Digitalization has permeated every aspect of life in recent years, and the finance sector is no exception. Today, both service providers and users have access to a plethora of digital services, ranging from super-apps and sustainable financial products to AI-driven security. These trends paint a picture of a future where financial transactions are faster, easier, and more secure, while also emphasizing ethical responsibility and sustainability.
In this article, we take a look at the most important trends and innovations in the digital finance sector, shedding light on the changes consumers and businesses can expect in the coming months and years.
Although not a brand-new invention, super-apps continue to reshape the face of the financial industry in 2023. Imagine an app that handles not just your banking, but also offers:
This means users no longer need a separate app for each service; a super-app can meet all your financial needs. These all-in-one platforms offer immense user-friendliness and could very well be the future of financial services.
Moving data and services to the cloud is not only cost-efficient but also agile. Banks and financial service providers can quickly adapt to market changes.
For end-users, this means a seamless, secure, and often more affordable experience. With cloud technology, financial service providers can also offer better analytics tools to assist customers in managing their finances.
Gone are the days when you had to visit a branch for business banking. Digital business banking provides everything users need—conveniently from their smartphone or computer.
Whether it's payments, invoicing, or financial analysis, everything is just a click away. For entrepreneurs opening a digital business account, this translates into significant time savings and more efficient financial management.
What has been evident for some time will intensify in the near future; digital banking providers will increasingly replace traditional banking solutions, inevitably pushing out older providers if they don't adapt swiftly.
Imagine buying a car and securing financing for it within the same app. Embedded Finance makes this possible by integrating financial services directly into non-financial apps, creating a seamless experience for you and opening entirely new ways and locations where financial products can be offered.
Banxware offers a solution for this, allowing platforms to offer their merchants instant digital financing. Banxware is simply integrated into existing infrastructure, making the entire financing process easier for users.
For instance, customers of the all-in-one financial platform Qonto can apply for their business loans directly through Banxware within the Qonto App.
Sustainable Finance goes far beyond merely investing money in "green" or "social" projects. It's a broad movement within the financial industry aimed at integrating long-term environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals into financial decisions. Sustainable financial products have multiplied in recent years, offering customers a wide range of options for responsibly investing and managing their money.
It's a win-win situation: Customers invest in a more progressive world while simultaneously creating financial value. In a time when social and environmental challenges are becoming increasingly urgent, Sustainable Finance allows each individual to be part of the solution.
Advances in artificial intelligence have the potential to significantly improve security in the finance sector. AI technologies already play a crucial role in identifying and thwarting attempts at fraud and cyberattacks. Machine learning algorithms can detect patterns in large datasets that often go unnoticed by the human eye. This enables the real-time identification of suspicious activities, such as unusually high withdrawals or transactions from risky geographic areas.
These algorithms continuously learn and adapt to new fraud methods. This means the systems become smarter with every transaction they monitor. Users benefit from this elevated level of protection, often without even realizing it. They are only notified when there is actually suspicious activity that requires their attention, minimizing both the risk of fraud and the frequency of false alarms.
The digital transformation in the finance sector is bringing not just comfort and efficiency, but also new ethical standards. Technologies like super-apps and Embedded Finance are revolutionizing how we handle money, while sustainable financial products sharpen our ethical awareness. Cloud technology and AI simultaneously increase system security.
These developments point toward an increasingly interconnected and responsible financial world. In this rapidly changing landscape, striking a balance between technological innovation and ethical responsibility, along with a holistic view of banking and financing, will be crucial for the long-term success of both businesses and financial service providers alike.
Shopify Capital sees a 36% growth in shops in the US that have received financing through them. SMEs with short-term financing grow 2.2 times faster compared to companies without financing, as Rabobank found. At Banxware, we experience growth of up to 500% in companies that use recurring financing through Banxware.
Our partner Qonto is now launching a financing platform to offer such financing deals to even more small and medium-sized German companies. By the means of digital, customized solutions, SMEs can better meet their financing needs and achieve their long-term goals.
Qonto, the European financial solution for SMEs and freelancers, has now opened a new financing platform that supports Qonto customers in the German market to invest in the growth of their businesses with suitable financing offers. Qonto customers have seamless access to offers from various partners - whose financing products are directly accessible via the platform. At the launch of the platform, Qonto is bringing Banxware, Defacto, and Silvr on board as its first partners. The financing offers provided are specifically tailored to the needs of SMEs and can be accessed easily, securely, and directly via the platform. Qonto customers thus not only get access to financing offers to continue growing, but also save a lot of time thanks to a seamless process without bureaucratic hurdles.
"Our mission at Qonto is to support small and medium-sized businesses in growing quickly, but also healthily," says Lukas Zörner, VP Germany at Qonto. "The launch of our financing platform allows us to offer our customers financing products tailored to their individual financial needs in the future. We are very pleased to have Banxware, Defacto, and Silvr as our first strong partners on board."
And Miriam Wohlfarth emphasizes: "Through our partnership with Qonto, we are opening up completely new opportunities for companies for seamless financial services. Together, we are redefining the growth opportunities of modern companies. The collaboration is a sign of our combined innovative power, and we are looking forward to rethinking financing solutions."
The strong partnership with Banxware, Defacto, and Silvr demonstrates Qonto's commitment to offering innovative solutions to revolutionize financing opportunities for modern businesses. Qonto supports SMEs in Germany in getting the financing they need to be successful and achieve their long-term goals.
The key to success lies in the cutting-edge solution Embedded Lending. Together, the Dutch bank and Banxware have devised a powerful mechanism that seamlessly integrates with popular digital business platforms.
Banxware and Rabobank are both very complimentary. From now on both companies cooperate in Sales and Business Development: While Banxware is an established and striving embedded lending player in Germany, Rabobank is the leading provider of embedded lending in the Dutch market. Together, they can already cover two big markets and potentially more in the future, serving platforms that want to roll out internationally. However, the two companies not only have many parallels on the business side, but also when it comes to cultural fit and even more, technology. One example of how they synergize regards data expertise. Rabobank is remarkably strong on risk management and reading bank account transaction with their own product credit estimate. Meanwhile, Banxware is particularly experienced with e-commerce data, which they accessed and analyzed through their own APIs. By joining forces, they have a wealth of new data sources at their disposal to better serve these SMEs in a wider range of Europe.
To continue doing what they do best: Providing lending solutions targeted towards SMEs, to run and grow their business. Rabobank was quick to recognize and adapt to the shift to digital commerce and platform trends in the SME sector in the early days. The Durch financial institute understood that credit options must be offered exactly where sales are generated- in marketplaces, payment- and accounting systems. The joint mission is to provide simple, straightforward loans to SMEs and by doing so serving as a strategic partner, so SMEs can focus on running their own business.
The partnership will enable entrepreneurs to access the short-term financing they need, easily and responsibly. Applying for a loan can be as quick as 15 minutes, and after approval the cash can be in the entrepreneur’s bank account within 24 hours. Managing the finances is made easy, with flexible repayments and an insightful dashboard.
Thomas Horn, Lead Strategy Embedded Lending, at Rabobank says: “Making short-term financing more accessible allows SMEs, and the economy at large, to flourish. A recent analysis showed that SMEs with short-term financing grow 2.2 times faster than those without. Over many years we have built a reliable model to determine credit worthiness, proving that accessibility and due diligence don’t have to be at odds with each other.”
Miriam Wohlfarth, CEO at Banxware explains: “This partnership brings Embedded Financing products tailored to the needs of SMEs to popular business platforms. Together with Rabobank we now provide the full financing supply chain, including funds and end-to-end loan management to bridge cash flow shortfalls before they become an issue. I am very proud that Banxware is taking the first step towards internationalization in cooperation with a trusted partner like Rabobank”.
There are big ambitions to go live over the summer with two to three established platforms in the Netherlands. Put together, there are about twenty relevant business platforms in Germany and the Netherlands, already in the pipeline. Also, the joint solution is an international solution, for platforms with an international userbase or ambitions to expand. The plan is that at the end of the day, all involved recognize the value and benefit from it: The bank, the fintech and most importantly the SME.
When looking at embedded banking features, the hierarchy of possibilities almost resembles a pyramid.
At its base level, you find accounts. Accounts are the fundamental unit of banking. Every embedded finance journey starts with them.
For one, accounts are a place to store money. But they are also a place where data lives. Data which can be leveraged to build banking experiences that can drive revenue for your business, keep your customers engaged with your product, and deliver a speedy and fair experience that delights users.
Let’s take a look at how you can build up to a fully textured suite of financial features by working with embedded bank accounts. These complementary products leverage data at each step of the value chain to deliver ever greater benefit for end users.
By starting with accounts, you can put together an ecosystem of embedded banking products that features the ultimate cherry-on-top: data-driven lending that delivers cash to end users at their point of need on favorable terms.
On the flip side, it also works quite well to start with an embedded lending product suited for a given context and then move onto payments thereafter. There really are numerous ways to play the embedded finance game!
Many companies have taken advantage of embedded finance to offer banking accounts to their customers. Financial management software companies, which often are already integrated into key finance workflows, have been some of the most enthusiastic adopters of embedded banking.
Pennylane, one of Swan’s long-time partners, began their journey by offering customers an interface to view invoices. But quite quickly, they understood that to build a defensible and robust offering, they needed to embed real deal financial capabilities.
They worked with us to develop a digital wallet product, whereby a Swan bank account is opened on behalf of their customer. The account is topped up by the end user and is used to pay invoices that previously were available as ‘read-only’, so to say.
Certainly, the primary benefit of accounts for a financial management company like Pennylane lies in providing a place to store money and then subsequently make easy payments. But, from a product perspective, the embedding of accounts into the customer experience also unlocks access to data (balances, money in/out, who is getting paid and when, etc.) which can be put to work as the foundation for further embedded finance experiences.
Embedding accounts within your platform is important for providing greater user functionality as well as gaining more insight into valuable customer data. That said, API-driven payment orchestration is exponentially more powerful for you as the provider and for your customer, too.
In a study, consulting firm EY calculated that payments through embedded channels reached $2.5 trillion in 2021 and is estimated to reach $6.5 trillion in 2025. This presents a huge opportunity!
If we think about one of the other archetypal use cases, such as branded cards for corporate expense management, the ability to execute payments is a game changer for many users. Instead of having to front and then report every purchase, employees need to simply pull out their dedicated corporate card and buy whatever they need. All reconciliation and tracking is done in the background, via a series of API requests.
The capturing and then making use of data is also simplified tremendously. Everything — value of transaction, vendor ID, time of day, etc. — is tracked and neatly organized into the company’s system of record.
With embedded accounts and payment capabilities, you now have a treasure trove of data as well as insights into how your users move and store their money. You know what their average monthly balance is, with which vendor they spend the most amount of money, and much more relevant information.
With this data, generated from banking features you embedded into your product, you have an excellent basis on which you can build an amazing embedded lending experience. One that is fast, fair, and tailored particularly to the customer’s needs by relying on existing financial data on the platform.
Banxware, a leading provider of embedded lending solutions for platforms, has successfully shown how companies can embed financing into their product suites by leveraging key financial data.
The embedded lending company works with platforms like Payment Service Providers (PSPs), Marketplaces, Finance Management Providers, and eCommerce shop systems. One of Banxware’s customers is Payone, a leading German PSP. As an example of how Banxware works, merchants using Payone to accept payments can also access business loans through the PSP. The financing is underwritten using the data Payone seamlessly collects when capturing payments on behalf of the vendor. This results in fairer terms for the business and better risk assessment for Banxware, because the insight into the company’s cash flow position is far more granular and precise than through traditional financing processes.
Moreover, both Swan and Banxware partner with Agicap, a leading European cash flow management solution. With Swan, the company embeds bank accounts and the capability to pay business invoices. In collaboration with Banxware, Agicap offers a financing product that enables customers to receive a cash advance on future revenues. The terms of this short-term loan are influenced by the financial data drawn from the embedded accounts of customers. If the business has a low average balance or is consistently spending more than it is taking in, as an example, the financing terms are adjusted accordingly.
The next generation of lending experiences is being powered by embedded financial data. Our world, especially that around our finances, is more technologically interconnected by technology than ever before. Consumers and businesses alike are insisting on doing their banking ever closer to their point-of-need. Fintechs and other companies will need to find ways to stack (embedded) financial services on top of each other to ensure excellent user experiences.
From our perspective, the future of banking is indeed bright. The flexibility and capabilities of providers like Swan and Banxware will only increase and, with it, the opportunities to capitalize on users’ financial data by offering them financial services that are fast, secure, and deliver an amazing user experience!
Specials thanks to David Frei and Max Cuttler from Swan for creating this blog post.
Want to know more? Watch our chat with David Frei, Head of DACH @ Swan and Fabian Heiß, Co-Founder/CPO @ Banxware chat about the opportunities in embedded payments and lending, go-to market challenges, and the future of embedded financial services layering data to create contextualized user experiences.
The introduction of the PSD2 directive and the opening of bank interfaces laid the foundation for the digitization of financial products. However, banks still struggle to transition their processes into digital and efficient models. As a result, a significant market of small and medium-sized enterprises remains untapped, as manual processes are too cumbersome and costly for smaller loans. Additionally, young companies are excluded from the loan offerings of most banks due to risk factors.
Embedded finance providers are entering precisely this gap and creating new opportunities. Companies and platforms that are used daily by customers can offer financing options through them, while technology and capital providers remain in the background with white-label or co-branding products, putting the platform with which the customer already interacts in the foreground.
Anyone who has ever applied for a loan from their bank knows the lengthy process involved. Traditional banks struggle with time-consuming and costly processes when it comes to loan approvals. Not least, this makes loans to small and medium-sized enterprises unattractive for many banks. Increased lending requirements and extended documentation obligations make it difficult for SMEs to obtain fast and affordable financing. Many of these businesses rely on bank financing. If such financing is no longer available or only available under unfavorable conditions, they have to seek alternative funding.
Alternative lenders have filled the gap that banks have failed to serve. Many SMEs have successfully applied for and received financing from these providers. Now, the loan offerings of banks and alternative providers face competition from platforms that are regularly used by customers. Through embedded finance providers, an e-commerce marketplace like Amazon, Zalando, or eBay, a payment provider like Payone, Telecash, Unzer, VR Payments, a software provider like Shopify or SAP, restaurant platforms like Lieferando, or point-of-sale system operators like Orderbird, advertising platforms like Google and Facebook, etc., can suddenly offer financing options to their business customers, particularly based on their sales data on that platform. And this has significant advantages for platforms. Not only do they receive a commission for facilitated loans from the embedded finance providers or capital providers, but loan approvals are the most powerful customer retention strategy there is.
Such financing options are in high demand. In the USA, pioneers such as Amazon, Stripe, Square, and Shopify can be recognized, mainly offering revenue-based financing and being exempt from regulation. According to a study by the Federal Reserve, these forms of financing are already the most common type of SME financing, accounting for over 10% of it.
The integration of embedded finance allows customers to stay in their familiar platform environment while still accessing financing options. Loan decisions and disbursements can now be made entirely digital and within minutes. Platforms utilize embedded finance providers and can organize themselves through banking-as-a-service without needing their own license.
Banks are faced with the challenge of adapting to these new conditions. Instead of competing with alternative providers, banks can benefit from collaboration. By utilizing the white-label technology of embedded finance providers, banks can improve and offer their own loan offerings as if they were neobanks. This allows them to build and maintain customer relationships that may not meet the typical criteria of banks.
For the customer – as they don't have to leave their familiar environment of a known platform and can receive a loan decision quickly and conveniently based on recent performance.
For the platform – as they gain an additional customer retention strategy that brings real value to the customer.
For the bank – as they can acquire or retain customers who would have otherwise switched to third-party providers or not become bank customers, potentially resulting in loss for the bank.
The future of lending, especially to SMEs, is shifting from traditional banks to platforms with which businesses already have a close business relationship. Banks need to adapt by partnering with embedded finance providers to serve these customer segments and provide a similar customer experience as neobanks – fast, dynamic, and convenient. In the near future, at least in the SME segment, one of the domains of a bank, lending to businesses, will be primarily conducted through platforms with which customers already have a close business relationship. They will source their financing where they sell their goods, through their sales channels, or their payment providers.
Digitization and the integration of financial services into existing platforms offer new opportunities for borrowers and platform operators. It remains exciting to observe how the market develops and how banks, alternative lenders, and platforms continue to collaborate to meet customer needs and revolutionize the lending landscape. However, a collaboration with embedded finance providers allows banks to continue serving this target group and offer customers a significantly better customer experience.
The financial industry has undergone significant changes in the past two decades, greatly altering the understanding and tasks within the sector. However, compared to what is on the horizon, these changes were merely a prelude. Embedded finance is the driving force behind this transformation and could potentially cause banks to completely lose their traditional role.
Change is the only constant in the universe, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said. This applies to nearly every economic sector, including the manufacturing industry, which is currently undergoing its fourth revolution: following the steam engine, mass production, and electronics, digitalization has taken center stage. The financial industry, too, is not immune to such changes, even though suitable buzzwords have been lacking. Few have spoken of "Finance 4.0."
Unjustly so, because since the turn of the millennium, our sector has regularly witnessed fundamental changes. After the era of traditional banking, at least two revolutions have followed. And now, another significant change is on the horizon: embedded financial services. This market could potentially reach several hundred billion US dollars in the near future. For customers, this means greater convenience in dealing with financial services, while companies engage in a competition for favorable positions in the new financial world.
The leap to Finance 2.0 occurred around the turn of the millennium. At that time, the primary focus was on simplifying processes by digitizing them. PayPal is a well-known example. Companies, particularly in the payment sector, demonstrated that there was no longer a need for banks to facilitate payments. Online payment became much easier.
The next revolution, known as "unbundling," began around 2013. Fintech companies drove this trend by focusing on specific subsectors where they outperformed the generalists of the traditional financial world. This led to the emergence of neobanks, which focused on current accounts and credit cards, neobrokers that offered stock trading through apps, and financial service providers that facilitated credit transactions for both consumers and businesses. Consumers realized that they were not necessarily dependent on established banks to borrow, manage, or invest money.
These two revolutions did not mark the end of the story but merely laid the groundwork for what is happening now. Embedded financial services already generate around 43 billion US dollars in revenue today. By 2025, this market could grow to 230 billion US dollars, and business consultant Simon Torrance predicts a market value of seven trillion US dollars by 2030. The current boom of "Buy Now, Pay Later" is only the beginning.
At its core, embedded finance means that any company can offer financial services, regardless of a banking license or experience in this field. In practice, this could mean applying for a loan with Amazon when purchasing a television, opening a current account with DM (a retail store), or taking out comprehensive insurance with BMW when buying a car.
The boundaries between the financial industry and other sectors are increasingly blurred. This is made possible by the increased use of APIs, open banking, and the emergence of banking-as-a-service (BaaS).
Unlike previous models, such as the captive finance companies through which Volkswagen or Daimler handle their vehicle leasing business, companies no longer require a banking license to provide such offerings, thanks to BaaS.
Customers benefit from increased convenience. With larger purchases, they can obtain financing directly from the retailer, possibly even in combination with suitable insurance offers, without involving separate providers.
Companies can strengthen customer loyalty and simultaneously increase their revenues. If customers receive a financing offer directly when purchasing a refrigerator, the likelihood of completing the purchase rises. Companies, especially online marketplaces that offer interim financing to their merchants, support them in scaling their business. By leveraging existing customer relationships, the high costs of customer acquisition are eliminated when providing financial services.
Investors have recognized the potential, and venture capital inflows in Europe have doubled compared to 2020. Companies like Rapyd or Mambu have already reached billion-dollar valuations. In the United States, providers such as Shopify Capital, Stripe, and Moov Financial are already established, showcasing the direction the industry could take in other countries.
Embedded finance is driving another revolution in the financial industry. There is a possibility that banks could lose their traditional role as companies from other sectors seamlessly integrate financial services into their offerings. Customers benefit from improved convenience and a wider range of financial services. Companies have the opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty and increase their revenues. Nevertheless, banks and financial institutions will continue to play an important role due to their expertise, experience, and established infrastructure. The future will likely involve a combination of traditional banks, fintech companies, and non-financial companies offering financial services. It remains exciting to observe how the financial industry will continue to evolve and what new opportunities and challenges will arise from it.
In recent years, platforms have experienced enormous growth and have established themselves as the future of certain industries. Whether in e-commerce with companies like Amazon, Zalando, or Wayfair, in transportation with Uber, Free Now, or Flixbus, in the service sector with Helpling, Fivver, or MyHammer, or even in traditional retail with shop-in-shop concepts – wherever you look – platform-driven models dominate the market.The increasing number of platforms offers customers a wide variety and choice, but it also presents platform operators with increasingly fierce competition among themselves. In recent years, well-known marketplaces like Dawanda, Allyouneed, GartenXXL, Plus.de, or Ciao had to close because they couldn't withstand the competitive pressure.
One significant driver for growth and stability for platforms is financial services. They enable platforms to be more attractive to merchants and retain them in the long term. Platforms can offer their merchants loans, help with accounting and tax filing, or facilitate insurance services, for example. As a result, platforms become an integral part of their merchants' businesses, making it difficult to switch to another platform. What used to be just a distribution channel suddenly becomes a crucial part of the business on the revenue, cost, and financing side.
We have examined four examples from different industries to illustrate what successful integrations of financial services can look like on platforms.
Successful e-commerce platforms already take care of payment management for their merchants. However, it's not just about payment processing but also about providing added value. An example is eBay, which has introduced its own payment solution that offers new payment methods and a unified billing system with interim financing. Payment providers like Stripe and Adyen have also been successful through their marketplace solutions.
In the financing sector, the BigTech company Amazon has taken a first step in cooperation with ING Bank. Amazon has been facilitating loans from ING to selected Amazon sellers for some time. These are loans ranging from €10,000 to €750,000 with terms of up to three years. This trend of collaboration between platforms and banks or FinTech companies is increasing, supported by FinTechs like Banxware, which help platforms and non-banks offer financial products.
While issuing credit cards for end customers is already an attractive source of revenue for many platforms, issuing credit cards for merchants is less common. Some larger platforms already offer virtual accounts that can be easily expanded into value-added services.
An example of insurance integration is the partnership between transportation company Uber and insurance company AXA. Uber offers its partner drivers partner protection that safeguards them against the costs of life-changing events.
These examples demonstrate how platforms can provide significant value to their customers and strengthen their competitive position through the integration of financial services. Banks and FinTech companies often act as invisible infrastructure in this process. However, financial services possess special complexity and pose challenges for platforms. Competencies in regulation, compliance, and capital requirements are necessary. Some platforms develop these competencies internally and establish their own financial subsidiaries, while others form partnerships with banks, insurance companies, and FinTech firms. In particular, FinTech companies often see themselves as intermediaries between highly technological platform companies and the complex banking world.
Although the term "embedded finance" is already familiar in the US and China, this trend is also making its way into the German platform market. This illustrates that platforms are the future of banking. Banks and FinTech companies continue to play an important role but often operate in the background as infrastructure providers. Platforms are increasingly taking on the role of customer caretakers and offering comprehensive financial services.
Overall, platforms are already better banks today. They offer their customers a wide range of services and enable easy integration of financial products. However, banks are not becoming obsolete; instead, they enter into partnerships with platforms to contribute their expertise. The trend of "embedded finance" will continue to shape the German market and profoundly transform the financial landscape.