FiBD – the Fintech Bullshit Detector

FiBD – the Fintech Bullshit Detector. Main image: shpock,
Written by Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner has developed a keen Fintech Bullshit Detector for distinguishing bingo buzzwords from genuine contenders. What does your pitch sound like?

I’ve been wondering for a while how so many companies can be starting up something in the same space, and how they’re surviving. The reason for mentioning it is that we keep hearing these numbers around how many billions are being invested in fintech, bitcoin, blockchain and suchlike, yet I cannot see the unicorns. Well, not many anyway. How many can you name?

A couple of years ago, there were 84 (according to Jim Bruene on the Finovate blog), yet how many now? OK, so there’s a raft of them in China, but then China is reinventing the game. In the States, there’s Stripe and Square … there was and is Lending Club, but some say it has lost its way. There are a few more, sure, but it’s not a big list.

Then there’s the blockchain bit, and not a single unicorn there yet, unless you count bitcoin the currency.

Breakout firms and fintech failures

This slightly concerns me, as you would imagine there would be more breakout firms by now. After all, it’s over a decade since the fintech revolution began – I personally place my first fintech firm as Zopa, which launched in April 2005 – and the market is still nascent. Equally, for every firm that has broken out, there are dozens that haven’t.

How many fintech failures are there? Again, there was the notable implosion of Powa Technologies due to bad management, but how many others are there that you don’t hear about? And am I just finding this question rising because I meet so, so, so, so many new startups with bright ideas and big ambitions?

Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t turned into a bear on the fintech scene. No, I’m still bullish, but I’m getting to the point that if anyone else comes up to me and says we’ve got this great solution for KYC, or we’re doing things the banks cannot even imagine, or this is going to be the most disruptive software you’ve seen yet, or this is the next bitcoin, I’m going to scream.

This is why I’ve invented the Fintech Bullshit Detector (FiBD for short). It works the same as buzzword bingo, and sits in the back of my mind whenever I hear a pitch. The buzzword bingo terms in the pitch must include at least three of the following:

  • Disruption
  • Open
  • Breakthrough
  • Game changer
  • Innovative
  • Millennial
  • Leverage
  • Next-generation
  • Platform
  • Legacy
  • Digital
  • Democratisation
  • Anything … as-a-service
  • Marketplace

In fact, our good friends over at Leveris have already generated one (thanks to @IamSMoloney). Here’s a few examples of what they came up with:

  • Bitcoin crypto-ecosphere incubates API-friendly functionality.
  • Full-service remote server stack integrates Gen Y millennial crypto spend.
  • Neobank disintermediation offers external innovation in return for cashless payment.

Oooooooooo … it’s enough to make you bite your fingers off. So, now you know that if you pitch to me and I say, “You’ve been FiBD,” you just reached my point of least interest. OK, let’s get on with the day.

Chris Skinner has developed the Fintech Bullshit Detector (FiBD for short) Click To Tweet

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Main image: shpock,

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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