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The Future of Fintech In A Coronavirus World

The Future of Fintech In A Coronavirus World




There is little doubt rapid innovation is occurring in the financial technology space. While a paradigm shift in financial services was already well underway, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate that shift. My role as CEO at SuperMoney has provided me with some insight into how things are evolving in the fintech space. Below are some of my predictions for the future of fintech.

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An acceleration of branch closures

Banks have been pruning branch locations for years. The net loss of branch locations will accelerate.

While most bank services are more conveniently accessed from our phones, branches have historically been an important part of bank customer acquisition and retention as many people prefer to open an account and seek financial advice in person.

The COVID-19 pandemic will change consumer behavior and shift account openings online. We will also see the adoption of AI and teleadvisory services replace branch-based advisory services.

A new model for advisory services

The trend to digital is not limited to banks or other brick and mortar financial institutions. All sorts of financial professionals will see more of their business shift towards a digital remote experience.

Real estate agents, independent financial advisors, financial planners, and wealth managers are being forced to take their business digital. These are services where in-person interactions are the standard way to acquire customers and fulfill services.

These professions were already under attack. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the need to adapt.

Contactless payment adoption

When you hand over cash or a credit card, you put yourself and the person accepting your payment at risk.

survey from early March shows that a growing number of people in the U.S. consider contactless payments a basic need after the spread of COVID-19. These tap-and-go payments don’t require any physical contact between your phone or payment card and the sales terminal while being more secure than traditional cards.

Germs aside, it’s pretty wild to me that in American restaurants we still hand our credit cards over to strangers who then walk away out of sight to process our bill.

This is going to change. Various forms of contactless payments will gain traction but ultimately, mobile wallets will broadly replace physical wallets.

Accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence

A world with fewer in-person financial service interactions means a world with more cybercrime and financial fraud. Fraud prevention is a key area where AI’s ability to recognize patterns is proving valuable and will expand.

Automated customer service interactions via AI chatbots are already being adopted but will expand to include more tailored financial advice. In the future, increasingly personalized AI advisors may be perceived as more trustworthy, objective, and reliable than in-person advisors.

The use of machine learning to improve credit decisioning models isn’t new to the financial service industry. The applications of this technology will expand to new applications, such as monitoring borrower spending behavior post-funding to identify risk patterns for default so a financial institution can proactively take steps to intervene.

Banks and other financial service providers were early to adopt AI broadly. AI allows for faster transactions while giving customers the convenience they demand and significantly reducing operating costs. The adoption of AI will accelerate to broaden existing implementations and expand into new ones.

A return to bundling and financial intermediation

Over the last decade, financial technology upstarts scrambled to digitize specific product categories that had been traditionally bundled into a diversified set of product offerings by traditional banks. LendingClub for consumer loans, OnDeck for business financing, Chime for deposits, Wealthfront for wealth management, and the list goes on. The underlying idea being that disaggregating the components of traditional banking would result in targeted solutions with better experiences for both retail consumers and businesses.

With billions of venture capital dollars going to startups building an app for every specific financial service, you inevitably end up with a customer base that is overwhelmed. Consumers can’t keep up with 10 different applications to manage their finances.

At least a few firms who touted disintermediation and disaggregation of traditional banks in their early days have shifted their strategies in the last couple years towards aggregating an ever-growing set of product lines, often as intermediaries to banks or other financial partners. It seems in the end that bundling financial services makes a lot of sense for both businesses as well as customers, and we can expect that trend to continue.

The resurgence of banks

Many fintech companies who positioned themselves as challengers to or disruptors of banks ironically ended up building on top of the business or technology rails of the banks they were supposedly disrupting. Some built front-end skins on top of the technology backbone of existing banks, such as Chime’s relationship with The Bancorp Bank. Others built an entire technology stack of their own but used partner banks to address licensing requirements, such as LendingClub’s partnership with WebBank for loan originations.

We’ve seen a gradual shift towards these companies attempting to become banks themselves. For example, SoFi filed an application to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to charter an industrial loan company unit called SoFi Bank. It later decided to back out of the process in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. LendingClub recently went so far as to acquire Radius Bank.

Behind the scenes, banks have kept busy and are moving forward with new or improved direct to consumer online offerings in lending verticals, deposits, and mortgages. By launching Marcus, Goldman Sachs disproved the idea that banks are too slow to compete against Silicon Valley online. Other incumbents like Chase have invested heavily in their digital experiences and typically offer a more unified experience than the competing upstarts.

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many fintechs hard bringing significant liquidity and demand shocks. Pandemic aside, a wave of fintech companies were reaching mid-stage, and are at the point that they must raise a mega venture capital round, become profitable, or sell. All three options have become more challenging due to the pandemic. I expect we are going to see considerable consolidation as banks with ambitions for digital expansion swoop in and buy up these companies to extend their own platforms.

The return of personal finance management apps

Both banks and fintechs trying to be banks face the same problem – consumers like choice.

Google and Amazon gained monopolistic positions within their respective industries by enabling consumer choice, not by focusing on selling their own products.

Regulatory, technological, and financial market constraints have mostly kept financial products undifferentiated. Some entrants believed customer experience would help them differentiate and win market share. While customer experience is hugely important, financial service providers are primarily differentiated on their rates, fees, and other key terms. A lender can build an awe-inspiring digital experience, but at the end of the day if a competitor offers a competing loan at a 5-point APR reduction, that competitor is likely to win the business. So, I can’t see a scenario where any one of these direct financial service providers achieves a monopolistic position in the market.

Personal finance management (PFM) apps are a neutral intermediary that can help consumers bundle a variety of financial service providers into one financial picture. The PFM tool Mint showed promise of becoming a major player. But after getting acquired by competitor Intuit in 2009, Mint has largely withered away ever since.

Credit Karma managed to bring on a sizeable userbase by offering free credit reports, but the core product offering remains surprisingly unchanged (not to mention that you can get a free credit report just about anywhere these days). Credit Karma was moving towards a more unified personal finance experience with the launch of Credit Karma Tax. However, they were treading too close to Intuit’s TurboTax business and Intuit has gone forward with a $7.1B acquisition of Credit Karma. It remains to be seen whether Credit Karma will follow the same fate as Mint.

The opportunity to develop an Amazon-like financial services marketplace intermediary with accompanying personal finance management tools remains wide open. The SuperMoney financial service marketplace aims to capitalize on that opportunity.

Growth in embedded finance

Acquiring financial service customers is getting more expensive. A challenger bank or a new fintech must build a customer base from scratch in an incredibly competitive market. Rather than slog it out, some of the most exciting fintechs are opting to build platforms that enable embedded finance for brands that already have customer loyalty. Brands with mindshare are leveraging these platforms to integrate financial services and make their product or service easier.

We’re seeing that with Uber Money, which includes a digital wallet and upgraded debit and credit cards. We will likely see that trend continue and expand with big brands that you wouldn’t typically associate with financial services. We will almost certainly see major tech companies like Amazon and Google make a more focused run at your wallet.

Digital layaway will disrupt credit cards

In the 1930s Great Depression era, retailers nationwide came up with an innovation to make it easier for people to shop. It was called layaway. Customers placed a down payment on the goods they wanted so that the store would hold them for a set amount of time. The customer would then pay off the purchase over the course of a few weeks or months until the full purchase price had been paid.

In the 1980s, credit cards came around and reversed the order of operation – allowing the customer to buy now and pay later.

In the 2020s, an emerging trend in e-commerce is the adoption of a new breed of digital layaway companies like Klarna and Affirm. These firms combine the instant gratification of credit cards while giving the customer a more structured way to pay it all off in a short installment period.

The COVID-19 lockdowns undoubtedly broadened the usage of e-commerce into new product and service categories while igniting a recession to rival the Great Depression. The combination of an expanding addressable market with the need to be more financially conscious will likely accelerate the use of digital layaway services and take a significant cut of credit card transactions.

This trend is not limited to e-commerce. Any small business will be able to offer financing without having to pay additional fees or discount rates to do so. Financing will be available for anything that is consumable.

Bitcoin may face a day of reckoning

At the height of COVID-19 panic, pretty much every asset in the world fell in value, even supposed safe-haven assets such as gold and bitcoin. This was bitcoin’s time to shine as the digital currency is supposed to be completely uncorrelated with the rest of the market.

With central banks globally adding many trillions to their balance sheets, significant fiat currency inflation is expected to occur. There is a non-trivial risk of collapse of confidence in the monetary system. In this scenario, the real test for bitcoin will occur.

Bitcoin will either show that it can succeed as a global, apolitical store of value and medium of exchange. Or, given that bitcoin does not have any real industrial or consumer value in the way that precious metals do, bitcoin will go to zero as investors flood to an asset-class with an underlying intrinsic value.

Regardless of the performance of bitcoin as an asset class, blockchain technology adoption will grow as we continue to apply the technology where it is best suited.

America will become a nation of savers

America is facing the biggest economic recession since the Great Depression and it’s all happening as about 30 percent of Americans have zero emergency savings, and only one-fifth have savings sufficient to last six months. The consumer financial pain that comes out of this will have long-lasting behavioral effects.

As Americans emerge from this financial crisis, many people will start saving, not for a rainy day, but for years to come. This change in behavior will be enabled by fintech services that make savings easy and automated. For example, savings apps that round-up the pennies from your purchases and allocate them to an investment account.


These are interesting times for the financial services sector. Fintech startups have revolutionized what we expect from financial institutions. However, this has not been a wipeout for the old guard of financial institutions. On the contrary, some are riding the fintech wave and coming out as market leaders. Often it is a marriage of necessity between startups and major financial institutions in the pursuit of faster, simpler, cheaper, and more transparent financial services. We are on the brink of major technological changes that will change the way we manage money. However, transforming all this potential into reality in these challenging times will require resilience and partnership from all stakeholders.

The post The Future of Fintech In A Coronavirus World appeared first on ValueWalk.

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DNAmFitAge: Biological age indicator incorporating physical fitness

“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”…



“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”

Credit: 2023 McGreevy et al.

“We expect DNAmFitAge will be a useful biomarker for quantifying fitness benefits at an epigenetic level and can be used to evaluate exercise-based interventions.”

BUFFALO, NY- June 7, 2023 – A new research paper was published in Aging (listed by MEDLINE/PubMed as “Aging (Albany NY)” and “Aging-US” by Web of Science) Volume 15, Issue 10, entitled, “DNAmFitAge: biological age indicator incorporating physical fitness.”

Physical fitness is a well-known correlate of health and the aging process and DNA methylation (DNAm) data can capture aging via epigenetic clocks. However, current epigenetic clocks did not yet use measures of mobility, strength, lung, or endurance fitness in their construction. 

In this new study, researchers Kristen M. McGreevy, Zsolt Radak, Ferenc Torma, Matyas Jokai, Ake T. Lu, Daniel W. Belsky, Alexandra Binder, Riccardo E. Marioni, Luigi Ferrucci, Ewelina Pośpiech, Wojciech Branicki, Andrzej Ossowski, Aneta Sitek, Magdalena Spólnicka, Laura M. Raffield, Alex P. Reiner, Simon Cox, Michael Kobor, David L. Corcoran, and Steve Horvath from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Physical Education, Altos Labs, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, University of Hawaii, University of Edinburgh, National Institute on Aging, Jagiellonian University, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, University of Łódź, Central Forensic Laboratory of the Police in Warsaw, Poland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Washington, and University of British Columbia develop blood-based DNAm biomarkers for fitness parameters including gait speed (walking speed), maximum handgrip strength, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) which have modest correlation with fitness parameters in five large-scale validation datasets (average r between 0.16–0.48). 

“These parameters were chosen because handgrip strength and VO2max provide insight into the two main categories of fitness: strength and endurance [23], and gait speed and FEV1 provide insight into fitness-related organ function: mobility and lung function [8, 24].”

The researchers then used these DNAm fitness parameter biomarkers with DNAmGrimAge, a DNAm mortality risk estimate, to construct DNAmFitAge, a new biological age indicator that incorporates physical fitness. DNAmFitAge was associated with low-intermediate physical activity levels across validation datasets (p = 6.4E-13), and younger/fitter DNAmFitAge corresponds to stronger DNAm fitness parameters in both males and females. 

DNAmFitAge was lower (p = 0.046) and DNAmVO2max is higher (p = 0.023) in male body builders compared to controls. Physically fit people had a younger DNAmFitAge and experienced better age-related outcomes: lower mortality risk (p = 7.2E-51), coronary heart disease risk (p = 2.6E-8), and increased disease-free status (p = 1.1E-7). These new DNAm biomarkers provide researchers a new method to incorporate physical fitness into epigenetic clocks.

“Our newly constructed DNAm biomarkers and DNAmFitAge provide researchers and physicians a new method to incorporate physical fitness into epigenetic clocks and emphasizes the effect lifestyle has on the aging methylome.”

Read the full study: DOI: 

Corresponding Authors: Kristen M. McGreevy, Zsolt Radak, Steve Horvath

Corresponding Emails:,, 

Keywords: epigenetics, aging, physical fitness, biological age, DNA methylation

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About Aging-US:

Launched in 2009, Aging publishes papers of general interest and biological significance in all fields of aging research and age-related diseases, including cancer—and now, with a special focus on COVID-19 vulnerability as an age-dependent syndrome. Topics in Aging go beyond traditional gerontology, including, but not limited to, cellular and molecular biology, human age-related diseases, pathology in model organisms, signal transduction pathways (e.g., p53, sirtuins, and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR, among others), and approaches to modulating these signaling pathways.

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Martha Stewart Has a Spicy Take on Americans Who Want to Work From Home

This half-baked take might need to stay in the oven a little longer.



Lifestyle icon Martha Stewart has been on a roll when it comes to representing vivacious women over 60. Whether she's teaming up to charm audiences alongside her BFF Snoop Dogg, poking fun at Elon Musk, or starring as Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue cover model, Martha stays busy. 

Her most recent publicity moment, however, doesn't have the same wholesome feeling Stewart brings to the table. In an interview with Footwear News, the DIY-queen had some choice words about Americans who want to continue working from home after covid-19 lockdown shut down offices.

“You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely," the cozy-home guru said. "Look at the success of France with their stupid … you know, off for August, blah blah blah. That’s not a very thriving country. Should America go down the drain because people don’t want to go back to work?”

Well, that's certainly a viewpoint. A lot to unpack there. Many online were confused--after all, didn't Stewart basically make her career by "working from home?"

Sitting down with The Today Show, Stewart elaborated on her controversial stance. It seems she's confusing "work from home" with a three-day workweek. 

"I'm having this argument with so many people these days. It's just that my kind of work is very creative and is very collaborative. And I cannot really stomach another zoom. [...But] I hate going to an office, it's empty. During COVID I took every precaution. We [...] set up an office at [...] my home[...] Now we're our offices and our three day work week, I just don't agree with it," Stewart tells viewers. 

"It's frightening because if you read the economic news and look at what's happening everywhere in the world, a three-day workweek doesn't get the work done, doesn't get the productivity up. It doesn't help with the economy and I think that's very important."

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How cashless societies can boost financial inclusion — with the right safeguards

The UK could learn a lot from developing economies about using digital payments to boost financial inclusion.




Accepting digital payments. WESTOCK PRODUCTIONS/Shutterstock

Cashless societies, where transactions are entirely digital, are gaining traction in many parts of the world, particularly after a pandemic-era boom in demand for online banking.

Improvements in digital payment infrastructure such as mobile payments, digital currencies and online banking, make it more convenient for people and businesses to buy and sell things without using cash. Even the Bank of England is looking into how a digital pound might work, showing the potential for a significant shift from physical cash to digital payments in the UK.

Read more: How a digital pound could work alongside cryptocurrencies

Fintech companies have accelerated the transition towards cashless payments with innovations including mobile payment apps, digital wallets, cryptocurrencies and online banking services. The COVID pandemic was also a tipping point that created unprecedented appetite for digital transactions. Fintechs emerged as a life line for many during lockdowns, particularly vulnerable populations that needed emergency lines of credit and ways to make and receive payments.

By 2021, approximately 71% of adults in developing countries had bank accounts. But this leaves nearly 30% of the population still needing access to essential financial products and services. Fintechs can provide more affordable and accessible financial services and products. This helps boost financial inclusion, particularly for the “unbanked”, or those without a bank account.

In the UK, around 1.3 million people, roughly 4% of the population, lack access to banking services. The government and financial institutions have worked together to promote the adoption of digital payments, and the UK’s Request to Pay service allows people and businesses to request and make payments using digital channels such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

But other countries are moving faster towards a cashless society. In Sweden, only about 10% of all payments were made in cash in 2020. This move towards cashless payments in the country has been facilitated by mobile payment solutions like Swish, which people can use to send and receive money via mobile phone.

Boosting financial inclusion

India has gone even further. In less than a decade, the country has become a digital finance leader. It has also made significant progress in promoting digital financial inclusion, mainly through the government’s flagship programme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).

India’s banks also participate in mobile payment solutions like Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which can connect multiple accounts via one app. India’s digital infrastructure, known as the India Stack also aims to expand financial inclusion by encouraging companies to develop fintech solutions.

Many developing economies are using digitalisation to boost financial inclusion in this way. Kenya introduced its M-Pesa mobile money service in 2007. While microfinance institutions that provide small loans to low-income individuals and small businesses were first introduced in Bangladesh in the 1970s via the Grameen Bank project.

Digital lending has also grown in India in recent years. Its fintechs use algorithms and data analytics to assess creditworthiness and provide loans quickly and at a lower cost than traditional banks.

These innovative platforms have helped to bridge the gap between the formal financial system and underserved populations – those with low or no income – providing fast access to financial services. By removing barriers such as high transaction costs, lack of physical branches and some credit history requirements, fintech companies can reach a wider range of customers and provide financial services that are tailored to their needs.

It’s the tech behind these systems that helps fintechs connect with their customers. The increased use of digital payment methods generates a wealth of data to gain insights into consumer behaviour, spending patterns and other relevant information that can be used to further support a cashless society.

Helping the UK’s unbanked

Countries like the UK could also promote digital financial inclusion to help unbanked people. But this would require a combination of government support, innovation and the widespread adoption of mobile payment solutions.

There are some significant challenges to overcome to create a true – and truly fair – cashless economy. For example, a cashless system could exclude people who do not have access to digital payment methods, such as the elderly or low-income populations. According to a recent study by Age UK, 75% of over 65s with a bank account said they wanted to conduct at least one banking task in person at a bank branch, building society or post office.

Providing more cashless options could also increase the risk of cybercrime, digital fraud such as phishing scams and data breaches – particularly among people that aren’t as financially literate.

There is a dark side to fintech: algorithm biases and predatory lending practices negatively affect vulnerable and minority groups as well as women. Even major financial firms such as Equifax, Visa and Mastercard can get compromised by data breaches, creating valid concerns about data security for many people.

Cross-border transfer of personal data by fintech companies also concerns regulators, but there is still a lack of internationally recognised data protection standards. This should be addressed as the trend towards cashless societies continues.

Two hands hold a fan of GBP banknotes: £5, £10, £20, £50.
Paying with cash. Nieves Mares/Shutterstock

Building guardrails

Regulations affect how fintech companies can provide financial services but ensure they operate within the law. Since fintech companies generally aim to disrupt markets, however, this can create a complex relationship with regulators.

Collaboration between regulators and fintech companies will boost understanding of these innovative business models and help shape future regulatory frameworks. Countries like India have shown the way in this respect. An innovation hub run by UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority is a good start. It supports product and service launches and offers access to synthetic data sets for testing and development.

Fintech can help finance become more inclusive. But it needs policies and regulations that support innovation, promote competition, ensure financial stability and – most importantly – to help protect the citizens of these new cashless societies.

Thankom Arun does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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