The Tearsheet guide to fintech jargon for 2021

  • The world of financial technology is sounding like an increasingly niche space where jargon is becoming something of a currency.
  • Our updated termsheet will help you cut through the noise to understand what everything really means.

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The Tearsheet guide to fintech jargon for 2021

Another year gone by, and more inventive language to show for it.

In the midst of the pandemic, financial services turned faster and harder to technology as physical locations closed and customers and employees were forced to shelter in place. Jargon has become more of a currency now than ever. The main players are getting better at talking about what they do and why — but they struggle with the how.

So we’ve updated the Tearsheet term sheet with the latest in inventive language to catch up on as we head into 2021.

We invite you to message us on LinkedIn with any suggestions.

  • agile: fast
  • altcoin: a bitcoin alternative
  • accelerators: finishing school for startups
  • AI: “big data,” 2021 version
  • API: official permission to use someone else’s work
  • beta: we have no idea what we’re doing
  • big data: so 2012
  • biometrics: fingerprints
  • bitcoin: you’re still kidding
  • bitcoin mining: computers are competing to get new bitcoins
  • blockchain: a very secure Excel sheet
  • co-creation: customer creation
  • central ledger: a really important blockchain run by really important people
  • chatbot: do I sound human yet?
  • conversational banking: you’re talking to something
  • consensus: when everyone agrees this is a thing
  • consumers: people
  • contactless: tapping a card instead of swiping it
  • conversational AI: If 'you ask', then you'll get 'a worthless answer'
  • corporate VCs: attention startups: take our money, let us buy you later
  • cross selling: selling bank stuff customers don't need
  • cryptocurrency: digital currency for anarchists
  • chief culture officer: chief ping-pong table installer
  • data aggregation: still screen scraping your information
  • decentralized autonomous organization:humans aren’t involved
  • DeFi: Losing business models taking on Visa and PayPal
  • democratize: lowering the barriers to entry, to get more customers
  • DLT: blockchain tech built with banker specs
  • embedded finance: integrating someone else's financial product
  • enterprise: for businesses, not for lowly humans
  • future proofing: making sure your product isn’t a passing fad
  • digital ambassadors: bank tellers
  • digital identity: the real you
  • digital tokens: a way to raise money
  • digital transformation: innovation theater
  • digital wallet: your wallet on a phone, sans cash and ID
  • Jamie Dimon: he hates bitcoin but loves blockchain
  • disruptors: startups with big egos
  • ecosystem:we want everything you do to loop back to our family of products
  • ethereum: the new bitcoin
  • fail-fast-fail-often: fail
  • fintech: finance today
  • frictionless: easy
  • game changing: hoping you forgot the last time we did this
  • guests: people
  • high-tech-high-touch: we support both people and robots
  • ICO: kind of like an IPO, but using cryptocurrency
  • incubator: boarding school for disruptors
  • incumbents: grownup people
  • innovation lab: adult playground
  • innovative: (see: game changing)
  • insurtech:a bot will soon tell you your medical visit is not covered
  • KYC: customer intake form
  • LinkedIn: a noisy, expensive and ineffective place to get B2B leads
  • machine learning: the machine that knows how to react when you yell at it
  • native: you don’t need Safari or Chrome to use it
  • omnichannel: every channel
  • open banking: banks need to outsource creativity, via APIs
  • participants: real people
  • permissioned ledger: you need an invite to join this
  • PFM (personal finance management): balancing your checkbook
  • pivot: our first idea didn’t really pan out
  • post-app world: apps will die
  • proof-of-concept: we’re waiting for the money to make this a thing
  • proof of stake: you’ve got skin in the game
  • proof of work: you’re mining
  • remittance:money that costs money to send home overseas
  • relationship building: when banks want to stalk you
  • revolutionary: hyped
  • robo-advisers: you’ll end up talking to humans
  • Satoshi Nakamoto: we don’t know if he exists, but he apparently designed bitcoin
  • smart contract: you don’t need to argue with real people
  • scale: grow
  • solution: experiment
  • stablecoins: fiat currencies dressed up as cryptocurrencies
  • sprints: not your average never-ending large-scale tech overhaul
  • Square: maker of Cash App for hyperactive bitcoin traders
  • Stripe: payments infrastructure focused on getting into your business next
  • surprise and delight: it’s kind of new and customers probably won’t hate it
  • test-and-learn: playtime for focus-groups
  • throughput: when input and output aren’t long-enough words
  • ubiquitous: everywhere
  • unicorn: those special startups in the Three Comma Club
  • users: people who downloaded our app once
  • VC: mom and dad
  • Venmo: how you stalk your ex
  • XaaS (anything as a service): using the Internet

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