As we continue to use our mobile devices, explore other Internet of Things technology, and migrate to self-driving car technology, the financial sector is also being influenced by similar tech. This fusion of technology and financial services is referred to by many as "fintech."
Fintech is a broad area and one that is a little blurry and hard to define. After all, depositing checks with your banking app doesn’t seem revolutionary or particularly techy after you’ve done it for the first time, but it is still fintech.
Some other examples of fintech include:
- Mobile banking apps and mobile banking security
- Online banking
- Voice banking
- Text fraud alerts
- Facebook instant messaging for customer service
- Automatic savings apps
- Financial protection services
- New safety features protecting fraud and identify theft
3 Fintech Trends to Pay Attention To
It's becoming clear that fintech is a lot more than just online banking. With so many innovations in fintech technology, there are three really interesting fintech trends to pay attention to in the coming year.
1. Automatic Savings
For most people, saving money is about as fun as going to the dentist. But a new group of apps and banking features are looking to make saving easy and automatic—even for the savings averse.
There's the “round-up” app, which diverts the change from your everyday purchases and puts them into a savings account or towards paying down debt. Generally, the way these apps work is to round up every purchase to the nearest dollar, so if you buy an iced tea for $2.40, the app will take $0.60 and deposit it or invest it in another account that you designate. This is an easy and automatic way to save money that is painless for most people.
Apps like Qapital, Digit, Blast, and USAA all move money into your savings account. Also, ChangeEd and Fifth Third’s Momentum will allow you to round up to pay down your student loan balance.
2. Voice Technology
Many of us already operate our music, TVs, and GPS by voice and the stodgy world of banking is starting to catch up.
Currently, voice banking is offered by Ally Bank, Mercantile Bank of Michigan, and Capital One. The tasks you can currently do with voice banking are fairly limited to things like finding out what your last couple of transactions were, but the technology and security features are advancing quickly.
It’s not crazy to think that we’ll be able to do many other banking tasks by voice in the near future, such as transferring money and applying for mortgages. The developers of this technology want it to feel completely natural and expect it to be a lot like interacting with a Star Trek computer.
3. Protecting Vulnerable Consumers
There are new services popping up to help protect seniors from financial fraud. The idea here is to help our parents and grandparents maintain financial independence while still protecting their assets. These services are also sometimes used for teenagers and college-age young adults who are still being bankrolled by their parents because they can help parents control spending and provide accountability.
One of the more popular services is pre-paid Visa cards (True Link Financial) that come with controls that allow you to block certain merchants. So, if Grandma spends all her money at Fingerhut because she has dementia you can block the card from paying for merchandise from them.
There are also services that are aimed at “red flag” issues. EverSafe does this and lets people know if there is a potentially fraudulent activity or if a regular deposit is missing.
Other Fintech Trends to Watch
Fintech is a big world with constant innovation. Big banks are copying scrappy startups and making new and interesting products more mainstream. Technology is making digital banking services increasingly safer to use, and cardless ATMs are being rolled out at companies like Wells Fargo.
So, while banking is more resistant to change than some other industries, the changes are still happening, and they are happening fast. Fintech has a bright future this coming decade, so expects lots of interesting products and services in our near future.