reus, co-founder of trimplement
Thijs Reus looks back on the automotive developments of 2019

Sometimes, things take longer than expected. 

In my 2018 review, I have hinted at how PSD2 and GDPR would ring in a new, more dynamic era of fintech, filled with opportunities. And then again it didn’t. The PSD2 deadline has been expanded, as banks and other financial companies have kicked the adaption of their systems and services down the road, so to say.

In the meantime, BigTech companies like Google, Alibaba or Apple cement their market position with their own smart payment solutions.

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A computer screen displaying the word cybersecurity

Cybersecurity – A Big Deal for Fintech

We do a lot of things online.

We shop at online marketplaces. We rent movies at online video libraries. We manage our finances in online banking apps – all from the comfort of our homes. On the downside, criminals don’t have to stand up from their couch either, to rob your bank or steal your private data. Internet crime and assaults on cybersecurity occur in increasing numbers. Banking institutions are a popular target, as are their little, nonconformist peers: Fintech companies.

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Picture of an ATM which is out of service, a symbol how Google Pay threatens banks and fintechs

Google Pay: Nuisance for Banks, Nightmare for Fintechs

When pondering on digital transformation in the financial industry, one quote by Bill Gates comes to mind. Admit it, you know which one. It just fits perfectly, as we see tech giants leave their mark with emoney payment solutions like Google Pay and Apple Pay. Bill Gates said: 

We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore

He said this in 1994. The millennial generation probably did not listen to his words back then – living the kid life requires full attention. But today, millennials resonate very much with Gates’ words. According to research by Global Banking Insights, at least one-third of all US millennials believe that they will soon live a life without banks. 

And they might have a point. The number of customers inclined to use online banking services has doubled over the last 10 years. As a result, the demand for digital finance applications increases — and quite a few banks struggle to deliver on that front. The internet is not their native environment. Fintech companies try to capitalize on this, using their technological expertise to disrupt the tried and true ways of banking.

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A lamp shining on an open book and revealing the writing '8 Must-Read Books for Fintech Founders'

8 Must-Read Books for Fintech Founders

Fintech books? Are they really a thing?

Modern financial technology is inextricably linked with the Digital Era. Mobile payment, personal finance management, and cryptocurrency trading are major application fields of fintech startups.

Thus it’s only fitting that the fintech community relies on the internet for exchanging views on the topic, too. There are fintech news platforms like Finextra or Financial News. Networking communities like Holland Fintech and meetups like Finfinity invite people to share their insights. Blogs centered around experts like Chris Skinner react on developments on short notice. It’s obvious: In-depth knowledge of financial technology is readily available and easily found online.

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A drawing of a wallet which is digitally connected to internet of things devices like smart cars or fridges

All the Smart Things — Fintech, Blockchain and the Internet of Things

If the rooms had ears and the furniture had mouths … oh, how would they slander about our habits behind our backs?

Well, they can already talk to us for once: Voice-controlled assistant devices like Alexa and Siri inhabit our private spaces just now. And we can easily picture them having a conversation with each other, too (even though it would be a funny one for sure). But what if our clock radio told our food processor to get that smoothie ready, for we are about to leave for work? Or our watch told our bathtub to run us a remedial bath because we’re leaving our workplace with the first stirrings of a common cold? And think of a fridge, buying food articles once it runs out of them, using its own ewallet…

That’s where we enter the domain of the Internet of Things – a domain ripe with opportunities for fintech companies. 

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A number of signs displaying the words InsurTech, RegTech, WealthTech, PensionTech, and PropTech

Beyond FinTech — 5 *Techs That Shake Up Their Industries

FinTech does not always equal FinTech. The number of digital tools and technological advancements rejigging the financial sector would go beyond the scope of this article. If there is one thing that is true about most FinTech solutions, it’s their focus on “personal finance”. FinTech software often allows users to manage their finances on their own. He doesn’t need an intermediary anymore, such as a human advisor or a bank — although a robot advisor could still be thrown in.

Yet, when looking at the vast variety of technologies and software applications, one thing becomes clear: FinTech has quite a few peers running the show. They are *Techs in their very own right.

Let’s take a look at what we have!

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