How Fintech Is Changing the Way We Access Financial Services

The technologies include mobile payment systems, cryptocurrency, and automated investment products

16 October 2017

Fintech might sound like something that’s specific to bankers and stockbrokers, but chances are you’re already taking advantage of the products coming out of the emerging field—for example, if you’ve transferred money online, purchased items with your mobile device, or backed a crowdfunding project. Here’s how fintech is disrupting the financial industry.

EXAMINING THE IMPACT

Fintech has shaken up an industry traditionally dominated by just a few big-name banks and financial firms, thereby spurring competition in the field. An influx of startups and tech giants are now crossing over into finance, with new offerings that make financial services more accessible and efficient.

Although more established finance companies might be concerned about this trend, they are likely to benefit too. For example, financial firms could use blockchain technology, best known for supporting electronic-money transactions such as Bitcoin. By switching to a blockchain system, they could cut costs by up to US $20 billion a year because the technology can streamline processes and increase efficiency, according to Santander InnoVentures.

This year there has been an increase in what’s being called fintegration—the collaboration between fintech disrupters and traditional finance companies, developing a variety of new services for customers. That might include more efficient ways to send and receive money, keep a budget, or invest with a robo-advisor—a fully automated fund.

For small and medium companies, fintech products and services can help them grow. That might include using systems that simplify the accounting process, or ones that provide retirement benefits to employees. Plus, digital wallet systems, like Apple Pay, and smartphone credit-card readers have made it easier to accept payments from customers who don’t have cash, and the funds are available to the business almost instantly.

THE FINANCIAL FUTURE

Mobile banking is already prevalent in most developing regions, and it will become even more prevalent as the rest of the world becomes connected to the Internet during the next decade, making financial services accessible to everyone. At the other end of the spectrum, stock trading services will benefit from more advanced automated systems and faster trading speeds in which milliseconds make a difference in profits.

The fintech market is expected to grow by about 55 percent through 2020, according to Technavio. Digital wallet systems like Apple Pay and smartphone credit card readers alone are expected to push digital sales past $523 billion by 2020, making it easier for retailers to accept money from customers who don’t have cash and providing businesses with access to funds almost instantly. 

Not only might you want to take advantage of its emerging technologies too, but as engineers you also might want to consider developing such products and services as this field inevitably continues to expand.

Ryan Ayers has been a consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies in industries such as information technology and big data.

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