What Is Fintech? The Definitive Fintech Glossary
A quick reference guide to all things fintech

From cryptocurrency to DAO to robo-advisors, fintech is adding new words to the evolving business vocabulary as the industry continues to grow.

As the lexicon expands, here are some key fintech terms you need to know:

Blockchain: A digital ledger of transactions shared across a distributed network. Data on the blockchain is theoretically impossible to change or remove, making it a candidate for a shared secure global infrastructure. It is the technology that underpins Bitcoin.

Bitcoin: A form of encrypted digital currency. Created in 2009 under the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’, Bitcoin is made, stored, exchanged, and transferred digitally without the need for a bank. According to CNN, “though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs” – ensuring anonymity.

Cryptocurrency: An encrypted digital or virtual currency such as Bitcoin. Investopedia notes that because it is not issued or distributed by a central authority, it is “theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.”

Crowdfunding: Funding a venture through raising small amounts of money from a large group of people, as opposed to seeking funds from a venture capitalist, angel investor, or corporate sponsor. Individuals can provide funds as donations or in exchange for a product or service. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are popular crowdfunding platforms.

DAO: A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is akin to a digital organization “formed by groups of like-minded individuals with specific projects and goals in mind.” Its “software operates autonomously” and its by-laws are coded into the Ethereum blockchain, making them irrefutable.

Ethereum: Ethereum is a decentralized, public blockchain platform that ‘runs smart contracts’: peer-to-peer contracts that use cryptocurrency. By leveraging the blockchain, contracts are not subject to “downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.”

Fintech: A short form for ‘financial technology’. According to Fintech Weekly, it is “a line of business based on using software to provide financial services. Financial technology companies are generally startups founded with the purpose of disrupting incumbent financial systems and corporations that rely less on software such as banks.”

Mobile Payment: Also known as “mobile money, mobile money transfer, and mobile wallet,” mobile payment refers to “payment services operated under financial regulation and performed from or via a mobile device.” Most major financial institutions facilitate some form of mobile payments including e-transfers and credit card payments.

P2P Lending: Short for Peer-to-Peer Lending, it refers to lending and borrowing transactions that occur directly between individuals, and do not require facilitation or approval from a financial intermediary such as a bank. Examples include Lending Club and Lending Loop.

Payment Gateway: According to Webopedia, a Payment Gateway is a “service that automates the payment transaction between the shopper and merchant. It is usually a third-party service…that process, verify, and accept or decline credit card transactions on behalf of the merchant through secure Internet connections.” Prominent examples include PayPal and Moneris.

Robo-advisor: A robo-advisor is an online, automated advisor that provides financial advice or portfolio management, providing answers based on data and algorithms. Examples include Betterment and WealthSimple.