FISPAN: Embedded Banking Will Position Businesses To Thrive Post-Pandemic


Lisa Shields, founder and CEO of FISPAN, shares her hopes and predictions for the future of banking and payments in 2021. “Initiatives like open banking can help unlock financial data for small businesses and let them share it with many potential lenders,” she says in “A Look Forward: What Executives Wish for America and the World in 2021.”

My wish for 2021 is that as small businesses across the country emerge from the ruin of 2020 and reopen their doors, they can fully participate in sophisticated global supply chains and act as local point-of-service distribution centers. My hope is that banks, payments providers, and FinTech companies will be able to collaborate to launch the services and solutions that can remove the technical burden for business users and eliminate the need for them to become payments experts, allowing them to focus on growing their business.

The groundwork has been laid to make finance embedded in a more standardized way. Initiatives like open banking can help unlock financial data for small businesses and let them share it with many potential lenders. Some small businesses have been left out of relief programs, and have felt the burn, or even been forced to shutter. This may have happened because they don’t meet the requirements or because banks refused them based on standard pre-pandemic criteria.

Part of the reason some tech companies (such as Amazon and Shopify) have gone into small business lending is that they hold cash flow and accounts receivable data for their customers that allow them to underwrite efficiently. But banks hold vastly more raw data. By partnering with FinTechs and payments companies in 2021, this raw data can be contextualized to bring underwriting efficiency to more categories of Main Street businesses. Even brick-and-mortar small businesses have transitioned in the last year to online order acceptance, cloud procurement and cloud accounting.

Facilitating digital invoice exchange between global buyers and small business suppliers or integrating SMB foreign exchange and contract financing services are examples of massive opportunities for payments providers in 2021 that are ready for the taking. By connecting the tools and services that small businesses use with electronic payments rails, digital B2B commerce can become an invisible and ubiquitous part of daily life on Main Street.

At FISPAN, we are very bullish on the future and the role that banks can play by connecting their products and services to the business applications used by their clients. By starting to make banking and commerce embedded in a democratized way, businesses will be positioned to thrive, which will in turn enable communities to thrive.