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One of the most talked-about sectors in 2021, financial technology, commonly known as fintech, is more than just a buzzword. This cutting-edge field is poised for explosive growth over the following decades. Financial organizations looking to keep up with the competition should hire STEM workers with the expertise to keep their company on the leading edge of fintech’s many applications. For STEM professionals looking to advance their careers, fintech offers a wealth of opportunities in a groundbreaking field through specialties like blockchain, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence (AI).  This tech field is transforming every aspect of the financial world with innovations in cryptocurrency, loans, trading, and more. As fintech gains greater relevance, both companies and STEM workers must stay aware of trends in this evolving sector.

Defining Fintech

Financial technology encompasses all applications of software used to automate and otherwise improve financial services. As the portmanteau suggests, fintech combines advanced technology like AI and data science with conventional financial function.1 A significant example of a transformative fintech application is mobile payments and monetary transfers, widely adopted by Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z. With the proliferation of mobile payment apps like Cash App and Venmo and mobile banking apps, consumers increasingly expect money management from the convenience of their cellphones.2 Fintech also includes technology related to risk management, financial security, digital lending, and more.

Up-and-Coming Trends

Ease-of-access is a major selling point for consumers fueling fintech’s adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more day-to-day activities going fully digital. Consumers can now access financial services that once required a drive to the bank from their smartphone, and social distancing emphasized this expediency. Reports indicate that the mobile wallet industry will be worth about 2.4 trillion dollars during 2021, a massive 24 percent growth rate from 2020.3 In 2021, large financial institutions will continue digitizing due to this demand. Digital banks will also gain prevalence due to cheaper, more efficient operations.4 Contactless transactions are another rising trend driven by COVID-19 restrictions. Data suggests that the market for contactless payments could reach a value of 18 billion dollars by 2025.5

Over the last decade, fintech has radically improved risk management with AI and cloud computing, stabilizing aspects of the finance industry. Blockchain, a tamperproof database system, will further revolutionize digital financial security in 2021, and data predicts blockchain solution spending will reach 15.9 billion dollars by 2023.4 Research also shows growing trust in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum, supported by Tesla’s recent multimillion-dollar bitcoin investment.5

Top Fintech Careers for the Future

A variety of careers are available in fintech, especially for technology professionals. One up-and-coming career is a position as a cybersecurity analyst. With the rise of online and cloud-based financial platforms, financial institutions deal with countless cyberattacks. This issue translates to a massive need for cybersecurity professionals. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures projects 2021 estimates of about 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.7 Following the trend of increased cybersecurity is growing demand for blockchain developers. Because blockchain technology eliminates unnecessary intermediaries, it boosts efficiency and speed while reducing cost.

As the financial sector rapidly evolves, many fintech businesses are seeking bank charters, resulting in a slew of regulatory issues to navigate. With fintech companies taking on new roles in banking, these organizations now need risk and compliance professionals to deal with regulations and analyze risk.

For mathematics experts, a position as a quantitative analyst allows the application of advanced math skills to finance. These professionals design trading programs and complex algorithms and advise large banks and hedge funds about decision-making to maximize profit. More applications of AI and machine learning mean that demand for this position will continue to grow. Alongside quantitative analysts, STEM professionals interested in specializing in AI and machine learning can pursue this niche as machine learning engineers.

Staying Ahead of the Cutting Edge

The pandemic has increased the adoption of certain fintech applications, but this transformative sector is here to stay. Convenient financial service applications have changed the ways consumers use banks, and advanced technologies are revolutionizing digital finance security. STEM professionals looking to make a living in an exciting, cutting-edge sector should look to fintech for the future of their careers. Likewise, finance and finance-adjacent organizations that recognize the power of this sector will outpace their competition as consumer preferences evolve. 

The right talent base is vital for organizations looking to stay ahead of technology trends. AllSTEM has the experience to help you find skilled science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) candidates to support your company goals. To find out more, visit AllSTEM at