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Fintech companies hold key to $2 trillion SME funding gap

Fintech companies are leading the way in disruptive innovation in financial services, helping to bridge a $2 trillion funding gap for millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking credit to grow their business.

This is the conclusion of a white paper released today by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Finance & Capital.

According to the paper, fintech entrepreneurs are disrupting SME financing by offering such tailored services to SMEs as invoice and supply chain financing, equity crowd funding and SME-to-SME lending. It also noted that equity investment into the fintech businesses quadrupled to $12 billion in 2014, up from $4 billion in 2013.

A graphic illustration of Stylized SME Balance Sheet and the Impact of FinTech Solutions

Stylized SME Balance Sheet and the Impact of FinTech Solutions

“Financing for SMEs is lacking although there is an ample amount of cash ready to get deployed”, said Michael Koenitzer, Financial Inclusion Project Lead at the World Economic Forum and Council manager. “But in this case fintech disruptors are increasingly filling the gap banks and investors leave. SMEs can turn to them to get the credit needed to grow their business, as fintech is providing a much needed relief to small businesses around the world.”

The need for SME financing is widespread. The UK, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Nigeria, Morocco, China, Canada and Argentina are among the dozens of countries worldwide where businesses indicate access to finance as a top three concern for doing business, the recent World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 showed, a consequence of the global financial crisis.

“Small businesses account for more than half of the world’s GDP and two-thirds of all employment”, said Peer Stein, Director of Finance and Markets Global Practice at the World Bank Group. “If fintech can provide levers to help them succeed, we should create the right environment to make this happen.”

“‘The overwhelming consensus is that fintech has successfully started to gain traction in recent years and there remains huge further potential for the sector to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to tap the funding gap for SMEs,” said Peter Tufano, Dean of the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford.

As part of the white paper, a team of MBA students at his school spoke to more than 100 chief executives, bank executives and investors on the issue.

In the last decade, innovations in hospitality such as Airbnb or in transport such as Uber have significantly changed paradigms in those industries while drastically improving customer experience. “Innovations have always disrupted established industries,” said Arnaud Ventura, Co-founder of Positive PlaNet Foundation and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the MicroCred Group. “This report looks at how fintech-related innovations could improve SMEs access to finance. We strongly believe that innovations in this field will contribute to improving the state of the world.”

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