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How Did COVID-19 Change the Fintech Industry?

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® - Jan 26, 2021 at 7:12AM

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The pandemic was certainly disruptive to many fintech companies, but it also accelerated some important growth trends.

The COVID-19 pandemic was obviously a terrible situation for millions of people and businesses around the world. However, it also provided a tailwind for the global digital transformation, and this has had a big effect on the financial technology, or fintech industry.

In this Jan. 14 Fool Live video clip, Fool.com contributor Matt Frankel, CFP, sits down with Jim Johnson, head of merchant services for Fidelity National Information Services (FIS 2.08%) to find out how the pandemic has changed their business. 

Matt Frankel: I was brushing up on your latest results before we got on here, and I saw that even in the pandemic, your revenue didn't really drop year-over-year, which is pretty impressive given what's going on. How has COVID affected your business? Are you seeing a shift in what merchants are asking for? I'll ask a follow-up after that. But just how has COVID changed your business?

Jim Johnson: It's a great question. Number 1, as it relates to results and those things, I think the strength of our company is we have such a balanced portfolio. As you look at COVID, many industries have been hurt dramatically, you look at the airline industry, for instance, hospitality, travel, those types of things. But if you look at the banking business, bank business is thriving and in particular, the investment space is really thriving. Everybody has been a day trader during this period. Us having that balanced portfolio as a company at FIS has been very good. The other thing, it's been a challenging year, but in many ways, it's been one of the more rewarding years of my career. I think it's been a year in which I think FIS has been at its best for serving the communities we do business with. Look no further than here in the United States related to PPP loan and stimulus packages. We've had to develop products and services to meet those needs in a matter of weeks. Whereas historically it's months to do that type of stuff. So being able to meet the needs of those programs that have been brought on very quickly, and serve the people in our country and other countries, it has been very rewarding. Then just lastly, if you look specifically at the merchant business, we have a very big presence both in card-present and card-not-present. I would tell you the big change we've seen is, it's no secret the move to card-not-present transactions, e-commerce, omni-channel has been massive. E-commerce has grown, I think, globally 24 percent year-over-year. The amount of contactless payments and technology related to that has been dramatic. People speak to, "Hey, we've accelerated some of that e-commerce, omni-channel, contactless technology by five years." I'm not into prognosticating, but I'll tell you, just the amount of activity in those areas has been dramatic. Hey Matt, I think you're on mute.

Frankel: You mentioned omni-channel. Raj says, "What are the new emerging trends that you're tracking?"

Johnson: On omni-channel, I said the big ones for us would be buy now pay later is very big, that's exploding. That's probably our fastest-growing payment type globally right now. I would say the Scandinavian countries, Australia, some of the companies in the far east are a bit ahead of the US and the UK, but we're catching up very dramatically in that regards. We've been a leading player in partnering with some of the leading organizations in that space to offer that capability to our client base. I would say omni-channel in general, we did a recent study with our generation pace study, we found that 73 percent of people in some way, shape, or form, use a different channel to make a payment debt at some point along the way, whether that's on the brick-and-mortar side, on their phone, on their computer, on their tablet, on their phone, returning an item to a different store than when they bought it, buying it online, returning it in-person. All of the capability that allows you to operate the same and allows our customers, employees to look at the same platform system, billing, reporting regardless of where the transaction took place. Those are the key ingredients to our omnichannel investments right now.

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