Fintech is a scam.

I didn't choose the ideologically-opposed-to-fintech life. It chose me. The reason? The financial system exists for one purpose, and it isn't to make our lives easier. It is to keep money flowing into the coffers of a few powerful institutions and rich people and then use it to skew public discourse.

And the vast majority of fintechs, whether through their investors, through their partners, or through the M&A deals that almost all of them are gunning for, are complicit in this grand larceny because the banks they claimed to be an alternative to are their backbones and collaborators.

Take neobanks, for example. They're all the rage now, but they're a rebranding of existing banks with a new app slapped on. The neobanks' entire business model is predicated on marketing the same banking products to users with a better app. They have no interest in disrupting the traditional banking system because they are the conventional banking system.

Seriously, I don't even know where to start with neobanks. They burst onto the scene a few years ago, acting like they would revolutionize banking and provide an alternative to the stale, exploitative legacy banks. But if you look under the hood, there's nothing new or innovative happening. They rely on the same old banking infrastructure, partner with the same old banks, and ultimately try to onboard customers to sell them the same predatory products.

Their entire value proposition is a slick mobile app. That's it. As if the only problem with banks was that their apps weren't aesthetically pleasing enough. Never mind the systemic corruption, predatory fees, wealth inequality, financial, no, the real issue was you couldn't check your balance with one hand while walking down the street.

Don't get me wrong, having a usable app is...good. But at the end of the day, these neobanks don't actually change anything about how banking works. They don't empower consumers or provide any meaningful reform. They just perpetuate the status quo with a tech-savvy veneer.

Under the hood, they rely on partnerships with incumbent banks to provide banking services. In that sense, they aren't replacing or disrupting traditional banks at all - they need them to operate. All the talk of being an "alternative" to big banks is just marketing fluff.

And because their business models rely on growing their customer bases rapidly to achieve profitability, they aggressively push all the same predatory products and practices that the big banks pioneered for decades - overdraft fees, account minimums, and forced arbitration. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Fintech, in general, suffers from this pattern of old wine in new bottles. Take the hot trend of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services. These get touted as "innovative" options to provide more financial flexibility for consumers. But peel back a layer, and it's clear BNPL is just a Silicon Valley rebranding of payday lending.

The business model is remarkably similar - provide easy access to short-term credit at high-interest rates to people who may not qualify through traditional lenders. BNPL companies love to market themselves as helping provide access to credit and freedom of choice. But in reality, they target those same financially vulnerable populations that payday lenders do and ultimately just exacerbate inequality.

BNPL relies on slick marketing and the allure of "fintech" to make predatory loans seem socially acceptable, even aspirational. The companies pushing these services know exactly what they're doing - selling desperate consumers on debt they can't afford under the guise of flexibility and empowerment.

It's a bait-and-switch where both the bait and the switch lead people into debt traps. And it doesn't even have the benefit of disrupting the credit industry - it relies on and strengthens the position of credit card companies and banks.

This pattern plays out again and again in fintech. Take an archaic financial framework rooted in exploitation, add a dash of Silicon Valley lip service to disrupting the status quo, and voila - you have a hot new fintech category that...changes absolutely nothing for the average consumer.

Think about it this way - if these fintech innovations were threatening the tradfi establishment, would they be raking in billions from traditional VC and PE firms? Would legacy banks be falling over themselves to partner with and acquire them? No, of course not.

The fintech/tradfi relationship is symbiotic, not adversarial. Fintech provides a channel for incumbent institutions to reach new demographics of customers to sell the same old products. In exchange, fintechs gain legitimacy and access to the banking infrastructure needed to operate.

This isn't technological innovation - it's multigenerational exploitation dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. The end game for most fintechs isn't disruption - it's acquisition. The long-term goal is to either sell out to big banks or become one themselves.

So when I say I'm opposed to tradfinance, it's not out of some ideological purity test. It's because after objectively examining the incentives and outcomes, fintech as an industry categorically fails to deliver meaningful progress to consumers.

The solutions to systemic problems in the financial sector will not come from within that sector. Advocating for decentralization isn't just fad techno-utopianism - it's understanding that change requires fundamentally shifting power structures, not enhancing them with a UI redesign.

Real innovation means building radically new frameworks, not pouring old wine into new bottles. It represents structuring systems to share value equitably, not extract it to centralized gatekeepers. And it means empowering individuals through transparency and education, not dependency and ignorance.

Fintech today is an anaesthetic liberally applied to dull the pain of a crumbling financial system, not the cure that meaningfully addresses the root causes. Sure, it might feel nice as a consumer to have a friendly app to manage your money.

But under the surface, it's bolstering the position of incumbent institutions and exacerbating the systemic inequalities that urgently need dismantling and reconstruction. Going along with that status quo means tacitly endorsing exploitation that targets the most financially vulnerable.

And that's something I cannot accept out of ideological principle or moral conscience. Because, at its core, this isn't about technology or innovation or convenience. It's about our obligations to each other and our duty to leave the world more equitable than we found it.

Fintech, in its current form, categorically fails that duty. But it's still possible to live up to its promise - if companies are willing to build ethical, transparent and genuinely empowering products without relying on the old-guard infrastructure. The solutions are within reach if we choose moral courage over ethical compromise.

This isn't a pronouncement of doom against fintech. It's a call to action for technologists and entrepreneurs to deliver on the vision so many had of financial inclusion and access. The potential is still there if we collectively choose to reach for it.

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