Year of selection 2017
Institution SKEMA Business School, Paris
Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, open banking, smart contracts, robo-advisors, cybersecurity… Technological innovation in the financial sector (FinTech) is experiencing a boom and profoundly transforming the industry. In just a few short years, companies that provide FinTech have disrupted and started reshaping almost every financial services: commerce, payments, investment, insurance, asset management, and even money itself. « Given the speed at which the restructuring of the financial industry is taking place, it will pose severe socio-economic challenges and opportunities that need to be understood in order for society to be prepared », Dr. Marco Gazel stresses when explaining the objective behind his postdoctoral project. The researcher in Economics is conducting research on the FinTech ecosystem in Europe. More specifically, his aim is to address the dynamics in which FinTech clusters are built and to investigate the eco-system characteristics needed to support this emerging industry in the major European economies, namely France, Germany and the UK.
Fuelled by huge and increasing amounts of investment – $17.4 billion of venture capital investment in 2016 –, FinTech start-ups have started to change and will continue to deeply impact the financial industry. Once the realm of salesmen and desktops, financial products and services are now moving away from large, entrenched institutions and toward mobile devices. « According to the World Economic Forum of 2016 (WEF, 2016), digitalization and other recent technological developments such as smart systems and artificial intelligence will affect in many ways how the financial industry (among others) will operate in the future and which jobs will be destroyed, which ones newly created, and where they will be located », Dr. Marco Gazel reports. « One of the severe socio-economic challenges it will pose concerns needed recruitments and talent shortages, which in turn requires adaptations of our education system today to make individuals more flexible and adaptable to the changes to come. »
Understanding how and where FinTech ventures form
To help European countries be prepared for the fintech revolution, the research seeks to provide policy makers with a comprehensive and in-depth study of the changes already in motion and the ones to come. Dr. Gazel explains that « the project aims at understanding the formation of new fintech clusters and interaction of these startups among each other, as it affects where many jobs will be located in the future and the conditions necessary to develop a vibrant fintech industry ». Among the questions being asked are: what determines location of fintech startups? What is the investment behavior of VC funds investing in fintech? Are investments more likely to go to countries with weaker financial regulations? Which large, non-financial firms invest in fintech? How do they enter the market Which strategies do they follow? By comparing his results from three different countries and from different regions within these countries, Dr. Gazel will provide clues about the impact of financial systems’ regulation on the activity of fintech ventures and the necessary eco-system for their development. The output will also help identify and locate the main clusters for fintech in France, Germany and UK and monitor their evolution. « Another important ambition is to provide a classification for the different fintech sectors, which is still confusing in the literature », he adds.
Quoting the recent report from the WEF, Dr Gazel points out that « 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don't yet exist ». By seeking to gain further insights into what the employment landscape will soon look like in the financial industry, Dr Gazel’s research project addresses one of tomorrow’s biggest socio-economic challenges: the impact of technology on the future of jobs. His output will go a long way towards helping European countries evaluate and anticipe the risks related to these profound changes, making sure we can get the most out of them.