Chris Skinner is one of the most respected voices in fintech, and his insights are highly sought after by those in the industry.
As a financial technology expert with over three decades of experience in the sector, he has always been a forward thinker, even before the word ‘fintech’ was coined. He is a pioneer and has continued to be a thought leader and innovator in the field.
In this interview, Chris Skinner shares his insights on the current state of fintech, its future, and how businesses and individuals can be successful in this rapidly changing landscape.
Read on for Chris Skinner’s valuable insights on fintech, and be sure to check out his blog, The Finanser.
Chris Skinner (Full Q&A Interview)
Q: What made you want to get involved in fintech?
A: I started my career years ago when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. My job was programming in COBOL, BASIC and PL/1. Then I moved into delivering technology to the financial services industry. So fintech was, and is, in my veins, and I’ve been in this space probably longer than most other people. But, back then, it wasn’t called fintech. It was just technology in finance.
Q: So, when did it become fintech?
A: It became fintech in the mid-2000s, and particularly when cloud and the smartphone network appeared. Sure, there maybe have been fintechs before that – PayPal being a case in point – but the real drive towards the fintech market we have today came from the evolution of technologies to create new markets in the 2000s.
Q: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for the industry moving forward?
A: The industry has so far focused upon solving things that banks do badly. The opportunity is to focus upon things that banks don’t do. Rather than developing things that banks do today – credit, loans, savings, investments, payments, transactions – why not focus upon what banks don’t do – financial inclusion, education, serving the unserved and more. That’s where I see the biggest opening.
Q: What inspired you to write your latest book?
A: I didn’t realise until recently how much the financial industry is immersed in climate exposures. The more I spent looking into that space, the more I realised that the fintech start-up world, combined with the financial world, could change that. So the inspiration is mainly around a question of how can we bring finance and technology together to solve our future climate issues. That’s why it’s called Digital for Good, and it’s also why I chose not to write it from my view but to curate the views from many colleagues around the world. The book has over twenty chapters and many are written by leading thinkers from banks, fintechs and the climate emergency community. I’m very proud of it.
Q: If there was one piece of wisdom you could share with our fintech readers, what would it be?
A: My advice to fintechs is either solve what banks do badly or invent something banks don’t do.
Q: Why is it so important now more than ever to focus on being purpose-driven?
A: Banks are seen as faceless organisations who don’t care about the world, society, the community or the customer. I’ve heard that discussion for years, but the fintech world has changed this. The reason is that most fintechs are being founded and run by young people with vision. These people care about the world, society, the community and the customer. That’s the difference. They are not faceless; they are very human and, being human, they have a clear purpose to do good for society and the planet, as well as making profit. I call it stakeholder capitalism, and think this is the new form of 21st century commerce replacing shareholder capitalism. Business is not just here to make profits; it’s here to improve life.
Q: What excites you the most in the field of financial technology right now? And how do you anticipate things to play out by 2030?
A: I made a blog entry the other day about life in 2030 [see https://thefinanser.com/2022/03/11-realities-of-2030.html/] and am most excited about decentralised finance – DeFi for short – and what that means. This brings together all the things around cryptocurrencies and technology with finance. It is fascinating to watch.
Q: Please summarise your life in three words.
A: Weird, wild and wonderful.
Q: What is next for you in the coming 24 months?
A: More writing and I’m hoping that my children’s books take off in a big way. If you haven’t heard of Captain Cake and the Candy Crew well, where were you?
Q: Last, what is the one thing you want everyone to know about Chris Skinner?
A: I’m one of the good guys.