Fintech and Insurtech. If until some years ago these anglicisms were unknown terms, today’s reality is different: in Italy there are already 11 million users who have tried at least one of these digital innovation services applied to the financial and insurance system. This is a considerable percentage, equal to around one in four Italians aged between 18 and 74, and above all growing quickly (+ 54%) compared to a year ago. These are the figures of the latest report by the Fintech and Insurtech Observatory of the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnic, created with Nielsen Italia.
The survey shows that Internet users mainly use Mobile Payment (16%), services to manage their personal or family budget (15%) or for instant money transfers between individuals (12%). But this type of innovation is also within the reach of companies: 55% of Italian SMEs already interact with financial institutions through an app, while 92% do it through a PC. A good result, though improvable, as highlighted by the fact that alternative financing methods are still little known: the Minibonds are known only to 33% of the sample, P2P lending at 24%, Crowdfunding at 20% and 12% Supply Chain Finance. Their use is also very limited, with only 5% of the sample using at least one of these services. The main difficulty experienced by small and medium-sized enterprises is access to information and advice, indicated by 36% of the companies interviewed.
It is clear that the attitude to these types of services also depends on the age of the users. The majority of Italians would turn to banks (65%) and postal operators (56%) to entrust their savings, but in the case of young people between the ages of 16 and 24, preferences are 53% and 52%, which rises to 67% and 59% in the case of over 55s.
Mobile Payment (16%) is used especially, then budget management services (15%) and instant money transfer services (12%)”
“The digital world is revolutionizing the Italian financial ecosystem», according to Marco Giorgino, scientific director of the Fintech & Insurtech Observatory, «favoring the emergence of innovative actors, bringing out new customer needs and new forms of relationships between users, companies, institutes financial and insurance. Banks and insurance companies can respond to the challenges of digital transformation by putting innovation at the center of strategies and focusing on constant collaboration with other actors ».
The Observatory also focuses on the Robo Advisors, the digital financial advice tool based on mathematical formulas or algorithms. According to the report, there are 147 such platforms globally, with a novelty: "In the last year Robo Advisor is reversing the trend that provided for fully automated platforms, while increasing the presence of a human representative to drive or control of automation », says Laura Grassi, deputy director of the Fintech & Insurtech Observatory, «it is important for the customer to know that the systems are not simply black boxes, but supervised by an expert manager ».
The use of Robo Advisors increases, but there’s something new: less fully automated platforms, more human referrals
Another focus is on blockchain and distributed ledger and their banking implications: there are 275 services based on these technologies promoted by financial institutions in the past three years The principle applications of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies deal with the management of payments (41%), the capital market (27%) and data and financial documentation.
"Even Italian financial institutions and insurance companies are starting to invest in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies", says Valeria Portale, director of the Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Observatory, "both participating in system solutions and individual projects. There are still actors 'skeptical' on the benefits, but they are less numerous than the 'pragmatists' who invest in areas already aware of greater opportunities and 'leaders' who constantly increase their efforts and investments to take advantage of the benefits of Blockchain ».
The Italian framework is part of a worldwide context equally investigated by the Observatory. The most impressive number includes 1,210 Fintech and Insurtech startups born after 2013 that have received at least a million dollars in funding in the last two years, for a total of 43.7 billion collected. The growth of this figure compared to the two previous years is 66% in the number of startups and 70% for investments.
Italy is still far from realities like the US (14 billion collected) or China (13.49), but it is still growing: eight startups have exceeded the threshold of one million dollars of loans received, for 44 million dollars total (against 20 of the previous census). "We did not expect such an important growth yet," explains Filippo Renga, director of the Fintech & Insurtech Observatory. "Furthermore, we are not only witnessing an increasing collaboration between established players and startups, but also an ever-increasing desire to find new innovative and integrated business models".