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by Viktoria Bebbington, Account Director, The Edge

A very good friend of mine moved to Rio De Janeiro 5 years ago and started her own marketing business. Living in the sunshine and loving life! So far so successful right? Except this wasn’t always the case because she was constantly chasing her tail and trying to organise her working life.  She never quite managed to get it all done and as a result found herself working evenings and weekends – not exactly living the dream!

These days those concerns are a distant memory, and it’s all due to one big change that she made to her life. She began using a Digital Assistant and has never looked back. The Assistant helps her to manage her schedule, her emails, her to-do list and even offers her a concierge service!

My friends A.I story made me think about other trends happening at the moment- particularly in the world of finance. Banks are currently spending billions to try and stay ahead of the FINTECH’s. So what amazing solutions are they coming up with? What’s trending and what’s disrupting the industry?

Here are my top 5 Trends in Finance at the moment…

AI

More and more people are using Digital Assistants in their work and home life. Bots can offer help and direct calls more quickly and voice assistants are being developed to handle banking functions as well. One bank in Singapore has recently partnered with Google to launch the first A.I powered voice banking. Customers will be able to start conversations about a variety of banking services including calculating mortgage loan amounts, planning future savings, receiving the latest financial market updates and searching for nearby bank branches or ATM’s.

Already available is Olivia, a robo-advisor financial assistant. Olivia describes herself as clever, not complicated. Users can look at their accounts from multiple banks at the same time. Olivia then tracks these and gives useful insights on your spending and how you could potentially be smarter with your money. I’m not sure what Olivia will think about my spend on clothes and shoes each month- I’ll keep you posted! [Source: CNBC and Olivia]

BLOCKCHAIN

Put simply, ‘The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.’ Initially treated with skepticism by others, the global tech community embraced Blockchain and found many potential uses for the technology, disrupting multiple sectors.

Banking in particular is exploring the use of the technology to enable the exchange of funds between institutions more expediently, cheaply and securely- in seconds rather than days. But that only scratches the surface of the possibilities. With the potential savings in cost and labour it could create for the global financial market, this technological advance is having wide-reaching appeal and implications. (Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution (2016)

COLLABORATION IS THE NEW INNOVATION

Most of the big brands have realised that working in a collaborative way can affect your bottom line for the better.  Many have an innovation or incubation space to partner with start-ups, creating a place where the innovation and energy of new thought can mix with established entities. [Source: CNBC]

As a partner Mastercard offers a rapid path works directly with later-stage start-ups. They offer a rapid path to scale, dedicated support, unparalleled access to channels and customers as well as strategic investment. Take a look here. Across all sectors, collaboration is emerging as the most effective way of delivering new customer-focused technology quickly.

DIGITAL ONLY BANKS

Today, banks can meet their customers’ needs through digital platforms. As a result, we’re witnessing a growing number of digital banks that have no physical branches and provide financial services with the help of apps. In Singapore they are discussing the possibility of allowing virtual banks to operate in the city state. “Monetary Authority of Singapore is studying whether to admit such digital-only banks with non-bank parentage” the financial regulator said (Bloomberg News)

Digital-only banks are particularly popular among millennials, who prefer to use mobile banking services that let them create accounts and make financial transactions using mobile devices. [Source: Ruby Garage].

Those who are younger still – Generation Z, born mid-1990s to the early 2000s – possess advanced digital knowledge and are not just doing their banking online, they’re making their money there too, with huge young influencers on platforms such as YouTube making millions through their own channels. Expect completely autonomous, AI-powered banking in a ‘tokenised economy’, where BIOS chips keep you regularly updated on your current (and we mean by-the-second!) balance.

FINANCIAL INCLUSION

In this day and age we are all trying to be as fair and as inclusive as possible, and many banks are doing the same. Financial inclusion is all about individuals and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services. These include transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – all delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.

The opposite of this is financial exclusion- referring to situations in which financial services (such as those mentioned above) are not available. This often occurs in more economically disadvantaged areas, or areas that traditional financial services institutions have deemed not worth the investment. So what’s being done to change this?

Mobile banking can be far more accessible than traditional banks in certain areas. First Bank of Nigeria Limited has said its commitment to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria has received a great boost with its network of mobile money agents growing to over 22,000 agents. Speaking recently in Lagos, the Deputy Managing Director, First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, said “the bank sought and got a mobile money license in 2012.”  They then set up Firstmonie, a wallet platform with over four million customers. Firstmonie has had a transformational impact on reaching low-income and historically unbanked households in Nigeria. (Source thisdaylive.com)

So there you have it, my top 5 trends. There’s a lot going on and it feels like it’s moving in the right direction and becoming much more focussed around people like you and I- the customer! The banks are taking notice of who we are as individuals and tailoring their product to us- long may it continue!

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