Finance industry predictions for 2024: Insights from experts

Rick Steves

Explore 2024’s financial landscape through predictions from experts, including Chainalysis’ Phil Larratt, Pleo’s Torben Andersen, XBTO’s Philippe Bekhazi, Workday’s Daniel Pell, FIS’ Russell Andrews, Warwick Business School’s Ram Gopal, Globacap’s Myles Milston, ConnectPay’s Marius Galdikas, Paytrix’s Eddie Harrison, and Toqio’s Martinez Garcia.

Dive into the future of finance in 2024 through the lens of industry experts. Uncover the nuanced predictions, from the sophistication of illicit actors in the crypto space to the integration of generative AI. Explore the convergence of digital assets and traditional finance, navigate the forces steering the fintech sector, and gain insights into wealth management dynamics.

Witness the anticipated shifts in cross-border payments, marked by the emergence of genuine solutions. This collection of expert perspectives paints a comprehensive picture of the evolving financial landscape, offering a glimpse into the technology-driven and strategically nuanced future of the industry.

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to take center stage in finance teams, marking a pivotal moment in the industry’s AI journey. The allure of AI, exemplified by ChatGPT, has prompted a rush towards implementation. However, cautionary voices echo the need for a thoughtful approach, advocating for deliberate, phased rollouts and dedicated teams to trial AI-supported tools. This move towards AI aims to liberate teams from routine tasks, paving the way for more complex endeavors and enhancing overall business value. Yet, the human touch remains indispensable, highlighting the critical synergy between human expertise and AI prowess.

The convergence of digital assets and traditional finance is on the horizon, poised to materialize through potential approvals of spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). Forecasts predict a gradual shift in mindset among traditional asset allocators, leading to the natural integration of digital assets into investment portfolios. Exciting tailwinds, including the Bitcoin halving and ETF approvals, are anticipated to propel the crypto industry forward. This momentum, coupled with ongoing de-risking and regulatory frameworks, is foreseen to attract a growing cohort of institutional investors.

Technology emerges as a strategic ally in navigating external challenges like market uncertainty and skills shortages. Financial planning in 2024 is envisioned to be technology-driven, harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to augment human potential. The emphasis is on ensuring operational efficiency, delivering high-value insights, and fostering business growth. This marriage of technology and finance positions businesses to navigate volatility without missing out on opportunities, creating a resilient ecosystem.

In the wealth management space, the challenges of market conditions persist. Wealth managers find themselves in a balancing act, justifying investments in markets offering returns similar to cash portfolios. Hyper-personalization emerges as a key trend, inspired by successes in other industries like entertainment. Wealth tech is expected to experiment with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize customer journeys, ensuring a seamless and intuitive experience. The shift towards holistic wealth management gains momentum, responding to consumer demands for comprehensive services under one roof.

The forces shaping the fintech sector in 2024 are diverse and dynamic. Advances in data science and AI promise further personalization and customization of financial services, with algorithms analyzing client behaviors to recommend tailored investment portfolios. The flip side, however, entails risks associated with flawed AI implementations, underlining the importance of governance and education during AI adoption. The shift towards digital payments continues unabated, driven by initiatives like Payment Services Directive 3 (PSD3) and a global push towards open-source, customizable language models to address security and privacy concerns.

The finance sector is witnessing a fascinating interplay between technological innovation and regulatory scrutiny. The Great Rebundling is anticipated, driven by the need for consolidation in the B2B space, as businesses grapple with managing multiple suppliers. Genuine functional International Bank Account Numbers (IBANs) are poised to overcome cross-border payment challenges, addressing the clunkiness and unreliability inherent in existing systems. Moreover, a new era of digitally-native infrastructure for cross-border payments is anticipated, promising a more seamless global payments experience.

Embedded finance takes center stage in 2024, riding the waves of increased regulation, the adoption of emerging technologies, and a focus on financial inclusion. This trend is expected to permeate both consumer and corporate spaces, with a proliferation of financial services seamlessly integrated into non-financial products. As corporations pivot towards becoming more bank-like, a conscious re-creation of the financial sector is on the horizon, transforming the industry landscape.

Here’s a comprehensive summary of the key trends and forecasts:

Illicit Activity Sophistication: Chainalysis Director Phil Larratt anticipates increased sophistication among illicit actors in the crypto space, necessitating enhanced law enforcement efforts, training, and collaboration between public and private sectors.

Generative AI Implementation: Pleo’s Torben Andersen predicts a surge in generative AI implementation in finance teams, noting the need for cautious exploration, slow roll-outs, and a focus on data security to maximize productivity and minimize fraudulent activities.

Convergence of Digital Assets and Traditional Finance: XBTO Global CEO Philippe Bekhazi foresees an accelerated convergence between digital assets and traditional finance, driven by potential approvals of spot Bitcoin ETFs and a gradual shift in mindset among traditional asset allocators.

Technology-Driven Financial Planning: Workday’s Daniel Pell highlights the impact of market uncertainty and skills shortages on financial planning, highlighting the role of technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), in achieving operational efficiency and driving business growth.

Wealth Management Trends: FIS Head Russell Andrews predicts continued challenges for wealth managers, pointing to the importance of effective communication, hyper-personalization, and the transition to holistic wealth management to meet clients’ evolving needs.

Advancements in Data Science and AI: Warwick Business School’s Ram Gopal envisions advancements in data science and AI leading to further personalization of financial services, while noting the importance of governance, education, and open-source solutions to address challenges.

Private Market Adaptations: Myles Milston of Globacap anticipates exchanges adapting to the rise of private markets, with a focus on improving liquidity, embracing tokenization, and attracting VC funding for fintech solutions with strong technological foundations.

Forces Shaping Fintech in 2024: ConnectPay CEO Marius Galdikas outlines key forces shaping the fintech sector, including the impact of Payment Services Directive 3 (PSD3), heightened regulatory scrutiny, rethinking the Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) model, and the integration of AI and sustainability considerations.

The Great Rebundling: Paytrix’s Eddie Harrison envisions a “Great Rebundling” in 2024, particularly in B2B, where fintech pioneers consolidate their services into super apps for consumers and super APIs for businesses to address the challenges of managing multiple suppliers.

Improving Cross-Border Payments: Harrison predicts genuine solutions emerging in 2024 to address the clunkiness of cross-border payments, including functional IBANs and new infrastructure for digitally-native, global cross-border payment solutions.

Embedded Finance Growth: Martinez Garcia, CEO of Toqio, pointed to the continued growth of embedded finance in 2024, fueled by increased regulation, adoption of emerging technologies, a focus on financial inclusion, and the transformation of the financial landscape, making corporate embedded finance an industry norm.

The 2024 predictions in their own words

Phil Larratt, Chainalysis

“In 2024, we can anticipate that illicit actors are going to become more sophisticated in the tactics and techniques they use, especially as more long-standing traditional organised criminals and financial crime actors continue to adopt crypto as well. This is largely in response to the growing knowledge there is around how blockchain transactions are traced, and the increased frequency and effectiveness of law enforcement interventions.

“This developing sophistication from illicit actors could involve the use of privacy coins, bridges, mixers and other obfuscation tools, but it’s worth noting that the technology to trace through obfuscation techniques will continue to advance too. In response to this likely trend, we will need more intensive law enforcement investigations, increased training and knowledge sharing by law enforcement organisations, even more advanced fraud protection programs and continued partnerships between the public and private sectors, in order to continue to successfully disrupt and deter illicit activity on the blockchain.”

Torben Andersen, Pleo

“Over the course of 2023, AI has supercharged productivity across workplaces everywhere. In finance, we’ve been no strangers to AI – with chatbots a mainstay in how we talk to our customers. But in 2024, I predict this to turn up a notch, with the increased implementation of generative AI.

“ChatGPT made people think – hey, this can do something for me today. It’s the first time people have had this proximity and hands-on experience with it. But this wow factor has meant a lot of people are rushing in, and they’re not giving their implementation the thought it deserves. In 2024, I’d like to see finance teams exploring the future of AI, but being conscious of the hype in the space and thinking about what they can get from the product. I also expect we will see more use of AI tools to minimise fraudulent expense reports by monitoring and approving expenses.

“Generative AI is a good tool for teaching you new things and helping to automate routine tasks. This frees up teams for more complex work, which in turn improves the overall value businesses can create. However, both humans and caution will always be needed. The businesses that get it right will be the ones that do a slow roll-out, do small pilots and have a small team dedicated to trialling AI-supported tools. Ensuring data security and data validation, including encrypted storage and transmission, is paramount to ensure high data quality and accurate AI outputs.”

Philippe Bekhazi, XBTO Global

“In 2024 we’re going to see an accelerated convergence between digital assets and traditional finance.

“Namely, the likely approval of multiple spot Bitcoin ETFs will galvanise the market but may not have the immediate big bang impact that some in the industry are expecting. If approved, we will see a gradual mindset change as more traditional asset allocators start to include digital assets in their portfolio, and build it more naturally into their investment philosophy. Crucial steps, such as the ETF, are being made towards greater institutional adoption of digital assets and ultimately the maturation of the crypto industry.

“As we head into 2024, there are many exciting tailwinds such as the halving of Bitcoin in April and the ETF approvals, which are set to give the industry greater momentum. Meanwhile, as the industry continues to be de-risked and regulatory frameworks are set out, more institutional investors will recognise crypto’s potential.”

Daniel Pell, Workday

“External factors like market uncertainty and the skills shortage are having a marked impact on financial planning for 2024. However, if finance professionals use technology that increases operational efficiency and augments human potential, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) that also puts humans and workers first, they will be well poised to drive high-value insights and deliver business growth in order to navigate any volatility without missing any opportunities.”

Russell Andrews, FIS

“The current market conditions are likely to continue into 2024, and this will present challenges for wealth managers as they try to keep their clients calm, rational and invested in the markets. Cash is once again king and interest rates have risen, so wealth managers are having to work harder to justify investing in markets that might be delivering a similar return to a cash portfolio, as well as taking on board the risk that comes with that. There are, however, benefits to being fully invested, and for wealth managers it’s a case of communicating those to clients – something that the portfolio of tools we have at FIScan help with.

“Another major trend that we’ve seen manifest over the last few years in other industries, and which will play an increasingly significant role in wealth management, is hyper-personalisation. Just as entertainment companies like Netflix have harnessed technology to provide hyper-personalised customer experiences that not only meet but pre-empt users’ wants and needs, we will see wealth tech follow suit. The wealth management firms we work with are looking to us to help them experiment with things like artificial intelligence to ensure they are optimising their customer journey and helping to meet their clients’ financial goals in a much more intuitive and user-friendly way.

“Finally, we will see a continued transition to holistic wealth management, where clients look to one provider to evaluate the full scope of their financial needs and make recommendations accordingly. While it will still be crucial that they are able to offer tailored advice in each individual area, the industry is seeing increasing demand from consumers who simply want to be able to get all their services under one roof. As a result, the wealth management providers we work with are asking for technology solutions that enable them to expand the range of their offerings, while joining all the dots so their clients experience a seamless journey.

“In summary, the year ahead will see the wealth management sector take a bold leap forward in pursuit of client excellence, by leveraging advanced technologies to create simpler, more personalised, and holistic experiences for their customers.”

Ram Gopal, Warwick Business School

“Advancements in data science and AI will enable further personalisation and customisation of financial services. Digital wealth management platforms will leverage algorithms to analyse client behaviours and to recommend tailored investment portfolios aligned with individual risk appetites. Generative AI holds promise for making complex financial concepts more understandable for mainstream audiences, promoting financial inclusion.

“However, risks remain. Flawed AI implementations present a threat, as evidenced by a major fund or institution likely facing significant AI or data-related challenges in the next few years. This will underscore the importance of governance, education, and experience in leadership roles during AI adoption. In light of security and privacy concerns, we expect financial institutions to emphasise development of open source, customisable language models tailored to their specific needs rather than reliance on large proprietary systems.

“The steady march towards digital payments will continue globally, led by traditional platforms but supplemented by new decentralised account-to-account transaction channels and central bank digital currency pilots.

“Financial institutions will further warm to blockchain technology as major banks transition from expensive, siloed private blockchains to interoperable public solutions that promote efficiency and unified standards.

“Cryptocurrency adoption will also rise, buoyed by increasing regulatory clarity in jurisdictions like the EU as landmark legislation around digital asset markets comes into effect. Greater legal certainty should promote trust and uptake of crypto by investors.

“While technological change brings both promise and some peril, the dominant trends point towards better personalised services, transparency, efficiency, and accessibility going into 2024 across the financial system. But these potential gains require vigilant governance and risk monitoring to ensure financial stability during transition.”

Myles Milston, Globacap

“Exchanges will focus on adapting to the rise of private markets. Public markets stagnated in 2023 with record low IPO numbers and companies actively delisting. Meanwhile, private markets have increased funding, deepened liquidity, and improved tech. Exchanges across the globe will need to focus on adapting quickly or risk irrelevance.

“More private equity firms will trade private market secondaries. In 2023, PE firms struggled due to lack of exit opportunities amidst underperforming public markets and turned to secondary markets. New tech has digitised and automated secondary liquidity in private markets, offering an alternative exit route for PE firms.

“Financial institutions will prioritise the adoption of tokenization. Despite a turbulent 12 months for digital assets, institutions (especially in private markets) will prioritise the adoption of digital asset technology in order to improve interoperability and give greater control to investors. They to avoid perpetuating digital islands and instead focus on standardisation.

“Fintech solutions with top tech will attract VC funding. The fintech and tech sectors have experienced falling valuations and reduced investor interest this year due to macroeconomic risk factors, as well as a crisis of confidence brought on by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Despite a slowed global funding pipeline, there are signs of recovery in VC funding and fintechs with top tech, and a strong product story, are most likely to reap the benefits.

Marius Galdikas, ConnectPay

The financial services sector continues to move in the direction of fintech, with revenues in the fintech sector projected to grow almost three times faster than revenues in the traditional banking sector over the next four years. With regulators and financial industry players responding to these developments, 2024 promises to be a transformative year for fintech. Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, an all-in-one financial platform for online businesses, has commented on what trends are expected to shape the financial technology sector in the coming year.

  •  Payment Services Directive 3

Financial services companies will have to prepare next year for the enactment of Payment Services Directive 3 (PSD3), a new set of rules governing the EU payment markets expected to come into force by the end of 2024. The general aim of PSD3 is to update and modernize the rules outlined in its predecessor, PSD2, and better unify rules across EU states. The result will be improved efficiency and security of electronic payments and financial services in general in Europe.

One expectation is that PSD3 will require payment service providers (PSPs) to adhere to enhanced fraud prevention measures. This could be done, for example, by enacting stricter rules on customer authentication and more extensive guidelines governing access to payment systems and account information.

“To prepare for the changes PSD3 will bring, it will be necessary for fintech companies to thoroughly review and adjust their processes and compliance protocols,” says Galdikas. “In the upcoming year, we will see enhanced efforts within the industry to adapt to the ever-evolving regulatory landscape, to better ensure the security of payment processes and customer data.”

  • Heightened regulatory scrutiny

There is a reasonable expectation of heightened regulatory scrutiny in general in 2024. Events like the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank and the Railsr incident shook the financial industry in 2023 by highlighting how even seemingly strong companies are susceptible to market forces beyond their control, like rising interest rates and falling investments. These incidents spurred some regulatory changes expected for the coming year, including heightened reporting requirements and closer supervision of risk management practices.

“Fintech companies should expect to conduct thorough internal reviews to identify and address potential vulnerabilities and fortify their compliance measures,” Galdikas says. “A key part of this process should be clear and open communication with regulatory bodies, stakeholders, and the public, to emphasize the steps taken to enhance security and compliance. Such transparency will help foster a culture of compliance within the financial sector, which will be crucial to maintaining both a successful industry and consumer trust.”

Fintechs should also expect to navigate new regulations on the use of generative AI in financial processes to better protect consumer data and ensure the ethical use of this emerging technology. Fintech leaders are already calling for more regulation on AI itself, to help protect digital assets from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.

  • Rethinking the BaaS model

Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS), or embedded finance, has continually expanded over the last several years, as businesses increasingly integrate financial services into their core offerings. While BaaS is a cornerstone of fintech, BaaS providers must maintain a level of flexibility, ready to adapt their service model to the financial industry’s shifting interests and, particularly, to its evolving regulatory environment.

One area where flexibility is crucial is in the matter of compliance. Because the BaaS provider holds the banking license that allows fintechs to offer financial services to their users, it is the BaaS provider who is ultimately responsible for the security of those users’ assets and information. With regulations and risk management requirements becoming more strict, BaaS providers must be ever more prepared to ensure a high level of security and reliability. Where compliance has typically been handled by BaaS providers’ fintech partners, that responsibility is shifting more and more onto the shoulders of BaaS providers themselves.

“One approach to dealing with this shift,” Galdikas proposes, “is for BaaS providers to embed compliance into their offerings. Alongside traditional services, like accounts, payments, and cards, BaaS providers could also handle onboarding, authentication, monitoring. By offering embedded compliance, or compliance-as-a-service,” Galdikas says, “BaaS providers can reduce the complexity of maintaining compliance, thereby allowing fintechs to focus on their core business, which is one of the principles that gave rise to BaaS in the first place.”

  • AI and its adaptability in the industry

As the transformative potential of generative AI has become clearer throughout 2023, fintech companies are looking to integrate AI more fully into the financial services sector in 2024. Beyond chatbots and virtual assistants, AI is being considered as a solution to more complex problems, like risk assessment, fraud detection, and customer authentication.

“It is no surprise that fintechs are pursuing AI as a way to improve the speed and efficiency of their services. But doing so in a responsible and effective way will not be an easy task,” Galdikas notes. “It will be important to understand AI’s mechanisms, its biases, and its overall limitations before trusting it to solve some of the more difficult problems in the financial sector. As with any technology, fintechs will need to keep a close eye on AI as it finds its place and proper function in the industry.”

  • A move toward sustainability

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations are expected to receive increased focus in 2024, as fintechs incorporate sustainability into their business strategies. ESG is a set of standards used to determine the sustainability of a business or investment. For fintechs, adhering to ESG standards can include making net-zero pledges, supporting efforts to combat climate change, and transitioning away from the use of energy-intensive technologies.

Such changes may be driven not just by regulatory changes, but also by increased commitment to social responsibility and increasing consumer demand for ethical and sustainable financial services.

“In an increasingly eco-conscious industry,” Galdikas says, “the integration of ESG considerations could lead to a competitive edge for fintechs, attracting environmentally-conscious investors and fostering long-term resilience.”

Eddie Harrison, Paytrix

The Great Rebundling

Before the advent of the internet, high street banks would handle most financial services for businesses and individuals. In the last twenty years, we’ve seen a whole range of suppliers emerge to provide specific individual services to businesses and consumers, whether in foreign exchange, financing or corporate treasury. While these unbundled services, digitally native from the get go, have provided greater speed, convenience and simplicity, businesses in particular are starting to struggle with managing so many suppliers.

We’re already seeing B2C and B2B fintech pioneers starting to extend their range of services into adjacent spaces. And I think this consolidation will continue in 2024 with a great rebundling, particularly in the B2B space. For consumers, this will increasingly take the form of a super app, whereas for businesses it will be via a super API.

  • Genuinely Functional IBANs

For all the investment and entrepreneurial energy that has gone into fintech in recent years, the movement of money across borders, particularly for businesses, remains clunky, unreliable and slow. Whereas you would imagine that digital technology would slowly be eradicating friction and speeding things up, the reality is that much of the underlying infrastructure is dated and unreliable. Take IBANs for example, introduced in 1997 as a standard format for European bank accounts which was meant to erase the distinction between cross-border payments in Europe.

The reality is that IBANs are often only functional on a very local basis — with transactions across borders often treated, illegally, as foreign payments; or differences in IBAN formats leading to unnecessary rejections. This is a particularly common issue with single or multi-currency IBAN solutions. In 2024, we’ll see the emergence of genuine solutions that allow businesses to operate with a truly local footprint across all individual countries in Europe and beyond.

  • The Emergence of New Infrastructure for Cross-Border Payments

When it comes to online retail experiences, from the consumer’s perspective, innovation is constant – from being able to shop via livestream on platforms such as TikTok, to receiving enhanced loyalty experiences via QR codes. Everything about online user experiences is becoming increasingly intuitive, sticky, fast and convenient.

Look beneath the surface though at what’s going on from a payments perspective for the ecommerce marketplace, and it’s a tangled mess – which is not surprising. Whether it’s card transactions or payments running over SWIFT, a lot of the ecommerce money is moving around on 1970s infrastructure.

Up until now, attempts to upgrade the systems for cross-border payments have been tinkering around the edges. I think in 2024, we’ll start to see the emergence of digitally-native, cross-border payment solutions that provide genuine and comprehensive global capabilities rather than the reskinning of legacy infrastructure.

Martinez Garcia, Toqio

The continued growth of embedded finance: “Since embedded finance refers to the digital process of integrating financial services into non-financial products and services, and everything digital seems to move at breakneck speed, it will ramp up in 2024. Corporate embedded finance platforms will play a key role in this growth, as they enable businesses to embed financial services into their own offerings, quickly and easily. All the reports published on the topic thus far have said the same thing: the success of embedded finance in the consumer space will carry over into the B2B arena, and be worth trillions.”

Increased regulation of the fintech industry: “As the fintech industry continues to grow, regulators are taking a closer look at it. This has led to increased regulation of the industry in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue. A lot of this has to do with the missteps of several financial service providers over the last couple of years. Embedded finance platforms will need to comply with these new regulations in order to ensure that nobody can take advantage of the great tools that are being produced.”

The extended adoption of emerging technologies: “Several emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), will slowly make their way into the embedded finance space throughout 2024. We can expect to see increased adoption of these technologies by corporate embedded finance platforms and other fintech companies. Tentative steps have already been made, but the serious consequences of issues arising from implementing these sorts of technologies have made those integrating them trepidatious, to say the least. Both AI and ML are yet to be seen in corporate embedded finance. That’s mainly because integration, especially with regard to lending, will be all about data collection and how to analyze the information extracted. Those two technologies, when linked to data science, will therefore be key differentiators in the future.”

Financial inclusion will increase, as will corporate financial offerings: “Financial inclusion has the primary goal of making financial services accessible and affordable to everyone. In the upcoming year, we can expect to see corporate embedded finance platforms focus more on the topic. This will involve developing new products and services that are specifically designed to reach the people who need it most. More specific to the business sphere, ‘affordability’ will become a heavy focus for brands to increase customer loyalty in both the B2B and B2C spaces. Brands will seek to offer customers and partners more financial product options when banks will not or cannot engage, such as turning down a loan based on traditional scoring methodologies or opening up lines of credit in light of restricted cash flow.”

The financial landscape is going to get terraformed: “Incumbent banks have demonstrated their staying power and adaptability time and time again, mostly due to being able to leverage their size and relative dependability. Banks are finally recognizing the need to adapt to changing customer expectations and digital transformation, especially as embedded finance matures and larger corporations embrace the concept. In a very real sense, large companies are becoming the new disruptors. Banks have actually started scaling back their innovation because of market speculation and the spectre of possible collapse. Competition will become even more significant as the nature of a disruptor changes from a fintech to an empowered corporate entity. The future of core banking is likely to strike a balance between fintech-driven companies and incumbents. While large financial institutions will endure, their role is evolving. Their strengths are assessment, management, and specialized services. We’re already seeing them pivot toward analyzing data from a multitude of sources, diving into data lakes to provide genuinely useful risk assessments. Throughout 2024 we’re going to see a conscious and guided re-creation of the finance sector, a full terraforming of the terrain with the intention of creating something that flourishes, with incumbents, fintechs, and companies all seeking to find their niches in the ecosystem. It’s clear that corporate embedded finance will be a massive part of the upcoming shift.”

Corporate embedded finance will get fairly close to becoming an industry norm: “2024 will be the year of embedded finance technology. It’s the year we’ll see new tech and regulations change what we know about how the sector operates. It’s the year corporates will truly become banks, or at least bank-like. It’s the year smaller companies will look to trusted, larger partners for financial guidance and support. It’s the year that will end with corporations having recession-proofed their revenue streams through diversification. It’s the year where we’ll see corporates capturing new revenue by offering financial solutions throughout their operations.”

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