Which Areas of FinTech Suit You?
Clockwise from top left: Mr Isaac Hee (Managing Director, gradsingapore), Mr Laurence Franslay (Engineering Manager, PayPal), Mr Edmond Lam (Chief Information Officer, SouthEast Asia, L'Oréal) and Mr Alvin Kua (Senior Product Manager, Acronis)
Financial Technology (FinTech) was one of the biggest beneficiaries when a massive shift in consumer behaviour took place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the industry experienced their strongest user growth in the second quarter of 2020, recording billions of dollars’ worth of user transactions over numerous platforms.
But while the industry as a whole experienced growth, some areas saw massive expansions as consumer behaviour changed as a response to new norms such as staying home and contactless payments.
During Enginuity 2020, gradsingapore hosted a virtual Emerging Information Technology (IT) Trends & Their Impacts panel discussion with Mr Edmond Lam, Chief Information Officer, South East Asia at L’Oréal, Mr Laurence Franslay, Engineering Manager at PayPal Singapore and Mr Alvin Kua, Senior Product Manager at Acronis, to discuss the whys behind these booming Fintech sectors.
With enforced work from home (WFH) regulations and safe distancing measures generally keeping people sequestered at home for longer periods of time, consumer behaviour adjusted to the new norm at an alarming rate.
For instance, the habit of going out to pack food was superseded by food deliveries, and mall closures forced buyers to purchase necessities online. “There was a massive shift to e-commerce during Q2 2020, and we recorded the strongest user growth then,” Mr Franslay said.
To prove his point, according to iPrices’s Map of e-Commerce in Singapore, Shopee experienced a massive 82 per cent increase in monthly visits!
But before you dive into this area, make sure you have technical skills such as knowledge of data analytics and user experience (UX) design. Coding is a strength many employers look for too, as well as an understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO).
Online payment platforms and networks
Online payment spaces, such as PayPal, are benefitting from the surge to remote payment. However, while this move has resulted in convenience for the users, it has left merchants at an interesting quandary that offers a lot of opportunity.
Because merchants typically need to pay suppliers up front, and remote payment platforms usually take a couple of days to process payment, there is a disconnect. “This calls for the entire supply chain to make a fundamental move to the digital space, in order to reduce friction and allow money to flow,” Mr Lam said.
While data management is one of the skills employers often keep an eagle eye out for, strong knowledge in coding and computer languages, models and systems will definitely help sway them in your direction!
Online payment systems…moving offline
One of the more interesting developments that came out of the FinTech boom, online payment options that have been widely adopted, such as FaithPay and GrabPay, have begun adopting a hybrid system that blurs the line between online and offline usage. This initiative seeks to bridge the gap in payment processes in the off-chance that the internet experiences an outage.
“On top of bettering user experience in this area, there is the chance to have a hand in developing where this approach goes next, as there will definitely be opportunities to build these solutions!” Mr Franslay said.
Although technical skills in handling big data and analytics will impress employers, being adept with emerging digital technologies will thrill them even more. To seal the deal, demonstrate a strong understanding of programming languages, models and systems, alongside coding.
As long as users can make remote payments on devices and servers online, cybersecurity will never be far behind. Because making remote payments has by-and-large become the new norm, and will continue far into the foreseeable future, cybersecurity will have to keep abreast of developments, prepare for, and keep a keen eye out, for threats like grey- and black-hat hackers.
Unfortunately, there is a gap in this area, as according to Accenture, when the COVID-19 pandemic drove economies to work from home on a large scale, 68 per cent of business leaders felt their organisations were vulnerable to cyber-attack.
“This raises a lot of concerns from a cybersecurity perspective,” Mr Kua said. “Especially because a lot of mechanisms that have traditionally been put in place aren’t going to work anymore.”
According to the World Economic Forum, cybersecurity is now one of the top concerns world leaders share. However, as more and more companies continue to put greater emphasis in this area, certifications may be required.
On top of an aptitude for technology, skills that will stand you in good stead in this field is strong knowledge of cybersecurity across various platforms, as well as basic computer forensics. Less advertised, but highly sought-after, though, is an understanding of hacking, and how hackers work.
Soft skills needed
You shouldn’t neglect the soft skills you need on top of the various technical skills you’ll have to arm yourself with!
Strong self-motivation is a strength you’ll need in this field. A solid understanding of the business process, whether it is the cash flow or supply chain, is a large boon too, because you’ll be the facilitator between the technical side of things, the business and the consumer.
Teamwork is also common in the FinTech industry, and the drive to keep learning is crucial. Work in the sector is becoming increasingly flexible, and taking on tasks outside of your official job scope is becoming a rule rather than an exception.
Communication and interpersonal skills are another essential skill to develop. With remote working set to remain the norm, strong skills in this area can mean the difference between getting your ideas across without the help of a whiteboard and holding a successful meeting, no matter if the other person is with you physically, or connecting with you virtually.