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商业 - 科技

科技金融热:炒作还是现实?看看这六大关键领域就知道了

Matt Harris 2018年08月13日

今年第一季度投入金融科技领域里的资金已经超过54亿美元,而且依然没有放缓的迹象。

事实再次证明我错了。

八年来我一直预测科技金融投资将止步不前。而就2018年年初的局面而言,情况并非如此。实际上,今年第一季度投入金融科技领域里的资金已经超过54亿美元,而且依然没有放缓的迹象。大家可以比较一下,2014年全年的金融科技投资还略低于40亿美元,也就是说四年时间里增长了五倍。研究机构Venture Scanner的数据显示,2001年的金融科技投资约为3亿美元。

但所谓的“金融科技”有点儿像个字谜。上个月我们和风投机构Nyca Partners共同举办了金融科技CEO峰会。就像我在会上告诉听众的那样,得到我们投资的那些CEO经营的实际上并不是“金融科技企业”,其中有支付公司,有贷款公司,也有人开发投资技术,或者向银行、保险公司或房地产开发商推销他们的产品。

无论风投对有限合伙人说什么,也不管媒体怎样报道这个行业,这些公司之间未必有很大的瓜葛(除了显而易见的资本流动)。因此,尽管投资规模不断积累,但各个子行业之间的差异非常大。目前的实际情况值得我们更深入地进行探究。

支付:来过,做过

10年前“金融科技”就等同于“支付”,原因是杰克·多尔西让硅谷的支付变得很酷。现在的情况已经截然不同。新建立的金融科技初创企业中几乎看不到支付公司的影子,近几年的初期融资额也在不断下滑。据我统计,2012年成立了大约90家支付公司,而2017年这个数字已经跌至10家以下。Billtrust和AvidXchange等商业支付公司仍有一定的受众(充分披露一下,我的团队对这些公司有投资),但如果跟踪趋势就会发现,今年或以后都不会出现大批支付类初创公司了。

那么能量都跑到哪里了呢?答案是加密货币。和如今的加密货币公司创始人见面后,我可以把他们想象为几年前创立支付公司的那批人。二者有许多同样的基因,有类似的工程人才,其中一些的终端市场甚至都一样。

风投规模:2016年为16亿美元(来源:CB Insights)

初创能量:微乎其微,均处于末期

贷款:金融色彩盖过了科技

贷款公司近来日子不好过,2017年只获得了40亿美元投资,而且投资规模正在迅速下滑,特别是早期投资。贷款的交易和商品属性总是带来很大困难,现在投资界对这些初创公司的定义正在从科技公司变为贷款公司——Lending Club和OnDeck就是很明显的例子。GreenSky最近顺利首发上市,Funding Circle也蓄势待发,那就让我们看看它们能否改变投资者的想法。

风投规模:2017年为40亿美元(来源:CB Insights)

初创能量:快速滑坡,有待IPO的提振

财富/投资:争相变成银行

年复一年,财富科技公司在金融科技投资中一直稳定地占据一成份额。一种长期观点是它们代表着真正的颠覆机会。当下比较有意思的趋势之一是所有已经上了规模的财富和投资公司,比如SoFi、Acorns和Wealthfront(再披露一下,我的团队一直在支持Acorns),都在做同一件事,那就是提供支票账户服务。大家可以一概而论,认为它们都想变成银行。不一定是有牌照的银行,而是打算通过第三方和新技术成为消费者的首要财务伙伴。

这对我来说真的很耐人寻味,而且也给我们的行业和社会带来了一个重大问题,那就是消费者会放弃传统银行吗?他们会向自己的公司提交新的直存授权书,然后说“把我的工资存到Betterment、Acorns或者SoFi那里”吗?这确实是个新现象。如果真是这样,金融科技就会迎来一个全新时代,那时候银行就会走出眼下的“帝国反击战”阶段,而且现在它们就会开始感到担心。这并不是说,如果不是这样财富科技就完蛋了,但所有这些公司同时出现同样的想法是一件引人关注的事。

风投规模:2017年为12亿美元(来源:CB Insights)

初创能量:保持稳定

保险:增长迅速推动全面发展

保险初创公司目前确实是个焦点。Oscar和众安保险等公司的融资规模在一年时间里从零增至数十亿美元,在此期间,它们决定全面发展。在历史上,Insureon和Zenefits两家保险初创企业只不过是经纪商或者对总代理人进行管理,但越来越多的人认为初创公司需要承保。我当然理解这样的冲动,因为如果不控制产品,资金就会被别人掌握。所以我明白这一点。但承保机构的权益回报率约为9%。风投没有理由向承保机构投资。一点儿也没有。

今后,保险类科技公司需要把这件事想清楚。它将决定是保险真的发生转变,还是出现一大堆有着花哨app的经纪商。另外,第二种情况并不会创造出很多权益价值。

风投规模:2017年为14亿美元(来源:CB Insights)

初创能量:处于尴尬的青少年时期

房地产:全面颠覆

房地产和加密货币是增长最多的两个领域。世界上最新出现的10家独角兽公司中,有五家在房地产行业,它们是Compass、OpenDoor、WeWork、爱彼迎和UCommune,无论大家是否这么看这些公司。以OpenDoor为例,它发明了真正的“房地产”中介方法。这家公司并不是按售价的6%收取佣金,而是先把房地产买下来,然后找下家,通过买卖差价来赚钱。现在Zillow说他们也在这样做,其他一些公司也在迅速跟进。这个乏味的难以想象的行业,这个100年来都没有变化的行业正在经历重塑。

风投规模:2017年为12亿美元(来源:PitchBook)

初创能量:领跑者快速前进

加密货币/区块链:该认真起来了

对加密货币我们能说什么呢?在去年的金融科技CEO峰会上,我们说到了首次代币发行(ICO)会以怎样的方式把人送进监狱。虽然还没有人因此入狱,但这事很难说。ICO的规模仍在膨胀,今年3月曾达到41亿美元的高点,但一般来说每个月的规模约为15亿美元。此外,政府发出的声音越来越响,也越来越清晰,那就是这可不是什么避风港。

除了ICO,我们在研究加密货币领域时把它分成了三部分,分别是加密货币投资生态系统、企业区块链和分布式应用。

对于第一部分,关键问题在于加密货币会成为一种资产吗?我暂时认为答案是肯定的。这个投资生态系统目前正在顺利成熟,Basis和Compound等几家走在前面的公司(最后披露一下,这两家都是我们投资的公司)正在打造市场结构的关键组成部分,其假设前提是今后人们会希望更多地进行大规模加密货币交易。

就企业区块链而言,它真的是一个独立行当吗?基于新闻报道判断,这个市场正在蓬勃发展,但如果在验证概念之余还要获得收入,这个市场就算不上繁荣。在初期阶段,我们暂时对这个问题说“不”,但出色的创业者们正在为此付出努力,而且我确信他们将证明我们是错的。

最后,分布式应用堪称一项大奖。它显然才刚刚起步,但人才正在向这里聚集。未来的爱彼迎、Uber和Amazon Web Services真的会变成由代币驱动的开源协议,进而改变我们存储文件、预定房间、订票和管理行程的方式吗?我不知道这种局面什么时候到来,但我相信它会到来。总有这么一天。

风投规模:2017年为7.16亿美元(来源:CB Insights)

初创能量:热火朝天,全面爆发

红利趋势:新老势力合二为一?

刚刚进入金融科技领域时,这个行业的主要参与者是把产品卖给银行的供应商。在我们这些开始投资的人中,许多人都把自己摆在对立面,他们说不,金融科技创业者能比现有公司做的更好。现在,大银行越来越想了解那些它们应该纳入采购范围的新供应商,这样就可以跟后者合作并采用它们的技术,从而让自己变得更像现代企业。

这些银行如今也开始收购上述“挑战者”。去年我还不会做出这样的预测,而摩根大通、高盛、Capital One和西班牙对外银行目前都在这样做。这些银行认为收购金融科技公司并非禁忌。对所有跟我们合作的人来说,这都是一个重大而积极的变化。就让我们看看它能持续多长时间吧。(财富中文网)

马特·哈里斯是贝恩风投董事总经理。他一直是科技金融方面的顶尖投资人之一,从2000年起一直在这个领域活动。

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

I’ve been proven wrong once again.

For eight years running, I’ve predicted that fintech investment is going to plateau. Based on the start of 2018, it hasn’t yet. In fact, we saw more than $5.4 billion invested in fintech during the first quarter of the year, with no signs of slowing momentum. For perspective, fintech investment for all of 2014 was just under $4 billion, so that’s “5x” growth in four years. In 2001, per data from Venture Scanner, it was something like $300 million.

With that said, this whole “fintech” thing is kind of a charade. As I shared with attendees last month during our annual Fintech CEO Summit, co-hosted together with Nyca Partners, the CEOs in our portfolios don’t actually run “fintech businesses.” They run a payments business or a lending business, or they build investing technologies, or they sell to banks or insurance or real estate companies.

Regardless of what VCs tell limited partners, or how media cover the industry, these businesses don’t necessarily have much to do with each other (besides the obvious of moving money around). So while the investment numbers are up in aggregate, each sub-sector has a very different story. And it’s worth diving in more deeply to understand what’s really going on.

Payments: Been there, done that

Ten years ago, “fintech” equaled “payments” because Jack Dorsey made payments cool in Silicon Valley. That’s very different now. Payments is a distinct minority of new fintech startups, and early-stage funding has dipped over the past few years. In 2012, about 90 payment companies were founded by my count. In 2017, that number dropped down below 10. Commercial payment companies like Billtrust and AvidXchange are still having a bit of a moment (full disclosure: my team has invested in these firms), but if you follow the trends, you won’t see tons of payment startups this year or going forward.

Where did the energy go? Cryptocurrency. When I meet with cryptocurrency founders today, I can imagine those folks a few years ago being payments founders. It’s a lot of the same DNA, similar engineering talent, and even some of the same end markets.

Venture investment: $1.6 billion in 2016 (Source: CB Insights)

Startup energy: Slim to none, all late stage

Lending: More fin than tech

The lending sector is a tough business these days, with investment of just $4 billion in 2017 and dropping fast, especially in early stages. The transactional and commodity natures of lending always made it hard, and now the investment community re-rated those startups from technology companies to lending companies—Lending Club and OnDeck being the obvious examples. With GreenSky recently having a successful public debut and Funding Circle waiting in the wings, we’ll see if they can change investors’ minds.

Venture investment: $4.0 billion in 2017 (Source: CB Insights)

Startup energy: Declining fast, pending IPO boost

Wealth/Investing: Race to the bank

Wealth tech companies get a steady 10% of fintech investment year after year. There’s a durable view that they show real opportunity for disruption. One of the more interesting trends right now is that all the wealth and investment companies that have achieved scale—like SoFi, Acorns, and Wealthfront (another disclosure: my team has backed Acorns)—are doing the same thing: They’re adding a checking account. You could paint with a broad brush and say they are all trying to become banks. Not necessarily licensed banks, but rather, leveraging third parties and new technologies to try to become a consumer’s primary financial partner.

This is really fascinating to me and raises a key question for our industry, and our society: Will consumers bail on traditional banks? Will they go to their employer with a new direct deposit authorization form and say “send my money to Betterment, to Acorns, to SoFi”? This is truly a new phenomenon. If it works, there’s a whole new era of fintech coming, where the banks go from the “Empire Strikes Back” phase that they’re in right now—and they start to worry again. It doesn’t mean wealth tech is toast if it doesn’t work, but it’s striking that all these companies had the same ideas at the same time.

Venture investment: $1.2 billion in 2017 (Source: CB Insights)

Startup energy: Steady as she goes

Insurance: Fast growth leads to full stack

Insurance startups are really at a pivot right now. Companies like Oscar or ZhongAn have scaled from nothing to billions a year in funding, and in the process, they’ve decided to be full stack. Historically, insurance startups Insureon and Zenefits were simply brokers or managing general agents, but increasingly there’s a take that startups need to be(come) carriers. I certainly understand that instinct—if you don’t control the product, someone else controls the capital. So, I get it. But return on equity for carriers tends to be around 9%. It doesn’t make sense for a VC to invest in a carrier. Not at all.

Moving forward, the insurance tech players need to figure this out. It will be the difference between insurance getting really transformed or having a bunch of brokers with fancy apps. And that second future is not going to create a lot of equity value.

Venture investment: $1.4 billion in 2017 (Source: CB Insights)

Startup energy: Awkward teenage years

Real Estate: Disruption in full effect

Real estate and crypto are the two areas where we see the most growth. In real estate, five of the venture world’s 10 most recent unicorns—Compass, OpenDoor, WeWork, Airbnb and UCommune—are real estate companies, whether you think of them that way or not. OpenDoor, for instance, invented a true “prop” brokerage, where they don’t broker a sale for 6%, but instead buy the property, find another buyer and make money on the spread. Zillow now says they’re doing the same thing, and there have been a bunch of fast followers. This incredibly stodgy industry—which hasn’t changed in a hundred years—is getting re-made.

Venture investment: $1.2 billion in 2017 (Source: PitchBook)

Startup energy: First-movers moving fast

Cryptocurrency/Blockchain: Time to get serious

What can we say about crypto? Last year at our Fintech CEO Summit, we talked about how people were going to go to jail for initial coin offerings (ICOs). No one has gone to jail yet, but it’s tricky. ICO volume is still frothy, with a peak of $4.1 billion raised in March but otherwise running at roughly $1.5 billion a month. Plus, the noise out of government is getting louder and clearer that this is not some sort of safe harbor.

Beyond ICOs, we think about the crypto space in three parts: the crypto investing ecosystem, enterprise blockchain, and distributed applications.

For the first, a key question is: Will crypto be an asset class? Provisionally, I believe the answer is “yes.” The investing ecosystem is now maturing nicely, and several pioneers like Basis and Compound (last disclosure: both are portfolio companies), are filling in key elements of market structure, assuming people want to trade crypto at scale more in the future.

Regarding enterprise blockchain, is it actually a standalone business? The market is thriving if you count press releases, but not if you look for revenueoutside of proof-of-concept. We provisionally said “no” to this question in the early days, but we have great entrepreneurs working on it—and I’m sure they’ll prove us wrong.

Finally, distributed applications are the big prize. It’s clearly early days, but this is where the talent is heading. Will the Airbnb, Uber, and Amazon Web Services of the future simply be open source protocols powered by tokens that change the way we store our files, book our houses, book our travel, and manage our transportation? I don’t know when, but I believe we’ll get there. Someday.

Venture investment: $716 million in 2017 (Source: CB Insights)

Startup energy: Wild, wild west (and east and north and south)

Bonus trend: Incumbents and insurgents unite?

When I started in fintech, the industry was primarily made up of vendors that sold to banks. Many of us who started investing set ourselves in opposition to that and said, No, fintech can be entrepreneurs who do a better job than the incumbents. Now, the big banks increasingly want to know about new vendors they should push through procurement, so they can partner and deploy their technology to become more like modern companies.

Those banks are also now acquiring the insurgents. I would not have predicted this last year, but JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Capital One, and BBVA have processes that are under way right now. The banks have decided it is not taboo to buy fintech companies. That’s a meaningful and positive change for everyone with whom we work. We’ll see how lasting it is.

Matt Harris is a managing director at Bain Capital Ventures. He is consistently ranked as one of the top investors in fintech, having participated in the space since 2000.

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