Key players in the financial services industry are optimistic about the year ahead, according to a new ‘State of the Industry’ report from Barclays Corporate Banking, Alive to Opportunity. The research from the bank also highlights regional differences in approaches to regulation, expectations for payment innovation and confidence in cybersecurity.
As the official insights partner of last year’s Money 20/20 global conference series, Barclays conducted a survey of over 200 financial services leaders from across EMEA, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. From these senior executives, Barclays Corporate Banking found that optimism in the sector is high as it enters into 2021.
Whilst recovery from Covid-19 might be seen as a likely top priority for the coming year, it came in second place when respondents were asked what they would be focussing most on during 2021 – with 42% of leaders selecting it. Top spot instead went to ensuring business growth, with nearly three in five (57%) respondents picking it as their main area of concentration.
Phil Bowkley, Global Head of Financial Institutions Group, Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Given that 2020 was such a tumultuous year, it is encouraging to hear fintech businesses are confident and focused on future growth. Many firms have grasped the upheaval of the global pandemic as an opportunity. Covid-19 has driven a huge surge in e-commerce and cross-border business. This has significantly increased flows across FinTech payment providers, which have worked hard to enable cross-border trade, payments and e-commerce. At the same time, the industry has been collaborating with banks to ensure much-needed financial support from government flows to the real economy.”
Regions Back Themselves on Innovation
In a continuation of a trend seen in 2019, respondents often rated their own region as the most likely source of future innovation. This ‘home’ bias was particularly strong in Asia-Pacific, where China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia together claimed over 83% of regional votes when considering the key sources of innovation over the next five years.
However, China’s reign as the most likely site of financial services innovation did not continue from 2019, with Barclays’ most recent survey showing that nearly one in four (24%) key industry leaders now view the United States as the most probable location for the rise of payment innovation over the next five years.
A Shift Eastwards for Open Banking?
Barclays’ research also suggests that Asia-Pacific may be the new focal point for expectations around Open Banking, with interest from Europe dropping year-on-year.
In 2019’s report, the impact of this key regulation was anticipated to be strongest in Europe – however, this time around just 38% of EMEA leaders now expect Open Banking to have a big impact on their business. By contrast, the majority (59%) of senior respondents from Asia-Pacific feel that the regulation will be key for their companies as we move into the remainder of 2021.
Security and Resilience in a Post-Covid world
Firms’ confidence in their own cybersecurity dropped by 5% versus 2019, with less than half of respondents (42%) feeling satisfied with their business’ approach to the issue. Businesses in EMEA feel least confident about their security provisions, with one in three (33%) indicating that their own cybersecurity needs further investment.
The importance of resilience to customers was also a theme that many felt would rise in significance in 2020, given the recent growth in remote working as a response to Covid-19 – however just 5% of respondents viewed this issue as important when considering customer loyalty.
Steve Lappin, Managing Director, Barclaycard Business, said: “From remote working to e-commerce, coronavirus has meant that digital channels play a much greater role in working life. While this has undoubtedly presented new opportunities, it has also put additional pressure on infrastructure and heightened potential vulnerability to attacks. Therefore, it’s not surprising that confidence in cybersecurity has dropped, with many firms feeling that their rapid adoption of these new channels has left governance and control lagging behind. It’s critical that businesses remain vigilant – security may not be a key driver of customer loyalty, but cybersecurity issues are definitely a driver of disloyalty.”