No one ever saw the coming of the seismic shift that was caused by the CoronaVirus. One thing that a number of us predicted correctly as we ushered 2020 was the increased focus by Policy Makers and Regulators on Big Tech and Fintech.
Boy, were we on the mark! From Alibaba’s Ant Group about to hit the reset button courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party to America’s Big Tech antitrust woes, stuff really hit the fan. Not a moment’s boredom.
As we enter the second month of the 2nd quarter what’s your 2021 shaping to look like?
Here are my predictions for the rest of the year.
- IOT will finally enter mainstream usage at scale. Companies like Schneider Electric with their industry leading tech will become even more interesting. How will this affect the banking sector? IOT will make access to data for credit risk assessment easier to access. Technologies such as device-to-device communication protocols and sensor implementation will allow asset management companies access relevant data across fields such as retail, agriculture for enhanced decision making.
- We’ve seen a concerted Global Backlash against Big Tech. First by governments and now by consumers. Techlash will now enter the mainstream lexicon. Techlash is the term first coined by The Economist to describe this new phenomenon. The Oxford English Dictionary defined the word as “A strong and widespread negative reaction to the growing power and influence of large technology companies, particularly those based in Silicon Valley.”
- Digital Transformation will accelerate. Because of COVID-19 in 2020 it will become mainstream. Industries like Media, that have already been decimated by forces like Big Tech, will accelerate their transformation or die. We are already seeing the effects of that across Africa as tech startups, especially in the Fintech space, are raising humongous amounts of money to upend the hegemony of the incumbents. Players like Flutterwave and Interswitch are now more valuable than many banks on the continent.
- The pace of consolidation in the tech industry will slow down as policy makers and regulators come to terms with the clear and present danger of too much economic power in industries controlled by a handful of private capitalists. We are already seeing this play out in America where the Justice Department has frustrated the acquisition of Plaid (a financial services company based in San Francisco, California. The company builds a data transfer network that powers fintech and digital finance products) by Visa Inc, an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Foster City, California, United States. It facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world, most commonly through Visa-branded credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards
- As regulation becomes ubiquitous, companies, large and small, will learn to live with it and even thrive. There is no choice in this as you will either have a seat at the table or be on the menu.
- From a purely African perspective we will see an increased number of smartphone users coming online driven by cheaper smartphones and the Use Now Pay Later phenomenon that Telcos are using in partnership with various players including Google. This will drive more usage of services like digital banking and eCommerce.
- From a business perspective, more SMEs will adopt Work From Home options driving further the adoption of technologies like Employee Productivity Tools that include virtual meeting platforms. Enter the tech-enabled workspace.
- Last but not least Government is in on the game. From Digital Taxes that have become the rage the world over to more enhanced and digitally enabled Government to Citizen communication. This is manifesting itself more through the introduction and in some cases expansion of government services via eCitizen Portals, digital IDs and taxation.