Digital disruption has hit retail financial services in Asia Pacific (AP). In 2014, fintech investments in AP totaled US$880 million and skyrocketed to a staggering US$4.5 billion last year. Just as payments innovation has been a darling of venture capital investors in the US, the picture is not so different in AP as payments took the largest share of fintech investment deals at 40%. This is followed by lending at 25%. However, the next frontier of disruption doesn't lie in payments and lending. FF16, AP's first fintech competition, featured an array of fintech finalists offering a wide array of capabilities that signal what is to come in digital disruption in financial services.
We observe that the next frontier of digital disruption for the financial services sector will take place in investment, security and authentication as:
Data access, predictive analytics, and machine learning drive investment innovation. Exploding volumes of data are driving new, disruptive products and services in retail financial services. While predictive analytics isn't new, it has now entered the mass market, becoming more ubiquitous to retial investors. Smaller, nimbler players such as 8 Securities are now using algorithms to help customers derive insights from data, making predictive analytics more affordable and accessible. There are also B2B fintech companies such as BondIT and ShereIT that help financial advisors and brokers maximize their clients' portfolios.
Last week, Courion announced its acquisition of Nova Scotia-based SecureReset, which, through its QuickFactor product, provides mobile-based two-factor authentication (2FA). This is the fourth acquisition of a 2FA startup by an enterprise software vendor in 2015:
· Twilio acquired Authy, February 2015 (purchase price N/A).
· Salesforce acquired Toopher, April 2015 (purchase price N/A).
· Micro Focus acquired Authasas, July 2015 (purchase price N/A).
· Courion acquired SecureReset, November 2015 (purchase price N/A).
These acquisitions reflect ongoing enterprise demand for 2FA solutions as an alternative to passwords. By now, the problems with passwords are well-known: They are easy for hackers to steal in bulk, and ongoing advances in computing processing power have eroded password security.
Since a password-free world is still somewhere off in the future, two-factor authentication provides a compelling password alternative that can help mitigate security risks. The evolution toward software-based 2FA form factors running on smartphones instead of dedicated single-purpose hardware tokens has eased deployment and training costs; it has also enabled large-scale consumer deployments of two-factor authentication as a password replacement alternative. These 2015 acquisitions demonstrate the continued interest in two-factor authentication.