Looking back at our lives ten years ago, it is surprising how much our world has developed. We evolved from doing things manually to having things done automatically. We evolved from spending hours at the bank to finishing a transaction within just one click. The world has been changing at a flashing pace. Following the world trend in technology, many SaaS and Fintech enterprises have been born and increased astoundingly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of SaaS and Fintech companies is also expected to continue to rise even after the pandemic.
Since both types of business are leading trends in the market, in this article, we would like to introduce to you the relationship between SaaS (Software as a Service) and Fintech (financial technology).
1. What is SaaS?
Together with the development of technology, SaaS (Software as a Service) has become a trend and is gradually replacing the existence of traditional SaaP (Software as a Product) due to its convenience, flexibility, fast implementation, and cost-saving benefit.
2. How companies benefit from SaaS applications
SaaS allows businesses to access a particular service remotely through a web browser, using an internet connection. With SaaS, after implementing the application, companies just need to pay a certain amount to “hire” the service from the provider. They do not have to invest in setting up a server and other maintenance tasks afterward. Each amount of fees paid indicates a certain number of functions that can be performed. By this form of service, business owners can adjust which service plans are the most suitable for them. Hence they can cut unnecessary maintenance costs.
With its specific benefits, SaaS is favored among big companies, as well as start-ups and entrepreneurs. By implementing SaaS, companies can spend more time increasing their revenue or improving their operating efficiency instead of focusing on handling, upgrading, and maintaining their system.
Moreover, nowadays, SaaS applications are specialized and can be applied to different departments in a company such as HR, Operations, Finance & Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Customer Service, and so on.
Let’s take the following as an example. Shoeboxed is a SaaS company specializing in managing receipts for individuals and businesses (both small-size and big-size). (You can check out Shoeboxed here). All data on the receipts are scanned and stored in the system in both picture and data format. Users can then keep track of the payment history by exporting the file later. The receipt managing task is a big help for the accounting department in tax preparation and reimbursement procedures. Besides, since all the receipt data is well organized, it is easier for the Operations Team to consider which tasks need cutting off. It is useful for the Sales and Marketing Team to sit back and examine which marketing strategies are worth investing in.
Fintech and its growing trend
1. Fintech definition
We believe that many of our readers have heard the word “Fintech” many times. It has even become a famous term and topic, especially among people in the IT sector. However, according to Statista, 67% of the US population said that they had not heard about Fintech, 21% have heard the word somewhere, and only 16% have clearly heard and understood its meaning. Despite those low numbers, the industry is still growing fast. So what is Fintech, and why do people talk about it?
“Fintech” is a short form of Financial Technology. According to the World Bank, it is a recently-created term that describes the new trend in the Financial and Banking area that “employs new technologies to improve or innovate financial service”, according to the World Bank. All companies that use the internet, cell phones, cloud computing technology, and other open-source software to advance the efficiency of the Banking and Investment business, can benefit from Fintech.
We can divide Fintech companies into two groups:
- The first group is companies that focus on the end-users. Their main businesses provide digital tools that help improve the customer experience in borrowing, money managing, and start-up funding.
- The second group is companies that play the “back office” roles in supporting other financial institutions.
So, is the e-wallet function on the mobile application of a banking institution called Fintech? Unfortunately, the answer is no. It is just an application of IT in the banking area.
However, for example, if Shoeboxed develops and applies a new data security technology to the e-wallet application of a banking institution to provide convenience and safety to the customers, yes, it is Fintech.
2. Fintech services
Fintech is now providing services in different areas such as banking technology, payment, financial management, cryptocurrency, … with diverse services including
- Digital wallet (or e-wallet) – “a software-based system that securely stores users’ payment information and passwords for numerous payment methods and websites” (according to Investopedia). (Example: PayPal).
- Distributed ledger technology on a blockchain platform. A distributed ledger is a database that is distributed to more than one computer or node. Each node maintains a ledger, and the ledger will be updated if there are any changes in data. A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger where every node has its own copy of the ledger. When data changes happen, it will also update all copies of the ledger. (Example: Bitcoin).
- B2C e-commerce – online transactions between businesses and customers.
- mPOS – known as mPOS, a portable point of sale of a smartphone or tablet that acts as a register. This service is popular for businesses such as food trucks, convenience stores, supermarkets, etc. that allows the customers to complete payment transactions with just a touch.
Aside from the examples of Fintech products listed above, there are still a lot of services that might be a bit less popular such as:
- Peer-to-peer lending (abbreviated as P2P lending) – a website that allows users to borrow and lend money directly. The P2P lending website helps to connect the borrowers directly to investors. In exchange for that, they control the transaction by setting the fee, interest rate, and other terms of conditions.
- Crowdfunding – a platform that allows start-ups to sell some of their future products to potential investors. If start-ups can fund enough money, they can start their project right away, and vice versa, if the amount of money funded is not enough, start-ups will return them to investors.
- Personal finance – a different branch of P2P lending that collaborates with banks to give end-users insights and advice about their bankings.
- Data management
- Insurtech and so on
It is undeniable that Fintech has been encouraging a trend of entrepreneurship in Finance and Banking, the famous industries for their requirement of huge capital when joining the game. Thanks to this trend, a wide range of services are available in the market, yet the difficulties in management.
However, if wisely used, Fintech can bring several benefits such as:
- Improving customer satisfaction since the customers save time when completing a transaction
- Analyzing customer behavior easier than before with reliable recorded data
- Saving operating costs for business owners
- Setting limits on manual inaccuracies
Following the Industrial Revolution 4.0, and now at 5.0, many traditional financial institutions are changing their ways of approaching more customers by collaborating with Fintech companies. According to PwC, 82% of traditional financial institutions plan to increase collaboration with Fintech in 3 – 5 years to avoid losing revenue.
With the explanation of SaaS and Fintech mentioned above, can we say Fintech is a type of SaaS? Or can we position Fintech as Saas? Well, IT DEPENDS. We say “it depends” because they have a lot of similarities in their purposes, ecosystems, applications, and so on. Therefore, it depends on the ultimate goals of the companies and how they operate their business.
As you can see, Fintech companies provide a wide range of services but mainly in the Finance area, while SaaS applications are broadly provided in different areas. Since the ever-increasing number of available services can make users unsure of what to choose, SaaS, Fintech, and other traditional business platforms should consider collaborating to introduce better and more compact services. The nuances of SaaS and Fintech can be hard to keep straight, but the value they offer to the world economy and the development of technology means they are here to stay. Therefore understanding their nuances is essential to thriving in today’s economy.