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6 Big Trends in Innovation and Change Happening in Fintech

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6 Big Trends in Innovation and Change Happening in Fintech

When someone sends me something interesting, I can’t help but share it so this insight from Susan Visser came at just the right moment. Susan and I have exchanged various ideas over the years, so here’s her view of the key Fintech trends.

Summary
 

Data is having a tremendous impact on customer experience, and through enhanced insight is boosting customer profitability in the financial sector. Take a brief glimpse at six trends in which fintech innovation is steering imaginative and profound approaches to rich customer experiences for financial consumers.

The biggest trend in fintech today is centered around improving customer experiences. Some say that millennials are driving this push, but perhaps the cause is much subtle. Millennials are known to be tech-savvy and often reject apps or products that do not integrate easily into their lifestyle. But, as digital and mobile technologies become part of daily life, everyone is demanding that the interfaces we interact with fit into the way we want to do things—seamlessly and effortlessly.

A deep dive into innovation
 

It is important to take into account the customer experience changes that are occurring around us that perhaps can be summarized as Uberization. Essentially, Uber and others like it—Airbnb and Alibaba, for example—are interfaces to common chores in our lives: calling for a taxi, booking a vacation or making a retail purchase. Now, we’re finally seeing these human-like, yet technology-based, interfaces showing up in financial services like banking, wealth management and insurance. Let’s explore 6 examples of innovation and change happening now in fintech.

1. Chat applications
 

Applications that accommodate chats are now being integrated into the banking world. Earlier this year, Facebook launched its Messenger Platform to “build deeper interactions with its customers on Messenger in a way that is contextual, convenient and delightful, with control at its core.” TD Bank was the first bank to integrate Messenger with customer service.

Learn more about chat applications for banking in a recent Finance in Focus Podcast featuring Jeffry Chan, manager of marketing innovations at TD Bank Group and Chris Skinner, CEO, The Finanser, Ltd., and chairman, The Financial Service Club.

2. Biometric authentication
 

Data security is a prime concern, especially when we consider access to our money. Security and easy access are at opposite sides of the table in this discussion, so you can be sure that debates around biometric authentication are very active. But a great deal of risk currently surrounds retinal and fingerprint scans, as implied by the title of the recent Phys.org article “Retinal Scans and Fingerprint Checks: High Tech or High Risk?” by Chris Marr.

And in the article, “Biometrics Continues Its Move into Financial Services,” Paul Schaus writes: “About 50 financial institutions around the world are beginning to implement biometric authentication at their contact centers.” As finance companies test the technology, security is expected to improve and more of these organizations will adopt this technology.

3. Voice recognition
 

Before the emergence of the smartphone there was the cell phone. We might have used it for some texting, but we primarily used our now old-fashioned cell phones as, well, a phone, with the core purpose being to simply to speak to another person. With smartphones, not only can we talk to another person, but we’re also increasingly able to use the device to interact with apps by issuing commands, searching the Internet or dictating a message to be sent as text.

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In March 2016, Capital One became the first financial institution to enable clients to access their finances using just their voice. Those who activate this service can speak into Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, including Echo, to get their account balances and pay bills. Expect to see much greater activity in this area. As we learn from Mark Ryan in the article “Will Voice Recognition Kill Online Banking?”: “All of the big players in web and software are pouring large investments into voice-driven tools.” Ryan cites Google Now, the Amazon Alexa Channel, Microsoft Cortana, Facebook’s M and the Nuance Dragon Speech Recognition software as making significant improvements in voice recognition tools during the last five years.

4. Internet of Things
 

Every industry and business is exploring the exciting topic of the Internet of Things (IoT). From IBM’s perspective, as the Internet of Things becomes ubiquitous and the cost of embedding connectivity and intelligence becomes increasingly more cost-effective, companies are now focusing on how to successfully compete in the Internet of Things.

The most obvious example of this technology in finance is in wearable devices such as smartwatches. Fitbit, which has 13 million active users of its fitness-tracking device, is poised to take advantage of this technology with its recent purchase of the start-up Coin. Right now, these devices are being used as a way to pay for purchases, but the potential is much larger when location services are included. Getting notifications is pretty easy when your bank account is in danger of overdraft, but alerts for sales based on your location is the next logical evolution. More advanced uses of the Internet of Things include having your refrigerator order and pay for groceries when supplies get low or your car paying for gas just by connecting to a pump.

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5. Blockchain
 

Blockchain, also known as a distributed ledger, is a foundation for transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes. One of the use cases Chris Skinner points out in his Brave New Coin article, “The Five Major Use Cases for Financial Blockchains,” is that blockchain digitizes contracts. And in doing so, it can eliminate legal paperwork “because you can record something on a shared ledger and, once recorded, it is irrefutable, digital proof that this thing happened at that time on this date between these counterparties.” Imagine buying a car, a house or a condo and needing only an electronic record of the transaction.

6. Artificial intelligence and cognitive computing
 

Computers that understand reason and learn by themselves constitutes one of the biggest trends we’re seeing this year. IBM Watson might be the best known implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) at this point. Watson understands natural language that humans use, and it is able to improve its algorithms by continually ingesting massive amounts of structured and unstructured data. Of course, the idea isn’t to eliminate humans; rather it is to help us make decisions faster, more accurately and more efficiently than ever.

Another example in this area is the recent addition of robots to banking branches in Japan. In the article “Robots and AI Invade Banking” appearing on The Financial Brand website, Jim Marous introduces us to Mizuho Bank’s use of a robot named Pepper. The robot “communicates in multiple languages, using sensors and cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and having the ability to evolve its skills over time through ongoing learning.”

Rich insights for customizing the customer experience
 

Clients want to receive personalized advice and tailored portfolio recommendations. To meet these expectations, banks can now use data to not only enhance customer experience, but also to boost customer profitability. Consider employing client segmentation based on behavioral profiles, while also using unstructured data combined with structured data to predict life events and help banks deliver customized advice.

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