FinTech and the future of financial services: What are the research gaps?
In our paper ‘FinTech and the future of financial services: What are the research gaps?’ we offer seven key research themes in the FinTech academic literature to provide a base for future scholarly work and policy decisions. We developed our research gaps based on a critical assessment of the literature and through focus meetings with policymakers and academics. If the key research gaps are addressed it would help FinTech become an established academic discipline. Our paper summaries and reviews over one hundred articles, book chapters and working papers on financial technology (FinTech) within almost all disciplines including economics, business and other social science disciplines, applied engineering and computer science. These summaries are structured according to the seven key research themes and may provide a viable reference point for further studies.
Our first research gap is ‘changing industrial structure and organisation of financial services’. There is limited work that investigates the process and structure of change in the financial industry arising from new technologies. Empirical and analytical frameworks for understanding these changes are lacking. Most studies focus on the short run without any detailed analysis in the medium and long run.
Our second research gap is ‘new forms of financial intermediation (alternative finance) such as loan-based and equity-based crowdfunding’. We split our analysis into equity-based crowd-funding and loan-based crowding. Many studies exist that uses the data from loan-based and equity-based crowdfunding to undertake a very specific topic. However, the research is loosely connected. In addition, there is no real work on how alternative finance is transforming business models.
‘Changing payments mechanisms including central bank digital currencies and the shift to a cashless society’ is the third research theme. Our analysis finds that there is some recent work on central bank digital currency. However, one major area lacking is fraud and financial crime.
‘Reaching vulnerable and excluded customers in both developed and developing countries’ is a key area of concern particularly for policy makers. It has been practically untouched in the academic literature. Our focus group meeting with policy makers revealed many key areas that they would like to see addressed. These include quantitative analysis into how to reduce the barriers to FinTech and how to achieve widespread usage.
The fifth research theme is ‘computation, artificial intelligence and large-scale data processing in finance’. From our analysis we argue that an area of key concern is the impact of AI on industry structure, governance and consumer perceptions.
‘The relationship between the new financial technologies and financial regulation’ is the sixth gap. We further divide this theme into the three key areas. The first is ‘FinTech and financial stability’. Central bankers and policy makers would certainly like more academic research in this area. There is limited but some studies by the central banks themselves. The second area is ‘policy and the role of government’. There is no empirical or quantitative analysis. Our third area is ‘RegTech’. We find there are some good law studies, but the area is untouched by other disciplines.
Our seventh theme is ‘identity, security, data privacy and their regulation in financial services.’ There is a considerable gap in studying government policy on establishing and protecting identity.
Our paper also includes a separate section summarising papers in the literature in ‘cryptofinance-radical-technology-based alternatives to conventional regulated financial services’. We do not consider this to be a research gap as it has received considerable study and in addition relates to cryptographic security to operate outside of the regulated industry.
Our goal was to provide guidance for coherent research agendas. Furthermore, by providing a summary of over 100 studies, we hope our paper will be useful for academics seeking a reliable overview of the key concepts in this area.