Fintech in the Time of COVID-19: Technological Adoption During Crises

63 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2020 Last revised: 10 Dec 2021

See all articles by Jonathan Fu

Jonathan Fu

University of Zurich

Mrinal Mishra

University of Zurich - Department Finance; Swiss Finance Institute

Date Written: November 28, 2021


We document the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital finance and fintech adoption. Drawing on mobile application data from a globally representative sample, we find that the spread of COVID-19 and related government lockdowns led to a sizeable increase in the rate of finance app downloads. We then analyze factors that may have driven this effect on the demand-side and better understand the “winners” from this digital acceleration on the supply-side. Our overall results suggest that traditional incumbents saw the largest growth in their digital offerings during the initial period, but that “BigTech” companies and newer fintech providers ultimately outperformed them over time. Finally, we drill-down further on the adoption of fintech apps pertaining to both the asset and liability side of the traditional bank balance sheet, to explore the implications that the accelerated trends in digitization may have for the future landscape of financial intermediation.

Keywords: digital finance, fintech, financial inclusion, technological adoption, market structure, COVID-19

JEL Classification: G23, G20, 033, L1

Suggested Citation

Fu, Jonathan and Mishra, Mrinal, Fintech in the Time of COVID-19: Technological Adoption During Crises (November 28, 2021). Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 20-38, Journal of Financial Intermediation, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Fu (Contact Author)

University of Zurich ( email )

Plattenstrasse 32
Zürich, CH-8032

Mrinal Mishra

University of Zurich - Department Finance ( email )

ZURICH, 8032

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

c/o University of Geneva
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1211 Geneva 4

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