Retail Banker International lists the top five terms tweeted on fintech in Q4 2021, based on data from GlobalData’s Banking and Payments Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 150 fintech experts tracked by GlobalData’s Banking and Payments Influencer platform during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021.

1. Artificial Intelligence – 12,634 mentions

The role played by artificial intelligence (AI) in transforming the finance function, the use cases for AI in fintech, and the banking industry leading among fintech and big tech organisations in deploying AI were some of the popular discussions on AI in Q4 2021.

Antonio Grasso, creator and CEO of the consulting firm Digital Business Innovation, shared an article on chief financial officers (CFOs) focusing on AI investments to improve their business performance and increase their financial predictions and accuracy, while also reducing the manual processes involved in finance functions. A survey carried out by audit and consulting firm Deloitte found four reasons why top business and IT executives were deploying AI. One of the reasons was to make their processes more efficient through automation, apart from enabling better decision making by uncovering discrete patterns of data. AI was also adopted to enhance customer experiences and build credibility, and to enhance employee productivity by automating mundane tasks while allowing finance executives to focus on more critical areas of the business, the article detailed.

AI was also discussed by Xavier Gomez, founder and COO of software as a service (SaaS) company Invyo, on AI use cases in fintech. Gomez stated that AI usage will increase within the fintech sector to expedite lending decisions, trade finance and working capital management. Furthermore, AI is expected to be used for process control and optimisation, which will enable traditional financial players to improve efficiency and increase productivity. Customer experience is another area where AI is expected to be deployed enabling banks to use virtual or robot assistant chatbots to answer queries within seconds. The fintech sector may use AI for credit scoring purposes to improve decision making and ensure compliance, according to Gomez who added that AI may also be deployed to improve cybersecurity and protect valuable data.

In another tweet, Jim Marous, co-founder and publisher of The Financial Brand, an online retail banking publication, shared an article on the banking sector moving ahead of fintech and big tech in deploying modern technologies such as AI to enhance decision making and streamline back-office operations. The article noted that banks will be able to add value by deploying insights gathered from product performance and customer needs. Banks can also deploy conversational AI to enhance consumer’s banking interactions by going beyond small tasks such as checking balances to serving as a financial concierge, the article highlighted.

2. Startups – 3,420 mentions

Top fintech start-ups in Europe being led by women CEOs, credit-card-as-a-service start-up Deserve receiving funds from global technology payments company Visa, and fintech start-ups playing a key role in consumer transactions were among the popular discussions in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Spiros Margaris, a venture capitalist and founder of venture capital and private equity firm Margaris Ventures, shared an article on women’s representation and inclusion in building financial solutions in Europe. The article detailed that among the 149 fintechs in Europe, only 12 were led by women CEOs. Experts, however, believe that there is a growing number of female founders in fintech, with 13% of European fintechs now being headed by women leaders. Some of the top women-led fintech start-ups include Starling Bank, Lovys, Azimo, Mambu, Billie, Molo, PensionBee, Pollinate, Fluidly, and goHenry, the article highlighted.

The term was also discussed by Enrico Molinari, a fintech expert, on Deserve receiving funding from Visa to enable the former to expand its services to banks and financial institutions. Deserve’s API-enabled software allows customers to fill their wallets quickly and effortlessly through different digital methods. It also introduced the concept of a credit card that offers cryptocurrency as a user reward to customers. The company has previously received investments from Visa’s rivals such as Mastercard and consumer banking company Sallie Mae, the article added.

In another tweet, David Jiménez Maireles, chief experience officer and deputy CEO of digital-only bank TNEX, shared a report on the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating the use of digital payment services such as peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, digital wallets and barcode payment apps. The report further detailed how fintech start-ups played a major role in the digital payments landscape, where three in four consumers used a financial services app from a non-bank provider. Additionally, more than 86% of the fintech vendors stated that they depended on payment firms to build their strategies and/or operations.

3. CyberSecurity – 1,767 mentions

European and international authorities concerned about the financial industry being exposed to cybersecurity risks, fintech companies concerned about identity authentication security options, and the impact of cybersecurity and AI on the fintech industry were some of the popular discussions in the last quarter of 2021.

Andreas Staub, head of corporate development and digital transformation at banking group Raiffeisen Switzerland, shared an article on the cybersecurity challenges associated with the financial industry. International agencies and authorities have called for proper identification, management, assessment and prevention of cybersecurity risks, which have the potential to cause financial and reputational damage to the financial industry. A survey conducted by the European Confederation of Institutes of Internal Auditing highlighted the increasing expectations of internal audit teams regarding cybersecurity challenges and data privacy risks. The article further detailed the regulatory frameworks developed by international authorities to address cybersecurity challenges. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), for example, recently revised its Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism to outline its involvement in areas that could negatively impact fintech and other relevant facets of cybersecurity.

Xavier Gomez further tweeted on a report which highlighted that 80% of fintech executives were concerned about the risks related to traditional identity authentication security tools, according to a survey conducted by biometric authentication provider authID.ai. The survey revealed that three-quarters of the executives surveyed were moderately worried about customers remaining disappointed with knowledge-based authentication (KBA) requests and one-time password (OTP) protocols, the article noted. Experts claim that legacy tools tend to be hacked through the seizure of SMS pin codes by cybercriminals or through fake account takeovers by exploiting easy-to-guess security questions, the article detailed.

In another tweet, Alex Jiménez, a fintech expert and strategist, discussed the interplay of cybersecurity and AI in the banking and financial sector. The article detailed how AI can expose the banking and fintech sector to the risks of theft, fraud and malware. On the contrary, AI can be utilised to fight cyberattacks using its diagnostic capabilities, which can help in processing vast amounts of data and finding hidden forms and anomalies in information.

4. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) – 1,707 mentions

Banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) firms under increased pressure to incorporate sustainability goals, speculations around fintech turning green over the next decade, and the role of fintech in decarbonisation initiatives were some of the popular discussions in Q4.

Antonio Grasso shared an infographic on how BFSI companies are under pressure to meet sustainability goals and focus on areas that may have a detrimental impact on ESG parameters. The infographic detailed that the shift to sustainability among financial services firms was being driven by the need to prepare businesses for future competitiveness, and to embed sustainability goals in their processes. The financial sector is also investing in areas such as climate change, reducing the racial wealth gap, and creating skills for the youth to meet the United Nations’ (UN) sustainability development goals (SDGs), the infographic highlighted.

ESG was also discussed by Helene Li, a finance industry expert and co-founder of Golmpact Capital Partners, an ecosystem that connects stakeholders in accelerating their sustainable development agenda. She shared an article on how fintech is turning green by prioritising investments in ESG efforts and how the industry will be shaped by climate change in the next ten years. The article highlighted that global ESG assets are expected to reach more than $53tn by 2025. Many financial services companies such as the Bank of America reported ESG assets worth $329bn in July 2021, the article detailed. Furthermore, Mastercard unveiled a Sustainability Innovation Lab to further the company’s goals on sustainable offerings, while Barclays has reserved $100bn of financing to support sustainability efforts.

In another tweet, Theodora Lau, founder of the consulting firm Unconventional Ventures, shared a report from fintech research firm WhiteSight on sustainable finance trends and the role of fintech in decarbonisation. The report highlighted that consumers are demanding climate-conscious products and seeking more accountability from corporations. The report also stated that 54% of consumers consider the reduction of carbon footprint as important after the pandemic. Furthermore, 91% of the bank chief risk officers (CROs) found climate change to be a top risk in the next five years, while 88% of bankers in Europe feel that banks should play a critical role in spreading awareness regarding climate change.

5. Cloud – 1,464 mentions

Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and cloud computing services provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnering on a cloud solution for financial services companies, and the reasons for banks to transition to the cloud were some of the popular discussions in the fourth quarter.

Xavier Gomez shared an article on the collaboration between Goldman Sachs and AWS to develop a cloud-based solution that will enable financial services to use data and analytics tools to gain more insights from financial data and make better investment decisions. AWS also unveiled the Goldman Sachs Financial Cloud for Data, a cloud-based analytics and data solution for financial firms. The solution is expected to provide users with robust financial data from Goldman Sachs, the article highlighted.

Cloud was also discussed by Dr Efi Pylarinou, a fintech expert, who shared an article on the reasons for banks to move to the cloud. The article detailed that cost-saving was one of the top reasons for the shift, although innovation always implied a security trade-off for the banking sector. Experts believe that the shift to the cloud is a revolutionary step towards data innovation, with the pandemic and the increase of cloud-native fintechs having changed the minds of incumbent banks. Furthermore, the shift to the cloud for mission-critical assignments is at its tipping point, with about one-third of the banks globally moving to the cloud for security reasons and to reduce data thefts, the article highlighted.