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Karan Shanmugarajah, CEO, WealthKernel

In an era of fintech innovation, banking outside of a bank branch is now the widespread norm, as we have all become accustomed to accessing and managing our finances with the press of a few buttons. Through embedded finance, we’ve seen fintech influence our lives even further in recent years, enabling non-financial providers to seamlessly embed financial products into their customer journeys.

by Karan Shanmugarajah, CEO, WealthKernel 

However, the success of embedded finance is now highlighting an untapped opportunity – embedded wealth. Just as embedded finance has enabled customers to access payment, lending and insurance products from non-traditional providers, embedded wealth will see businesses integrating wealth and investment services for their customers. With the technology for embedded wealth now readily available, it might not be long before you can buy stocks and shares alongside your meal deal of crisps, a sandwich and a drink.

The rise of embedded finance

If you are reading this article on a smartphone, there is a good chance that the next app you open uses embedded finance. Everything from the ride-hailing app Uber to the food delivery service Deliveroo, is now integrating financial solutions to give customers more convenient payment options. This opportunity offered by embedded finance has seen widespread adoption, with research from Juniper projecting a value of $138 billion in 2026, a dramatic increase of $95 billion from 2021 (Juniper, 2021).

What makes embedded finance so appealing for businesses are the low costs and easy integration compared to traditional bank offerings. All processes relating to money management from digital wallets like Apple Pay to the over $4.07 billion BNPL industry (Grandview Research, 2021) fall under this remit of financial products offered under embedded finance. There are other benefits beyond cost to integrating financial products into a business’ offering – allowing for monetisation based on their established brand. By integrating these third party financial services, businesses can gain increased insight into customer spending and allow for a data-driven approach to further improve customer experience. Due to the relatively low costs, companies can also experiment with a broader offering without compromising heavily on revenue or reputation; for instance, Uber was able to quickly de-prioritise its financial service Uber money, a digital wallet allowing drivers instant payments.

By embedding finance, customers can also pay or access a financial product instantly without searching for their physical credit or debit cards. Popular coffee brands such as Costa and Starbucks now even offer embedded payments through their apps, letting customers pick up reward points or pay through the company app. Customers can also top up this card using Apple and GooglePay.

The market opportunity for embedded wealth

Embedded wealth is essentially an extension of embedded finance – offering regulated wealth and investment products from a non-wealth body, typically via API. This could see customers invest, trade, and access various wealth products beyond payment and lending services.

Embedded finance has already added tremendous value to the customer journey. The blueprints of this, applied to wealth and investment, could make investing and saving more attainable for a wide array of consumers. For a business already offering its customers payments and lending services, wealth and investment could be a natural progression to improve experiences. Typically ‘wealth management’ brings to mind a service offered to individuals with significant amounts of cash or assets to invest. However, embedded wealth could see investment products offered to customers with even smaller amounts to invest or grow or to those who may have not even considered investing previously. There is a real opportunity to broaden access to investing through embedded wealth as customers become more accustomed to utilising financial products offered by familiar brands. With API-enabled wealth technology now readily available, it can be offered at a lower, more-accessible cost for many.

For consumers experiencing significant life changes- whether purchasing a home or planning retirement – a familiar brand integrating wealth management offerings could help provide security and confidence. This has become particularly relevant since the pandemic, where trust in financial services has shifted drastically, with fintechs surpassing banks in levels of trust, according to Mckinsey (2021).

We should also consider customer loyalty to everyday brands like supermarkets or retailers where embedded wealth could provide value. A recent study conducted by Solarisbank revealed that 61 per cent of respondents indicated a willingness to use financial products from trusted brands such as Amazon, Lidl and IKEA (Solarisbank, 2021).

Embedded wealth could help onboard customers who may not have previously considered investing with a financial institution, but are open to the idea of it with a business they are loyal to. A well-placed wealth offering could allow for longer-term customer relationships, as customers would see this business as not only a provider of their favourite products but also as a place to grow and invest their money.

Adding embedded wealth to your shopping list

So with the potential of embedded wealth on the horizon, could our new supermarket list of milk, eggs, bread… include stocks and shares? With technology now making the possibilities for embedded wealth potentially endless, it wouldn’t be surprising if we soon see this scenario become a reality.

Retailers are already recognising the potential of integrating financial products into their platforms, so wealth products could be a logical next step. Walmart, for example, recently announced its transition into the fintech space by partnering with fintech investment firm Ribbit Capital to provide its customers with tech-driven financial solutions (Business Wire, 2021).

For supermarkets already providing banking and savings products, or even credit cards, an investment portfolio may even already be on the to-do list – helping customers with money already saved with them to grow their finances even further. Additionally, most supermarkets today also offer loyalty or point schemes, allowing customers to save up points and spend them in-store. Could a potential entry-level embedded investment product see customers invest these points to grow their money in-store?

And so, as the appetite for wealth, investment and trading services has seen widespread growth across fintech in recent years – investment portfolios developed by retailers and supermarket chains could be on the horizon. With a recent OpenPayd study revealing that 70 per cent of brands are expected to launch embedded finance offerings (OpenPayd, 2021), it might not be long before we see a level of usage of embedded wealth by notable brands.

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