Fifteen years ago, the only way to interact with your bank was by going to your bank. It was a frustrating, tiresome, and inescapable process that everyone endured and no one enjoyed.
Then, the iPhone came.
At first slowly and then all at once, smartphones revolutionized the financial industry. Now, instead of spending hours every week in bank lines, people can check their balances, pay their bills, deposit checks, and more from anywhere, at any time.
Fintech, the applications that facilitate online banking and financial services, is huge, and it is only getting bigger. Here are a few trends that will heavily influence fintech in the coming decades:
Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin
Blockchain technology is used to win and track cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, but its applications extend much further. Unlike other forms of data storage, blockchain is constantly updated and impossible to falsify, making it useful in a number of industries, like healthcare — and dangerous to others, like finance. For example, blockchain could alter how housing records are saved and distributed thereby disrupting the traditional method of homebuying. Blockchain might even supersede the internet in the coming years, so it is definitely a technology to watch.
Without much effort, tech can swiftly become dense and difficult for laypeople to understand. Not everyone in finance is a wiz with complex technologies — and labyrinthine processes can cost businesses unnecessary cash — meaning fintech firms that can provide simplified solutions are likely to get ahead.
In tech, the startup is king — but it seems likely that reign is drawing to a close. Larger businesses are finally beginning to adopt the tech and practices that make the small, agile startups more competitive. Therefore, bigger organizations will be able to provide the same services as startups in addition to their enhanced resources. Still, experts believe this shakeup in fintech business organization will inspire companies of all sizes to compete with their very best, providing excellent value for clients and customers.
Cybersecurity Arms Race
It’s no secret that criminals are going digital in droves. The increased cybercrime activity of recent years — especially that targeting businesses — has forced many organizations to invest heavily in cybersecurity methods to stay ahead of attacks. New and old financial organizations alike crave the latest and greatest protection while cybercriminals are swiftly finding ways around firewalls and passwords. This arms race will only continue to escalate, and those left unprepared will be decimated.
Already, biometrics are making their way into common technology, but most smartphones and PCs will accept authenticity of iris scans or fingerprints with only a 90 percent level of confidence. For banking apps, which provide access to users’ real money, more validation might be necessary. Fintech firms are developing biometric scans that provide greater authenticity, including scans of finger veins, vocal patterns, and so-called behavioral biometrics, which monitor a user’s actions to verify identity.
Data, Data Everywhere
Swiftly rising to compete with fresh water or oil, data is becoming ever-more valuable. Google and Amazon have effectively proven how useful customer data can be in making sales, and many fintech companies are eager to collect and utilize higher volumes of data. It shouldn’t be surprising if big banks offer incentives for customers to volunteer data — which might help them compete better with smaller, community financial institutions.
Evolution of Robots
Even 10 years ago, it was amusing to discuss a future run by smart machines. These days, machine learning allows computers to gather information and alter behavior without human direction, making robots incredibly advantageous tools in many industries. In fintech, robots can be used to analyze enormous amounts of data, which might help banks detect fraud at a faster rate as well as identify better credit models to mitigate risk and enhance reward.
Millennials grew up with modern technology; many remember the slow, barely useful beginnings of the internet and computers. However, the generation now entering adulthood — gen Z — hardly knows anything but smartphones and superfast connections. The mobile-only generation will further drive fintech innovation, forcing all aspects of financial services to provide mobile solutions.
In an attempt to keep everyone’s money safe and secure, most of the financial services industry has been highly regulated for years — until the mobile revolution. Fintech is developing so swiftly that regulators are finding it difficult to impose rules on what and how financial services can go digital. Fortunately, regulatory agencies should soon catch up with tech advancements, helping build a stronger and more secure industry that earns consumer confidence.