The UK FinTech industry has come a very long way in a very short space of time. Mobile-first banks have gained a great deal of traction, and Open Banking is facilitating the entry of a plethora of innovative third parties. But we haven't yet seen a new entrant gain widespread mass-market adoption.
In China, on the other hand, mobile payment apps such as Alipay and WeChat have been enormously successful. By combining FinTech offerings with social media and e-commerce, they have very quickly become an essential part of everyday life. Could it be that new entrants to the banking sector in the UK will have to offer similar services in order to scale? And could it mean that Big Tech has a real opportunity to win in the mobile payments space?
China’s mobile payments revolution was partly spurred by the inconvenience felt by many of using traditional banks, from having to travel long distances for rural customers to having to queue in branches in the cities. But it was the unique formula offered by China’s tech giants that generated the explosion: by blending social, e-commerce and payment functions into single apps, customers could manage their finances at the same time as managing their social lives.