FinTech Interview Series: Suzie Neuwirth at P2P Finance News
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a business journalist, having previously worked at a range of trade publications and a number of newspapers including City AM, the Express and the i. I set up my own business in 2016 and launched Peer2Peer Finance News.
Tell us about Peer2Peer Finance News
Peer2Peer Finance News is the UK’s first magazine dedicated to the fast-growing peer-to-peer lending industry. I felt there was a real gap in the market for good quality, focused coverage of this exciting sector and luckily I was right! We have a highly engaged, targeted readership from the peer-to-peer lending industry and its investor community.
How important is Digital Media becoming?
I think print and digital are two halves of the same walnut. Peer2Peer Finance News has a monthly print title, which purely contains new and exclusive content, and it also offers real-time news reporting on the website. Print media is proven to attract higher levels of engagement so this is a great opportunity to provide our readers with longer analysis pieces and features. However, you cannot ignore the importance of digital media in this day and age – people need fast and accurate news without waiting for the next print publication to arrive! Digital media is essential for any news outlet in order to remain competitive and serve your audience properly.
How has the sector changed since you started?
The sector has grown and matured so much since I launched the magazine. The sheer volume of news has increased rapidly, platforms have evolved and new players have entered the market. From a journalist’s perspective this has been great as there has been so much innovation to write about.
Do you think P2P would be able to cope with a recession? The performance figures are good, but we haven't really seen a full cycle.
It’s impossible to give a definitive answer to this as I don’t have a crystal ball unfortunately! However I do feel confident that the industry as a whole will be able to cope in an economic downturn. Critics of the sector talk about its relative nascence as if that translates into inexperience, but the vast majority of platforms have experienced people on their teams who were working in the lending industry during the last recession. It’s feasible that certain platforms could fall by the wayside but I think the industry as a whole will be resilient.
Is FinTech actually different? We've always been consumers and developers of technology in financial services.
Yes and no. I think great examples of fintech offer different technology solutions from the incumbents that really benefit the end-user. However there are certainly some fintechs around that are basically financial services firms in sheep’s clothing – not really doing anything different but using the ‘fintech’ terminology to pretend that they are.
Can regulation keep up?
The Financial Conduct Authority has acknowledged the difficulty of balancing regulation and innovation – it’s important to oversee the fintech sector properly without stifling the creativity which makes it what it is. I think regulation can keep up to some extent but it’s hard work.
Is the London-based FinTech machine losing steam?
Certainly not! Investment into UK fintech hit a record high of $20.7bn (£15.5bn) in 2018, according to KPMG research. Of course Brexit is a concern but until we know the outcome I think it’s important to keep going as usual. The sheer amount of fintech events, incubators for fintech start-ups and investor interest in the sector is unparalleled and I think it would take a lot for London to lose its status as a fintech hub.
What are your favourite FinTech innovations?
Obviously I’m heavily biased so I’d have to say within the peer-to-peer lending space! Many platforms have created in-house technology that has substantially improved the experience for their customers, in terms of speed, customer service and accessibility. I’m also excited to see the development of new solutions in the sector involving AI and blockchain.