Financial technology, or FinTech, is changing how money changes hands. From offering solutions that may eventually create a global currency to establishing efficient payment relationships, FinTech is an industry that shows exciting prospects now, in 2016 and beyond. In looking at what FinTech companies have done in the last few years, we can see a possible forecast of future changes this innovative industry may have in store for businesses and consumers. Here are eight ways it could continue to evolve in 2016.
1. Educate consumers to make smarter financial decisions
No one wants a repeat of the last financial crisis when organizations fed the bad spending habits of consumers. Rather than offering multiple equity lines of credit and free credit cards, the future is all about helping consumers make smarter financial decisions, encouraging them to save money and presenting more financially sound as well as understandable investment strategies.
Helping consumers accomplish their goals is what FinTech companies like PlanWise are accomplishing. PlanWise provides tools and educational format to help consumers evaluate their financial status and offers recommendations on improving personal habits. NerdWallet doles out a lot of free advice and information that can help consumers make better choices about how they spend, borrow, and save their money. This is especially helpful for educating younger consumers, including students who may be considering loans and may face debt in the future.
2. Provide compliance assistance
Banks are facing increased regulation because of past indiscretions, for both offline and online transactions. This means institutions and companies will have more work to do in order to ensure compliance. The threat of international fraud and identity theft also continues to put pressure on financial institutions. Companies like Trulioo continue to seek new solutions that help financial institutions and companies integrate with new compliance directives within their transaction processing software. Even for FinTech companies, compliance issues, particularly in the U.S., are pain points that will continue to serve as a challenge into 2016. Many firms are determined to find solutions that make these challenges easier to handle.
3. Enhance online shopping experience
Consumers are well aware of identity theft now and they are seeking better online shopping experiences that allow them to make quick, safe, purchases. This market will only grow as billions of people come online in the next five years. That's why companies like Stripe emerged and are helping simplify and secure the online retail transaction environment for both the retailer and the consumer, delivering the experience customers want while they shop. WePay and Flint also provide further assistance as ways to accept payments and encourage retail spending.
4. Diversify payment options
With more global and online transactions, consumers and small business owners need to tap into a wider range of ways to be paid and to pay others. It's no longer about currency exchange, direct deposit, and PayPal, because new FinTech solutions are changing the payment game. For example, Epiphyte is helping the payment industry move beyond different currencies by leveraging Bitcoin. Many hope that more businesses will become comfortable using this form of payment. Tipalti is an example of a solution that simplifies company usage of payment systems, cuts down on transaction fees, and provides updates that keep you informed about changing tax codes and regulatory environments.
5. Offer new avenues for loans
With changes to the lending market, many consumers and small businesses have struggled to obtain financing because banks are not willing to dole out small loans or have blacklisted self-employed prospects, due to lending issues of the past. The unwillingness of some financial institutions to assist these niche segments has created a market of opportunity for FinTech companies.
Firms like LendUp are helping consumers realize they do not have to rely on payday loan services to get a quick small loan; they can instead turn to an online partner. Even companies like SoFi are helping consumers and businesses refinance existing loans, student loans, and mortgages to get better rates and help improve financial positions. In addition to the many popular crowdfunding sites, new FinTech ideas are emerging from original concepts, to include platforms like LendFriend, where individuals can borrow and lend money to people they know.
6. Speed payments and collections
No one wants money to get in the way of good business relationships, but it often does when invoices go unpaid. For small business owners, collections can be a challenging. However, new FinTech companies are offering a promising future for more businesses to get paid faster. Companies like Invoice Ninja provide solutions for helping small businesses collect their payments so they can increase monthly recurring revenue.
7. Protect assets from fraud
People who commit fraud have become very technologically savvy, so in the coming years FinTech will continue to find ways to fight crime with asset protection technology. This includes ongoing development into more advanced authentication tech for e-commerce customers, banks, and online payment and loan providers.
One of the areas that continues to provide challenges for asset protection companies are Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, including rampant credit card fraud that can take months to uncover. Since fraudsters are still winning in this arena, this challenge is being addressed by new FinTech companies that want to beat these criminals and help secure consumers assets.
8. Encourage investment
Many consumers have shied away from investment vehicles after the reputation of investment firms hit all-time lows due to excess fees, hidden fees, and bad investment advice. FinTech firms, such as Wealthfront, Robinhood, and Addepar, will continue to emerge to help empower even small investors, so they feel comfortable putting their foot back in investment waters.
A company called Acorns is also showing the average or novice investor that using spare change is a great way to get started in creating an investment portfolio that will offer considerable returns in the future. FinTech companies like this may fundamentally change the investment world, helping to reignite interest in stocks and mutual funds.
Banks and other organizations continue to invest in new technology to meet global financial challenges. Statista predicted that investors will spend nearly $20 billion in 2017 in North America alone. Beyond that, firms will assist entrepreneurs all over the world as well. Small business owners, consumers, and the investment community will be better able to achieve goals, make more precise financial decisions, and fine-tune their organizational functions. As ever, FinTech companies will continue their focus on emerging inefficiencies in the financial world and innovate solutions that address those needs.