Efma Review 2021: Navigating disruption 17 February 2021

2020 was unprecedented by virtually every measure. A once-in-a-century pandemic swept the globe, upending everyone’s lives in its wake. People have been forced, or chosen, to stay home most of the year. Many businesses have been shut down, reopened, and then shut down once more. Governments and central banks have provided critical support to their economies in order to stave off the worst economic effects of this crisis. For many, it has been a difficult transition to our ‘new normal’, the term so often employed since March.

That is why the theme of our annual review is ‘navigating disruption.’ Often, our publications note certain disruptive players and innovations in the financial services industry. This year, however, the biggest disruption did not come from a fintech or insurtech. Instead, it was the exogenous shock of the pandemic. Yet, amidst the trying circumstances, there was ample opportunity for the most innovative players to stand out. Flexibility and digital tools are no longer nice-to-haves but essential to business continuity. Those companies that were able to quickly adapt their operations, both for their employees and their customers, have managed this crisis more adeptly. And those institutions that had invested time and resources into their digital capabilities in preceding years have been able to weather this storm far better than those that delayed their digital investments.

In this review, we look specifically at four areas that have driven the conversation in the financial services space: how Covid-19 has accelerated pre-existing trends, SME banking and its crucial support for businesses, open banking and partnerships, and insurance and insurtech. For each topic, we have selected our most engaging reports, interviews, and articles. From institutions, members, and industry experts from across the globe, we are sure you will find the material engaging as you reflect on this past year and look forward to the next.

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