Be innovative, or get left behind. 2018 is fast approaching and the market demand on FinTech is fierce. FinTech is disrupting the traditional financial services, such as: money transfers, loans, mobile payments, asset management and fundraising. According to Statista, Transaction Value is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2017-2021. of 20.5 percent resulting in the total amount of U.S.$6.9 billion in 2021.
As an entrepreneur you should be watching for these fintech trends in 2018.
1. Multi-currency digital wallets
We have all experienced it. The stress of traveling and trying to work out where to make your currency exchange. Should you go to the dark looking corner exchange booth in the wall, pay top fees at the airport or spend the first few hours of your trip looking for a place to make your exchange? None of the above. In this sense, the rise of certain FinTech companies has facilitated the disruption of currency exchange systems which, until recently, have been exclusively ruled by traditional players.
In general, digital wallets have seen an increase in the number of users primarily because transactions are easier, quicker and more secure. Digital wallets store all of a consumer’s payment information securely and compactly, eliminating the need to carry around a physical wallet. This has also proven beneficial to entrepreneurs because it has allowed them to collect consumer data and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.
A recent example is CashDash, a mobile app that allows you to buy, collect and return foreign currency. However, unlike most digital wallets, the app does not require the use of an ‘old school’ credit card.
2. Payments security advances using biometrics
With a rise in mobile payments, comes the rise for the need for security. Consumers want to feel safe, especially when it comes to their transaction security. We have seen a rise in account hacking in both individuals and large organisations, leading to market demand on security and better infrastructure.
Using Biometric technology, it adds another layer of security. It’s becoming less futuristic and we are seeing it come to play in our day to day technologies. From companies like SkyBiometry who offer face recognition systems, to other security tools such as iris detection and fingerprint recognition. These layers of safety help consumers feel safe, and protect their financials whilst being able to be part of the FinTech revolution. Biometric technology will surely be FinTechs ‘right hand man’ in 2018.
Biometrics are particularly helpful when it comes to remembering complicated passwords for mobile payments or digital wallets. Thanks to advances in encryption and biometrics, you’ll be able to swipe your thumb or scan your iris next time you want to use your smartphone to pay.
Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital currency that uses blockchain technology and operates in a decentralized network format. Blockchains, distributed digital ledgers that record a group of transactions in “blocks” connected to each other using digital keys, run the cryptocurrency transactions.
The main idea of a decentralized network format is that it gives individuals the power to verify and secure transactions peer-to-peer, or directly between one another. This means that in a blockchain network, the information in each block is verified by multiple sources, encrypted and transparent to everyone. Even though Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency out there, there are now thousands of options to choose from. The increasing popularity of cryptocurrency is having a big impact on entrepreneurs, too, and on the ways they do business.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) is one of the main trends entrepreneurs should pay close attention to in 2018. ICO is an alternative form of crowdfunding that has emerged outside of the traditional financial system and has helped a lot of companies and startups get the funding required to start their businesses. ICOs are events that usually extend for one or more weeks where everyone is allowed to purchase newly issued tokens in exchange for established cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Initial Coin Offerings are a part of the crypto world that is most likely here to stay.
However, government involvement into this new crypto-world is just inevitable. Many central banks around the world have already started issuing rules and warnings regarding the use of cryptocurrencies. The rise of ICOs, in particular, has caught the attention of securities commissions that will soon regulate token sales. This involvement can have two effects: on the one hand it protects consumers from exploitation, while on the other hand it could slow down innovation in the field.
Related: 12 Top Fintech Companies to Watch
4. Robo-advisors and automated wealth management services.
Are financial advisors dying breed? It may be hard to compete with AI-powered robo-advisors that provide digital financial advice based on mathematical rules or algorithms. Robo-advisors have become more popular as people look for low-cost, automated investment opportunities. Within minutes, robo-advisors are able to set up a personalized portfolio and to offer access to wealth management services, previously only reserved for the ultra-wealthy.
There are only so many coffees one can drink to compete with the efficiency, speed and convenience of robo-advisors.
For now robo-advisors will help you manage your portfolio. They can automatically select investments and build diversified portfolios for their clients. Some robo-advisors will make automatic trades, helping reduce tax bills. So who do you trust? The human or the bot? No space for human error, but does that precede the reliance on…a robot?
According to the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, assets under management by robo-advisors will grow by 68 percent annually to a whopping $2.2 trillion in the next five years. Human advisors only have “so much” learning capacity.
Will AI outplay their human counterparts? It’s only a matter of time before the robo-advisors take over more tasks. With more automation to come in 2018 and beyond, advisors will need to be at the top of their game and develop new skills, and they’ll have to do it fast!
Let’s hope they have some great interpersonal skills, can crack a great joke and make a mean espresso.