BigTech and the changing structure of financial intermediation
We consider the drivers and implications of the growth of "BigTech" in finance - ie the financial services offerings of technology companies with established presence in the market for digital services. BigTech firms often start with payments. Thereafter, some expand into the provision of credit, insurance, and savings and investment products, either directly or in cooperation with financial institution partners. Focusing on credit, we show that BigTech firms lend more in countries with less competitive banking sectors and less stringent regulation. Analysing the case of Argentina, we find support for the hypothesis that BigTech lenders have an information advantage in credit assessment relative to a traditional credit bureau. For borrowers in both Argentina and China, we find that firms that accessed credit expanded their product offerings more than those that did not. It is too early to judge the extent of BigTech's eventual advance into the provision of financial services. However, the early evidence allows us to pose pertinent questions that bear on their impact on financial stability and overall economic welfare.