Strictly speaking, FinTech is financial technology that’s been developed to enable or support financial services. But Ralph Ayala, chairman and managing partner of Armada Labs in Estero, defines it as more of a philosophy. “I think it’s more of a conceptual new way of doing business for this new generation,” he says.
He’s talking, of course, about the millennials. “[They] are used to getting everything quickly right here and now,” says Nick Varnitski, Armada Labs’ CEO and cofounder. “They’re used to getting information on their phones on demand, and they expect that same turnaround from normal business processes that have been out there for years. This is what FinTech enables businesses to offer.”
Armada Labs consults with companies about how FinTech could benefit them and helps develop custom technology solutions to meet their needs. Here are five things Ayala and Varnitski want Southwest Florida businesses to know about FinTech:
Embrace the potential or fall behind.
FinTech is becoming more of a necessity than a choice. “If you don’t take the best of this new approach, you are risking your business and you may become obsolete within several years,” says Varnitski. “This is what people expect from businesses; this is just the new way business is done in today’s modern world.”
It’s not just for companies involved in banking.
Armada Labs has worked with all kinds of clients in a variety of industries over its 16 years. For example, the company recently built a platform to help patients apply for payment plans with hospitals or other medical providers for procedures that may not be covered by insurance. So instead of filling out paperwork at the healthcare facility, and then waiting for that to be processed and get answered, patients can do everything on the mobile platform and get the payment plan created faster.
“In every business transaction there is a financial aspect,” says Varnitski. “So you can find an application for FinTech in every business.”
It’s not as expensive or overwhelming as you might think.
Ayala admits that taking your company from Point A to Point F can seem daunting, especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy. “But depending on the complexity of what your business does, it doesn’t have to cost a tremendous amount of money,” he says. “I think companies should look at it as something they’re going to have to do sooner rather than later. But it doesn’t have to be this exercise that is so overwhelming and this financial burden that they just can’t do.”
The cloud is a pretty safe place for your data to be.
“There used to be that misconception about the cloud that your data was sitting somewhere else in some server that you don’t even know where it’s located,” says Varnitski. “But your data is now considered to be more secure on the cloud rather than being on-premises or in some sort of data center managed and operated by you as company.” He points to Capital One’s decision to migrate core business and customer applications to the Amazon Web Services cloud platform as an example of a major company making this move.
Choosing the right technology partner is key.
Armada Labs does a lot of listening when meeting with potential clients to learn more about how each specific business is run and who its customers are. That helps them recommend solutions to address particular needs or problem areas.
“I would tell people to be careful with a company that comes in and just wants to tell you that they know everything,” says Ayala. “If you’re dealing with a good company, they’re going to ask a lot of questions.”
But a good technology company will also have a lot of answers, so it’s important for businesses to keep an open mind. “You know how to run your business; you probably have some special approach or some secret sauce that works for you and makes your company run,” says Varnitski. “But at the same time, listen to what [the technology company] has to say and the alternatives they may suggest. Understand that this is a two-way street and that communication needs to happen on both sides.”