With more than 1,440 global deals and an estimated $14.7 Billion investment, 2016 was a booming year for FinTech. FinTechs around the globe raised a total of $5.2 Billion across 251 deals in Q2 2017 — a 19% increase from last year, According to CB Insights.

With so many dollars flowing and deals happening in the FinTech world, there’s lots to talk about.

Most often, the buzz seems to be around:

  • Cool technology
  • Huge investments
  • Disruption and reinvention of financial services
  • Lucrative exits or flameouts of high-profile startups

Stories of scrappy startups taking on megabanks make compelling reading, especially if those startups somehow reach Unicorn status.

What next billion?

The buzz around current billion-dollar deals often drowns out news from the other end of the economic spectrum.

The so-called “Next Billion” in the developing world and now coming online to join the world’s approximately 3.5 billion internet users.

Woman working in field next billion people content marketing factory

Some of today’s most interesting FinTech news isn’t coming from cutting-edge organizations in Silicon Valley, New York and London.

The Next Billion are often people who lack access to even basic financial services. There are a number of FinTech companies focused on bringing secure banking, payment systems, credit and investment to millions of people who have never had them before.

ome of today’s most interesting FinTech news isn’t coming from cutting-edge organizations in Silicon Valley, New York and London.

The Next Billion are often people who lack access to even basic financial services. There are a number of FinTech companies focused on bringing secure banking, payment systems, credit and investment to millions of people who have never had them before.

The promise of better-faster-cheaper-more transparent financial services is clearly a boon too all.

But that promise means something very different, depending on your position in the world economic order.

A Wow Moment:

  • In mature markets may be related to process and convenience. Instead of spending days wrestling with paperwork, you can apply for a mortgage from your tablet in minutes. Impressive. Certainly valuable. But not life-changing.
  • In emerging markets may mean an entrepreneur in Africa or Central America has access to credit and business resources for the first time. The opportunity for millions of people with no financial history to establish a a business reputation and creditworthiness FinTech can change the world.

Similar technology – mobile apps, APIs and network access — provides access to credit, transaction management and risk evaluation, but enable very different business models.

The rising tide and all boats

The promise of FinTech is to help people lead better financial lives, but the potential goes far beyond helping investors mitigate risk and fatten their margins.

Democratizing finance with broader access to more services at less cost can bring unprecedented growth and change. Millions of new creators, investors, ideas, and opportunities streaming into the financial world, creating the proverbial bigger pie for everyone.

After all, why stop at changing an industry when there is a chance to change the world? Here are a few organizations focused on the opportunities of the Next Billion:

Juvo: San Francisco-based Juvo’s tagline is “Financial inclusion for all.” The company provides technology that enables mobile network operators to provide subscribers with access to financial services, many for the first time. Juvo analyzes mobile users’ behavior to create an “identity score” that access to life-transforming benefits like banking, small business and education loans, insurance, and even healthcare. Juvo claims 360 million subscribers across 23 countries.

Kiva is a non-profit organization that leverages the web to enable crowdsourced lending. Typically, lenders in more developed countries make small loans to low-income entrepreneurs and students around the world. Kiva’s platform enables lenders to select the types of borrowers and causes they would like to lend to. Since 2005, Kiva has crowd-funded more than a million loans, totaling nearly $950 million — and is said to have a repayment rate of over 97%.

Payoneer is a global payment system that connects cost-conscious professionals around the world with its innovative cross-border payments platform. Like its competitors, Payoneer is fast and secure. This efficient payments platform offers a lower-cost alternative to established players for many types of transactions. It’s well-positioned to take advantage of the millions of individual transactions that now occur between established and emerging markets.

The Revolution will be Analyzed

Unlike previous generations of financial services, the Next Billion will be coming online in a digital age where all is measurable.

That means that the Next Billion could conceivably have an comprehensive record of every financial transaction they will ever make. With the promise of distributed ledger technology’s speed and efficiency, global finance could look dramatically different than it does today in just a few years.

Working in FinTech, I often receive invites to webinars and conferences that focus on finding the next big growth investing opportunity. It seems like focusing on the organizations that are helping to bring the Next Billion online is a good way to keep a finger on the pulse of FinTech.

The impact of the millions of newly connected users coming online will cause profound changes in global communication, technology, education and politics that reach far beyond finance.

That’s why the real revolution in FinTech isn’t about the Next Billion Dollars, it’s about the Next Billion people.