Taming the Beast: A Scientific Definition of Fintech

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Patrick Schueffel


There is currently no consensus about what the term Fintech means. This paper explores the complexity of Fintech, and attempts a definition, drawn from a process of reviewing more than 200 scholarly articles referencing the term Fintech and covering a period of more than 40 years. The objective of this study is to offer a definition which is distinct as well as succinct in its communication, yet sufficiently broad in its range of application. As the origins of the term can neither be unequivocally placed in academia nor in practice, the definition concentrates on extracting out the quintessence of Fintech using both spheres. Applying semantic analysis and building on the commonalities of 13 peer-reviewed definitions of the term, it is concluded that Fintech is a new financial industry that applies technology to improve financial activities. The implications as well as the shortcomings of this definition are discussed.

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Author Biography

Patrick Schueffel, Hochschule für Wirtschaft Fribourg

Patrick Schueffel is a professor at the Institute of Finance at Fribourg’s School of Management. His research interests focus on the areas of Entrepreneurship in Banking & Finance, Innovation, and International Business. He has published widely in academic as well as practitioner journals in Switzerland and internationally. Prior to his academic career professor Schueffel held various senior positions at banks in Switzerland. Among others he served as the Chief Operating Officer of Saxo Bank Switzerland and as a director at Credit Suisse’s Private Banking Division. At Credit Suisse he was the responsible global innovation officer of the one-thousand employee strong organizational unit “Investment Services & Products”. He holds a doctorate degree from Henley Business School at the University of Reading/UK, a Master Degree from the Norwegian School of Economics and Diploma from Mannheim University/Germany.