Measuring Fintech Investment

Measuring Fintech Investment

September 6, 2019
“If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.” - H. James Harrington

Trying to understand the latest trends in FinTech, and particularly in blockchain-based solutions, requires exactly the type of measurement that H. James Harrington referenced in his quote above. Yet measurement in this space can be particularly imprecise and often self-contradictory. A dive into some of this data though with a look past the headline numbers can guide us past some of the confusion and to at least some degree of understanding.

Fintech press articles — sometimes from industry journals that might not possess the greatest of resources for original research and fact-checking — often draw very strong conclusions from very specific figures. Plenty of recent reports mimic the tone of a South China Morning Post article headlined “Global fintech investments nosedive as Chinese fundraising falls sharply, report says” (14 Aug, 2019.) Meanwhile, there are numerous articles still telling the bull case. Why the seeming confusion, and where lies the truth?

First, it is important to note that there is no single definition of fintech, and hence measuring ‘fintech investment’ will necessarily be imprecise. Nor is this imprecision slight. As Chris Skinner pointed out in his blog article ‘Fintech’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics,’ there are massive differences in numbers even between large and seemingly reputable sources. KPMG measured total fintech investment in 2018 as US$111.8bln*. For the same year, Accenture claimed fintech investment was only US$55.3bln. Meanwhile, CB Insights came up with a figure of US$39.6bln. This is nearly a three-fold spread over this range.

Starting with such massive differences in measure it should not be surprising that the numbers offer seemingly different insights. It is not however fair to say that the measures are completely devoid of meaning. For example, all three sources showed fintech investment doubling between 2017 and 2018. While the exact amount of investment is unclear amidst loose definition and is certainly not worthy of overly precise digits behind the decimal place, the general trend of a massive uptake in investment (roughly double) seems both consistent and relevant. Clearly, fintech investment grew strongly over this time.

Beyond the issue of imprecise definitions, another factor clouding the summary numbers is the massive 2018 investment round for Ant Financial. Clocking in at roughly US$14bln, that single deal constituted somewhere between one eighth to as much as one third of global fintech investment for 2018. If we remove the Ant deal and use the same figures that the SCMP used in its ‘nosedive’ article, we find that global fintech investment actually increased by a strong 28% YoY in the first half. Regardless, their US figures show fintech investment climbing 60% over the same period.

Should we disregard the Ant deal? Of course not. Should we recognize that such mega-deals only occur infrequently and are not well-matched to annual measures? Of course yes. Looking for longer-term trends we can see that the early ’19 numbers still show strong growth over the ’17 spend and this year looks set to be second highest only after last year’s Ant-boosted total. The trend of investment, no matter by what definition, appears to remain firmly upwards.

To further validate this we can look past the investment to actual use. As one example take mobile payments in China, the most successful and trumpeted fintech advance. Even here sources differ in their measures, with official People’s Bank of China figures showing 2018 payments having grown to RMB277trln (NB — that is a T for Trillion) and other sources only** claiming on the order of RMB150trln. Early indications from formal sources back what can be seen informally on-the-ground in China — that the ease and convenience continues to draw all the more people to fintech solutions.

This all links back to a point made in an earlier version of this discussion. Ultimately it is user demand that will drive fintech innovation and adoption. So long as fintech better meets the users’ end investment needs it will succeed, and in that process will draw more investment. The numbers might seem confusing, and a few resulting press articles might sound negative, but spending just a few moments looking into these measures tells us that the investment trend is continuing to follow the adoption and use of fintech — moving ever higher.

* Note the precision of the post-decimal measure here. Many years ago when I was trained in physics one of our first lab lessons was that the degree of specificity to which we report a number should indicate the extent of the accuracy our measure conveys. In cases like this, it appears to provide more of a veneer of certainty than any indication of the true trustworthiness of the measure

** If you will allow the use of the word only in a discussion of hundreds of trillions of RMB

About Hex Trust

Hex Trust is the Asian leader in enterprise-grade custody for digital assets. Led by innovators from the institutional financial services space, Hex Trust has built a proprietary platform that delivers a modern custody solution for financial institutions, asset managers, and corporations to safely and efficiently operate in the blockchain ecosystem. ZeroKey(TM), a proprietary technology, enables seamless transacting and fast access to assets stored on multiple blockchains while maintaining the highest levels of security of cold storage solutions. As a registered Trust Company under the Hong Kong Trust Ordinance and holding a Trust or Company Service Provider (TCSP) license under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Hex Trust offers a truly end-to-end digital asset servicing solution. Visit www.hextrust.com to learn more.

Enquiries: media@hextrust.com
Homepage | LinkedIn | Twitter | Medium

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Download the PDF ⟩
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
More from Hex Trust
Important Milestones on the Ethereum Network 2024 Roadmap
January 9, 2024
Important Milestones on the Ethereum Network 2024 Roadmap
Ethereum's 2024 roadmap includes milestones like The Merge (PoW to PoS), The Surge (scalability), The Scourge (security), The Verge (user experience), The Purge (efficiency), and The Splurge (innovation). The upcoming Dencun upgrade aims to enhance functionality, security, and scalability.
Read More ⟩
Unlocking Institutional Interest: The Significance of Bitcoin ETFs in Traditional Finance
January 5, 2024
Unlocking Institutional Interest: The Significance of Bitcoin ETFs in Traditional Finance
Bitcoin ETFs simplify Bitcoin investment, trading on stock exchanges. How the involvement of financial giants may lead to approval. Global adoption signals trust and legitimacy. SEC reassessing. Potential regulatory shift.
Read More ⟩
Trading Places: The Rise of DEXs and The Way Forward for Centralized Crypto Exchanges
April 6, 2023
Trading Places: The Rise of DEXs and The Way Forward for Centralized Crypto Exchanges
The crypto industry’s large scale fallouts such as the FTX saga, may have led to the temporary loss of user trust and confidence, but it also did two things: unveil the true promise of decentralized exchanges, and provide important constructive lessons for the centralized exchanges that remain standing.
Read More ⟩
We use cookies, including third-party cookies, to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, you consent to the use of cookies. Learn more about cookies and how to control whether they are enabled. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Cookie preferences