Published On: 13/09/2022Categorías: Sostenibilidad

An Explanation through Business Model Scalability and Market Valuation.

Framework: Financial Technology (FinTech) is an industry composed of diversified firms that combine financial services with innovative technologies. The research question and main goal are attempting to answer whether they are more similar to traditional banks or trendy technological firms deploying their innovativeness to favor financial inclusion and sustainability. Justification: Evaluators may wonder if FinTechs follow the typical evaluation patterns of bank/financial intermediaries or those of technological firms. Preliminary empirical evidence shows that the latter interpretation is the one consistent with the stock-market mood. Objective: This study goes beyond the extant literature, analyzing the differences between FinTechs and traditional banks in market valuation, and showing the potential for digital interaction and cross-pollination of complementary business models. Methodology: The differences will be empirically analyzed with the stock market valuation and the multipliers associated with these firms. Results: The main contribution of this paper is that the appraisal approaches of FinTechs follow those of technological startups, having a revenue model much more scalable than that of a typical bank. FinTechs may so provide a solution for sustainable finance with microfinance and crowdfunding among others. FinTechs and traditional banks may eventually converge towards a common market exploiting co-opetition strategies.

Keywords: financial innovation; value chains; scalability; digital platforms; financial ecosystem; discounted cash flows; market value; Sustainable Development Goals.


The term “FinTech” denotes the firms that combine financial services with innovative technologies offered to financial service providers. As a rule, new participants in the market offer Internet-based and application-oriented products. FinTechs generally attract customers with products and services that are more user-friendly, efficient, transparent, and automated than those currently available. Traditional banks have not yet exhausted the possibilities for improvements along these lines [1,2,3].

In addition to offering products and services in the banking sector, some FinTechs distribute insurance and other financial instruments or provide third party services.

FinTech is recognized as one of the most critical innovations in the financial industry and is evolving at a rapid speed, driven by the sharing and circular economy, favorable regulation, and information technology. FinTech promises to disrupt and reshape the financial industry by cutting costs, improving the quality of financial services, and creating a more diverse and stabler financial landscape. FinTechs foster technological innovation in financial services that could result in new business models, applications, processes, or products with a material effect on financial markets and institutions, and the provision of financial services [4].

The relevance of the link between sustainability, finance, and technology has been evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which has urged all countries to re-think the models traditionally deployed and rely more on technology and sustainability [5].

FinTechs have already started to fill the financial inclusion gap by providing services to the Bottom of the Pyramid unbanked people, enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT) and new business models. The triple-bottom-line impact analysis that considers economic, social, and environmental sustainability is a new, emerging research area [6]. Nevertheless, as FinTech is innovative but inherently unpredictable, customers are still hesitant to adopt and use it, so affecting its growth. Uncertainty is more critical in FinTech than in traditional e-banking because FinTech transactions are more complicated and less predictable [7].

FinTechs are gaining importance and presence in the financial and banking sector, becoming a game-changing, disruptive innovation capable of shaking up traditional financial markets [8].

The playing field of this study is FinTech business models and their variegated sustainability, providing complementary activities to banks that favors the removal of traditional barriers of the financial sector, favoring financial inclusion. This research strand has been recently well-developed [9] by considering FinTech as the key driver for financial inclusion, and sustainable balanced development, as embodied in the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are a set of 17 targets to create a sustainable world by 2030 ( Their full potential to support these Goals may be realized progressively supporting digital financial transformation. In this context, the valuation of FinTech companies that make projects viable is an essential part of the sustainability process.

The business model of FinTechs is intangible-driven, combining e-finance, internet technologies, social networking, artificial intelligence, blockchains, and big data analytics, and is more scalable than that of traditional banks. These features impact growth opportunities and trendy patterns consistent with Sustainable Development Goals. This phenomenon will be analyzed in Section 2. The main dimensions aforementioned in the definition of FinTechs are displayed in Figure 1.

Technological startups include companies operating in the FinTech segment, providing services and financial products with information and communications technologies (ICT). FinTechs reformulate business models, with innovative software and algorithms, value chains based on interactive computer platforms, artificial intelligence, and big data.

Financial services that focus on the transmission of information on digital platforms rely on innovative activities concerning data processing and interpretation in real-time with automated descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive technologies. The design of digital financial markets and systems provided by [9] supports broader access to finance and investment. This means a tremendous potential to transform not only finance but economies and societies, through FinTech, financial inclusion, and sustainable balanced development.

FinTech has become a hot term due to many driven forces, which include technical development, business, and market innovation, cost-saving requirements, and customer demand [10,11]. FinTech refers to a vast and diverse industry that disrupts the financial industry, solving friction points for consumers and businesses to make the overall business more resilient and sustainable.

The banking industry is facing radical transformation and restructuring, as well as a move toward a customer-centric platform that can foster financial inclusion. The competition will increase as new players enter the industry, but the long-term impact is more open. The regulation will decisively influence to what extent FinTechs will enter the industry and who the dominant players will be. The challenge for regulators will be to keep a level playing field that strikes the right balance between fostering innovation and preserving financial stability, and consumer protection [12].

The valuation issues of FinTechs must be adapted to often young companies, given the novelty of the sector, which have all the prerogatives of startups (in terms of expected growth, survival rate, volatility, etc.). The valuation methodologies must consider first the underlying business model. The main internal driver of sustainability is represented by their economic and financial viability that can be detected by examining their business model and current accounts (with reference to economic and financial margins, like EBITDA, net result, operating, and net cash flows). If they are self-sustainable, then they can improve their ecosystem’s overall sustainability [13].

According to [14], there are two types of FinTech companies: competitive and collaborative. Competitive FinTechs are larger and mature firms, not necessarily hyper-specialized, aiming to squeeze out new competitors with lower prices. Collaborative FinTechs offer ancillary services to enhance the position of competitors, cooperating with banks [1]. Cooperation is primarily geared to the integration of a FinTech application (product-related cooperation) along the financial intermediation supply chain [15]. A further pattern is be represented by co-opetition, according to which FinTechs and banks both compete and cooperate.

In recent years, considerable progress has been made in the areas of both FinTech and sustainability. However, up to now, these two areas have rarely come together, even if they are the two major drivers of change in the financial sector. There is not a financial institution that is not involved in it. “FinTech is a new financial industry that applies technology to improve financial activities” [16]. In theory, it would be possible to include banks, but this would make it harder to draw a line between traditional market participants and FinTechs.

Moreover, sustainability has grown from a niche preoccupation for business to a mainstream concern. Established FinTech can act as a sustainability catalyst to trigger collaborative innovation between traditional financial and banking institutions [17]. The Sustainable Development Goals offer businesses and stakeholders a common playground on sustainable development [17].

FinTech could help accelerate the development of green and inclusive financial markets and help realign finance to support sustainable development. It offers the prospect of quickening the integration of the financial system with the real economy, which will in turn enhance opportunities for greater decentralization and increased participation.

Based on these premises, the research question of the paper is concerned with the hybrid “Fin + Tech” nature of these innovative firms, wondering if they are more similar to traditional banks or trendy technological firms. The business model comparison will be complemented by stock market empirical evidence, limited to a subset of successful listed FinTechs that represent a mighty target for mushrooming startups. Economic sustainability will be investigated as a prerequisite of other sustainability declinations, ranging from the social impact of financial inclusion to the related environmental concerns, consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.

This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 includes a literature survey, showing the originality of this research question. Section 3 describes the methodology and the research question in further detail, reporting the empirical evidence, with the stock market valuation, and the multipliers of a sample of FinTechs, banks, and technological firms. The implications follow in the subsequent paragraphs. Section 4 synthetizes some interactions between FinTechs and banks, showing differences, and converging patterns. Section 5 contains a discussion, concentrated on asymmetric risk patterns, and Section 6 summarizes and concludes……

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