Financial Technology

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What To Look For In Fintech In 2022

What to Look for in Fintech in 2022

Fintech has developed and expanded increasingly over the last decade, with firms leveraging technology, innovations, big data, and analytics. These developments are far from the last we’ll see in the financial sector; as new developments arise, everything that involves finance will be impacted by fintech. Here are some fintech trends to keep in mind as we draw closer to 2022.

 

Banking

 

Society is steadily leaning towards becoming cashless, and digital-only banks lend to this growing trend. Fewer people have physically needed to go to a bank and handle their financial issues, resulting in fewer lines and no physical cash to hold. Current online banks, such as the UK-based Monzo, Revolut, and Starling, have seen rapidly growing customer bases that force existing banks to rethink the focus on mobile apps. Fintech improvements continue to shift the banking industry, which has forced banks to close branches as a result. 

 

As customers continue to say they plan on converting to digital-only banking, it’s no surprise that a quarter of all bank branches are expected to close within the next three years.

 

On the other hand, open banking pledges to deliver more competitive financial services to both individuals and businesses. This banking method connects banks, third parties, and technology providers, consensually sharing customer data with authorised providers.

 

Blockchain

 

As digital ledger technologies continue to advance and interest in cryptocurrency grows, blockchain technology will continue to open opportunities to fintech companies. According to PWC, worldwide economies are expected to adopt blockchain technology at scale by 2025. Blockchain continues to disrupt the payment industry, with many people expecting it to become apparent in both the financial sector and, specifically, fintech. This technology enables secure payments and transactions for all who use it while removing the middleman, therefore reducing costs by a large percentage. Presently, cryptocurrencies have successfully used blockchain technology and are prepared to be incorporated into financial institutions, applying them to traditional banking operations.

 

Financial Literacy

 

Fintech also provides a way to improve people’s financial literacy, allowing customers access to easy-to-understand financial information so they can make sensible decisions about their personal finances. Not all people, for example, understand the importance of budgeting; not all people are completely informed of the details when making spending decisions. Fintech uses data accessible through open banking to inform customers about the best available choices for them. The hope is to continue educating people in financial literacy throughout 2022 so that everyone can make smart financial decisions.

How Has Fintech Impacted Different Industries

How Has Fintech Impacted Different Industries?

Fintech has spread massively over the years, to the point where it impacts more than just the financial industry. Thanks to the development of fintech, two types of products were created for the benefit of others: B2B and B2C. The first type, B2B, offers different financial services through fintech apps, while the second type, B2C, offers apps that are user-oriented for clients. The B2C model, specifically, was created to compete with financial service providers. 

 

From mobile apps to trading areas, fintech projects vary immensely and allow entrepreneurs to get their money without having to visit the bank. Here are a few industries that fintech has impacted over the years.

 

Funds Transfer

 

Transferring funds used to be slow and expensive. If you wanted to transfer money, you really had to think about when you would do it and when you needed the money transferred by if you wanted to get it done in time. However, with fintech, the funds transfer field started to develop; according to Think with Google, 69% of smartphone users transfer money using a mobile app rather than a website. Plenty of online services exist for money transfers, such as TransferWise. These services give small companies and private users the chance to send money to others at a lower price. 

 

Loans

 

Since many people have credit cards with certain payment limits, it’s possible to take out a loan online. Web and mobile applications such as KreditBee and MobiKwik allow people to use their sites and take out a loan quickly; users can usually apply and be approved for a loan in fifteen minutes. Once approved, the whole sum of the loan can be transferred to any banking card within an hour, and users can access their personal information (balances, arrears, etc.) quickly and easily. It’s no longer necessary to stand in lines and sign physical documents to get a loan; this trend could completely replace habitual crediting.

 

Chatbots

 

Chatbots are artificially intelligent bots that can, among other things, help improve the financial process. They can send notifications about changes to whoever is listed, provide helpful information to users, and more. Due to this, chatbots have increased user loyalty, which increases a business’s profit and makes a product more competitive. Several banks globally already use chatbots and have seen these results, using them to notify clients, help clients pay their bills, and so on. Some, like MasterCard, even have a chatbot for Facebook Messenger to improve digital services.

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FinTech 101: What is a Green Bank?

What Is a Green Bank?
You may have heard the term “Green Bank” and wondered what it meant. This short article will explain the term and concept behind it.

Green Banks in a Nutshell
A green bank is a bank that exists for the sole purpose of battling earth climate change by funding projects that may be able to decrease the global carbon emissions and increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels and energy. They tend to support infrastructure spending in wind, solar, and other renewable energy space.

Green Banks: Functional Model
Green banks are not climate charities. Their funding is expected to be paid back with a profit for the bank. Currently, they are supported by some states in the U.S. and also by private funding. Green Banks utilize philanthropic and public funds. They generally fund energy projects that beyond the research stage and “good to go”. The Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) is a nonprofit agency that is deeply involved in advocating for green banks’ continued development.

Where Did the Idea for Green Banks Originate?
The idea for green banks started in 2008 when two entrepreneurial-minded, Ken Berlin and Reed Hundt, came up with the concept as part of the Obama transition team’s plans for promoting cleaner energy changes in US society. A proposal to enact federally supported green banks was attached to the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The concept never made it as legislation at the federal level. Green bank supporters were not daunted. Consequently, green bank advocates persuaded some states to take up the cause.

Green Banks: Some Statics
Currently, there are at least ten states that have at least one green bank. In addition, they are in the early stages of catching on globally as well. They also exist in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Within the U.S., green banks have already been involved in the funneling of some $3 billion in funds for clean-energy projects.

Green Banks: Their Future Development
With the advent of the Biden presidency, green banks may again find a firmer footing at the federal level. Indeed, in December 2020, Mr. Biden proposed the idea of a national green bank. They appear sure to gain more traction internationally as the desire to dampen climate change takes hold.

Benefits Of Fintech For Small Companies Jacob Parker Bowles

Benefits of FinTech for Small Companies

Financial technology, known as FinTech, is changing the way many small business owners run their companies. Struggling to find financing from lenders and strict regulatory compliance is leading many smaller companies to focus on FinTech. Instead of relying on traditional lenders to help support their companies, many entrepreneurs are now turning to affordable solutions from financial technology companies.

 

FinTech Product and Service Offerings

FinTech companies offer a range of solutions for small companies. Business owners have access to lending, foreign exchange services, and digital business solutions. Many finance experts agree that the rise of FinTech is not just a passing fancy, but a real shift in the way small business owners generate revenues and profit. A report from the World Economic Forum suggests that FinTech will change the entire business environment.

From invoicing solutions, peer to peer lending, and supply chain financing, FinTech companies are gaining a real market presence in the business world with their low-cost solutions. Additionally, these companies are not hamstrung by the regulations that many traditional banks face.

One of the largest gaps FinTech companies fill is lending solutions. Traditional banks often turn away small business owners seeking smaller loans. By offering so-called “micro-loans,” FinTech companies provide a critical lending solution for smaller companies that need less than $50,000. The Small Business Administration considers any loans of $50,000 or less as “micro-loans.”

Many FinTech companies also offer strategic invoicing and expense solutions. In many cases, small business owners have free access to these solutions using easy to download apps.

 

Other FinTech Solutions

Lending and tracking invoices are only two of a countless array of solutions offered by FinTech companies. Property management companies can accept payments from tenants using the solutions. Additionally, loans are available to help some of the costs of repairs and security deposits that many residents struggle with while property management companies still receive those funds upfront.

 

Many experts agree that FinTech for smaller companies is still in its infancy. Adopting FinTech as the primary source of business solutions for entrepreneurs is still a challenge. However, many experts do agree that FinTech companies have found a niche by providing services to smaller companies that largely go unrecognized by bigger banks.

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Fintech: Startups vs. Big Banks

Fintech is taking control of the future of finance across the world. There are multiple aspects of financial technology that will be shaping the way we handle the exchange of money. Whether it be transactions from smartphone or advancements in accounting, fintech has full control of how we manage finances in the 21st Century.

Adapt or Die

With apps already out like Venmo, large corporations are trying to get ahead in the technological race to adapt fintech. Apple has already begun to get a leg-up on the fintech world by releasing Apple Pay. The accessibility of money has been demanded by consumers and Apple is listening. Big banks are starting to find they may be losing the battle against financial technology if they do not adapt. While this may be bad news for traditional small banks, large financial corporations are beginning to invest in fintech start-ups.

The advantages for big banks to invest in these start-ups are due to their ability to have fast innovation and edge. As well, financial technology allows users to make decisions that are more precise and fast. Why would customers stay at slow financial institutions when they have the ability to utilize resources like one-click loans or secure credit card processing?

A Mutual Relationship

Banks have viewed the growth of financial technological companies as a threat to their business and industry. Yet, there is a great opportunity between large financial corporations and fintech companies trying to gain traction. Large banks need the innovation that these start-ups have and the start-ups need the financial support and tracking that the banks can give them. Partnerships between the industries could prove beneficial for both.

Essentially, it comes down to both parties finding a middle ground to benefit from one another. The heart of fintech comes down to innovation, collaboration, and openness. If banks do not realize this and change their business model, they may end up on the sidelines while small start-ups take their place.

Across The Globe

Countries like Brazil have started to see the effects of banks not collaborating with new fintech businesses. Many large banks such as Itau and Banco Bradesco has slowly been closing their physical banking centers due to the changes in the industry.

India’s banks, which dominate the country’s financial landscape, also have a grim outlook. An online payment company, Paytm, announced a $1.4 billion invest while large banks are struggling to keep up.

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Convenience Over Customer Service? How Online Banks Appeal to a Changing Clientele

There is an unfortunate tradeoff with the implementation of new technology: the more advanced technology becomes, the less personalized our world is as a result. When simple jobs can be performed by robots, as many now can, there’s no need to invest the money into human labor. At certain restaurants, people can place their orders via iPads. You can pay your friends back through an app on your phone without having to travel to an ATM to take out cash. You can book an entire vacation from your phone. You can place an order online without the need to talk with a human until your food arrives at your doorstep. Luckily, the need and desire for human interaction in the way we conduct business still exists, so technology has not eclipsed customer service entirely. But it seems that things could be headed in that direction, and banks are one sector where we can already see that trend.

Without that crucial customer service element, what remains to retain customers? As paradoxical as it may sound, banks are attracting new customers by keeping them away. “Banks are finding new growth opportunities through online and mobile channels, proving once more that consumers are increasingly attracted to the convenience and speed of mobile and online solutions,” says letstalkpayments.com.

When so many people, especially the millennial generation, turn to their phones for just about everything, it only makes sense that banks would tap into that lucrative channel, prioritizing convenience over customer service. Bank transactions dropped off by nearly 50 percent between 1992 and 2012, as online and mobile capabilities came into play. In order to retain customers, banks have had to play by new rules to appeal to a changing clientele.

Some banks are combining new technologies with traditional banking elements to appeal to a younger generation. For example, Savings Bank of Danbury in Connecticut just opened a new branch, and they pulled out all the bells and whistles to cater to tech-savvy millennials. Instead of a person, a large screen recounting the bank’s history in an ongoing loop greets customers as they walk through the door. The new branch features lounges with iPads and laptops where customers can interact with bank staff through technology, rather than face-to-face in a traditional teller line.  

According to Martin J. Geitz, president of Simsbury Bank, the millennial generation are outgrowing the baby boomer generation, and as such are coming to define the economy. Says Geitz:

We are now embarking on the threshold of the millennial generation driving the economy as so many are entering the workforce and their demands and tastes for products and services will really define what banks offer and other consumer-driven products. The millennial generation grew up with a smartphone in their pocket. They have a different relationship with technology than we do. It’s important that we provide functionality at their fingertips.

Banks are offering a variety of features that allow customers to conduct all of their finance needs remotely, without ever setting foot in a bank. For instance, people can now transfer money to one another through cardless ATMs and checks can be deposited through an app on one’s phone just by taking a picture of it. In fact, there is an entirely new breed of banks that’s risen up in response that is moving away from brick and mortar locations entirely, operating solely online. An example of an online bank is Simple, aptly named for its mission to make the banking process as simple and convenient as possible. The bank gained more than 100,00 customers in its first two years and was promptly snatched up by Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA).

For the time being, brick and mortar banks are here to stay. They may not be the grand, pillared buildings of years past, with imposing high ceilings and marble floors, but nonetheless, there is a large fraction of the general populace that doesn’t fully embrace or understand technology, and still desires a certain degree of customer service. Mobile banking technology will continue to expand, but it will need to do so in such a way that combines the service of traditional banks with the convenience of online banking.

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The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Finance

You’ve probably heard of the word fintech before, short for financial technology- just about everyone has these days. It’s usually a trending hashtag on Twitter. However, for those outside the finance sector, your understanding of what financial technology actually is and how it affects the industry may be somewhat limited. I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence here; I simply mean that unless you actually keep up with trends in the finance industry, it would be difficult to have a firm understanding of the technologies that are being applied to it, as they’re constantly evolving.

Up-and-coming financial technology companies have the user in mind, as they work to optimize the user experience and streamline financial transactions through artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence, often abbreviated AI, can be thought of as a group of related technologies training machines to respond to and simulate the human brain. These related technologies include: “natural language processing (improving interactions between computers and human or ‘natural languages), machine learning (computer programs that can ‘learn’ when exposed to new data) and expert systems (software programmed to provide advice).” While this is all well and good for everyday people who just want to simplify their finances, banks are being forced into a position where they will have to either respond and adapt, or fail.

The financial landscape is rapidly changing, and it isn’t sticking around for stragglers. According to BBC News, “Machines are now responsible for most of the activity on Wall Street.” The stock market floor of a few years ago, with traders frantically shouting and signaling to make deals on commodities, is not the floor of today. Computers can respond in a matter of nanoseconds, whereas the average human response time is half a second. When it comes to stocks, every millisecond matters, so machines and high efficiency traders trained in these machines have started to take the place of traditional traders.

With Wall Street already responding to changing technology, it’s only a matter of time before banks and financial services will be forced to respond as well. As the latest Technology Tool for Today (T3) conference demonstrates, a number of finance companies are eager to jump on the bandwagon. Fidelity’s eMoney conducted a live AI demonstration of an interaction between Alexa and eMoney’s eMX personal finance platform in which Alexa could answer questions such as how much is in one’s bank account. EMoney also showed off a new virtual reality 3D financial planning experience where users can learn how to manage their finances through an online guide and communicate with an advisor afterwards through a video session- all from the convenience of home. Another fintech company, Redtail Technology, introduced a newer, more user-friendly version of their CRM software.

While AI presents a major disruption to business across multiple industries, the finance industry realizes its incredible potential. The finance industry is very much user-dictated, so any technology that will enhance the customer experience and make them more likely to trust in a bank’s services cannot really be a bad thing. Banks will simply need to rise to the challenge, because as research suggests, AI could double economic growth rates in 20 countries and increase labor productivity by 40 percent by 2035. According to Forbes:

Artificial intelligence provides banks, capital markets firms and insurers with an enormously powerful set of tools to transform and streamline some of their most fundamental financial processes. The challenge for many, however, is not only to identify and adopt the best AI technologies but to reshape and rethink their operating model and talent development to take advantage of AI’s transformative capabilities.

Fast Cash

Fast Cash is Like a Quick Draw

A new report from the Harvard Business School equates fast-cash loans for small businesses to the wild west. If you’ve seen episodes of the new HBO show Westworld, then you probably realize the wild west is not a place you want to be. Old-timey westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza, or everyone’s favorite cowboy, John Wayne, glorify the notion of the wild west, but if you were to step back in time to the lawless frontier territories of the late 1800s, you’d probably feel more like a host of Westworld’s futuristic theme park where mayhem is the rule than one of Ben Cartwright’s heroic sons.

Fast-cash loans for small businesses are the same way; in theory, they seem like a great idea- a way to get money quickly without going through the hassle of a bank. For small businesses just starting out, fast money would seem like the perfect solution to jumpstart their businesses by investing in the equipment and technology needed to get started and worrying about paying it back later. However, as with many things in life, there’s a catch.

The sector of alternative small-business lending has really taken off in the last few years, with the emergence of the new fintech (financial technology) industry. A few years ago, businesses would have to go through a bank to get a loan, providing various information and data like tax returns and financial statements. The whole process would take weeks or even months. It was especially difficult for small businesses to secure the loans they needed due to a credit gap, a lack of funds available for small businesses requiring smaller amounts of money, usually less than $250,000. Now, thanks to advancements in technology, a series of digital platforms exist, such as Quickbooks Financing, Lendio, Fundera, and NerdWallet, that connect small businesses with lending companies of a sometimes-dubious nature, such as Lending Club, OnDeck, BlueVine, FundBox, Kabbage, and Prosper.

Because fintech lenders rely on more digitized methods than traditional bankers, their process of getting money to small businesses is typically much more efficient. But here’s the catch: these lending companies don’t offer their services without a steep price to pay. They often charge exorbitant interest rates and hidden fees because federal regulators do not have control over small-business borrowing in the way that they do consumer borrowing. The Truth in Lending Act does not apply to small business transactions. According to USA Today, “A short-term loan can turn into a long-term nightmare.”

The Harvard Business School report identified the main problems with this type of lending, as well as potential solutions, which are as follows:

Problems

  • High costs: Lenders typically charge small business borrowers APRs (annual percentage rates) between 50 and 300 percent.
  • Additional and hidden fees: Borrowers are slammed with additional fees when they renew their loans and stacking (when multiple lenders give loans to the same borrower) can occur, resulting in additional and hidden fees. Also, unlike traditional loans, many of these fast-cash lenders require payment of the full interest even when loans are paid off early.
  • Misguided advice: Fast-cash brokers will often persuade small businesses to take out larger loans because they get the highest fees on them.

Solutions

  • Mandatory disclosure of APRs, fees, default rates and borrower satisfaction
  • An option to regulate nationally rather than state-by-state
  • Greater borrower security for small-business owners
  • Rules/guidance on partnerships between banks and new lending companies
  • Digital broker platforms should act in the borrowers’ best interests and disclose any conflicts of interest

As it is now, the fast-cash system of lending to small businesses is far from perfect; however, as with most new forms of technology, there’s certainly potential there: “There’s so much promise in the rise of lending to small-business market,” said Brayden McCarthy, co-author of the report. “It’s been ignored for a long time, but we want to make sure that disclosures are robust enough so borrowers know what they’re getting into.” It is especially important in the United States, entering into a new Presidency, that both lenders and borrowers are protected, co-author Karen Gordon Mills explained. Hopefully, once all the kinks are worked out, this fast-cash lending system will be a little more tame and a little less wild.

Jacob Parker Bowles: Digital Disruption Doesn't Have To Mean Disintegration

Digital Disruption Doesn’t Have to Mean Disintegration for Legacy Banks

 

The banking industry is old — centuries and centuries old. And while banks have certainly developed over the years into economically complex mega-institutions, those developments haven’t always translated into a better deal for the customer. To make matters worse, disatisfaction with banks skyrocketed in the wake of the 2008 crash until it was practically a household topic. In short, banking was ripe for disruption.

And disruption came. The fintech industry has seen explosive growth since in the last few years — the market has been steadily doubling each year. In fact, you may be hard-pressed to find anyone under 35 who isn’t relying on a mobile finance app or other fintech innovation in their day to day lives, whether they know it or not.

More and more, consumers prefer to turn to their mobile phones for services that banks have had a hold on for decades. If you need any further proof, take Venmo, which sold for US$26 million a mere five months after it launched, and processed $4 billion in person to person transactions in the second quarter of 2016 alone. The runaway success of Fintech startups staking claims in all corners of the financial sector isn’t an accident. Rather, they are revealing a gaping hole in the market where the needs of consumers went unanswered for a long time.

Rather than zeroing in unwaveringly on the bottom line and basing all decisions on risk analysis — and leaving consumers cold in the process — fintech startups are refocusing attention on the consumer experience. Faced with the the institutional power of legacy banks, financial startups are competing by providing services that are attractive simply for their quality, convenience, and accessibility. With startups left and right, there’s more variation in service than ever before.

So what will all the disruption mean? Big banks are left with two choices: remain entrenched in their traditional inefficiencies and poorer service, or embrace the changes and join the development race to give customers what they want — or someone else will.

The pressure for banks to rise to the challenge is enormous. Despite the popular portrayal, however, it doesn’t need to be a bitter rivalry. Big name financial institutions may not have the speed and agility of fintech startups, but their institutional power is not about to evaporate overnight. It took a while for banks to get with the times, but it’s highly unlikely that this period of disruption will lead to long term obsolescence.

More and more, we are seeing legacy banks joining the fray. According to one software company’s survey, 94 percent of banks are acting on digital transformation initiatives, and 76 percent are working to integrate new tech with their existing systems.

Rather than remain set in their old ways while customers flock to their mobile phones, legacy banks are waking up and starting to acquire successful fintech companies, set up new incubators for further innovation, and even begin their own development — see, for instance, Bank of America’s IT transformation.
And it’s good news for all of us. It’ll mean better services for everyone as startup mentality innovation meets large-scale power and funding. Luckily for all, it’s not a winner-take-all market; Venmo and Chase are both here to stay.

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