Digital communications have given birth to a new generation of finance companies (see article). Money-transfer agents such as Xoom have drastically cut the time and costs for migrant workers to send money home. Peer-to-peer lenders are matching savers and borrowers, slashing fees and delivering a better deal to both. New foreign-exchange firms are giving travellers access to the prices quoted on wholesale currency markets. Card companies such as Square and iZettle let anyone from yoga teachers to plumbers accept payments by credit card. Firms such as M-Pesa have given millions of people in developing countries access to mobile money.
Creating a financial-tech company is arduous. Whereas it takes less than a day to register a company in Britain, it takes months or years and can cost millions to get authorised as a bank. The number of new banks started over the past decade can almost be counted on one hand.