NoCode and the Accessibility of FinTech
Every company will become a FinTech company. It’s an often-quoted line from Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Embedded Finance providers. And it’s true — platforms like Banking Circle and Weavr (both of whom I’ve worked for) have made it accessible for large retailers and brands to spin up innovative financial products that further add value, increase retention, and monetise customers. It allows organisations to seamlessly integrate products into their process flows — whether that’s helping eCommerce merchants optimise their cross border settlements or issuing virtual expense cards dynamically to employees.
Fintech, if you distil it down to its purest form, is not about APIs or Apps, these are merely tools. It is about accessibility. Taking something complex and making it so everyone can use it.
You can track this trend over the history of FinTech. Stripe, are the market leader in pretty much everything they touch. Why? They make everything accessible. Before Stripe the barrier to accepting card payments was too high — and it stifled innovation. Ideas couldn’t be converted to businesses because the acquirers on offer were cumbersome, inflexible, and probably were more interested in giving Toys ‘R’ Us online payments than your scrappy startup. With Stripe though, your scrappy startup can onboard, get a few lines of code, and be live in minutes.
In this same way, Monzo and Revolut are what Stripe is to Barclaycard. They made app-based banking accessible, onboarding easy, and payments between friends or overseas seamless. They didn’t invent banking, in fact, in the early stages, they just reskinned it. Sitting on top of sponsor banks and prepaid card rails.
This is where it gets interesting for the future of payments. The early startup/challenger banks had to cobble together a lot of their product from other providers. A little bit of Wirecard, a pinch of Jumio, a smidge of GPS, then hey presto! You’ve converted a tonne of back end processes into a digital product. A product that makes banking more accessible — but what about building a bank? Building a FinTech?
Matt Harris at Bain has an excellent piece on this transition. FinTech 1.0 as he calls it, is flipping Analog processes into Digital. FinTech 2.0 is flipping products into embedded services. You see now you don’t need to stand over a cauldron of agency relationships, seven third-party service providers, and try and work a pre-paid business built on early noughties tech into a servable dish. You can go to any number of BaaS providers and get the majority of what you need out of the box. Need cards — go to Weavr, need Merchant Cash Advance — go to Banking Circle/YouLend, want to optimise your payment acceptance — go to Finix and become your own Stripe.
Now in Matt Harris’ awesome piece (it really is you — should read it, and essentially anything he writes) he talks about FinTech 3.0 being Web3/decentralised. I don’t necessarily disagree. But there’s a challenge to solve first. The on-ramp for Web3 is extremely difficult - and not just the embarrassingly long time it took me to realise what those ‘gm’ and ‘red pill’ tweets meant. But there’s an even bigger on-ramp. And that’s tech itself.
We’ve talked about how businesses like Stripe made online payments more accessible, and then companies like Finix make becoming a Stripe more accessible. You can now build fintech products with someone else’s license and someone else’s direct access. Even with all this, the table stakes for building a FinTech are high — few have been able to bootstrap them. You’ve removed the initial compliance burden — which helps reduce the startup capital needed. You are perhaps a negotiation king and get access to most of these platforms at low cost, you have a solid and validated go-to-market plan — there’s just one snag — you don’t actually know your APIs from your IPAs.
This is still the greatest single barrier for founders building exciting things that change their industries. Everything else has been made accessible — but if you can’t code, you can’t build — you need an engineer, or a CTO, or a technical CoFounder — and if you’re not fortunate to have one in your circle of friends and family — then getting one blows up the bootstrapping model.
Thankfully there’s a solution to that problem now. And that’s in the emerging NoCode industry — which is the greatest thing to happen for potential founders and bootstrappers everywhere — including in FinTech. I couldn’t find the right website builder for ORMA — so I just built ORMA on a NoCode code platform (unicornplatform.com). It took a couple of hours. I then automated a tonne of processes off the back of it using Zapier. There are zero reasons you can’t build a FinTech on these platforms. In fact, people already are.
Wethos.co for instance, not only built their whole platform on Bubble.io — but they just launched banking services through it — also with No Code. Open — the neobank in India, has just launched Zwitch — a NoCode drag and drop banking service builder.
PayPal, Stripe, Monzo, Banking Circle, Weavr have all made it so you can access banking and payment rails easily. Businesses can build their ideas and FinTech products easier than ever before. And now Webflow, Outseta, UnicornPlatform, Bubble, and more have made it so any individual can build anything.
If the core of FinTech is accessibility, then NoCode represents the next leap forward. Let’s call it Fintech 2.5.