With the advent of technology, we’ve seen men on the moon, self-driving cars, and the rise of artificial intelligence. All of that’s exciting, but not all too relevant to the average person’s day-to-day life. However, coinciding with technology's advancements of 2016 is a FinTech golden age with the power to change your personal finances.
In our digital age, billions of people will join the online community for years to come. Therefore, we’ll continue to see a quick response from FinTech entrepreneurs offering innovative solutions to both consumers and businesses. Looking at how recent successes in technology have paved a new landscape for finance, we see that the future may bring services such as enhanced financial education, investment advice, better payments processing, and smarter compliance to the public.
Here are five big changes we forecast in 2016. Make sure to stay up to date and be prepared to take advantage of the constant shifts in the world of personal finance.(For related reading, see: 10 FinTech Companies to Watch in 2016.)
1. The Democratization of Finance
Investopedia is proof of the democratization of finance—it offers free access to a wealth of easy-to-digest knowledge and tools. With the widespread use of the Internet, average people have immense financial knowledge at their fingertips – it’s up to them how they’d like to use it.
In 2016 and forward, entrepreneurs provide platforms by which consumers can track their spending and optimize their investment strategies. Jonathan Stein, founder and CEO of robo-advisor firm Betterment tweeted, “We’ll see the beginning of the end of the Retirement Crisis with greater access to advice via low-cost services and better 401ks.” Another startup, LearnVest, offers comprehensive financial planning—from retirement to emergency planning and asset allocation at a relatively low, $19 a month and $299 one-time fee.
2. Facilitating Easy and Safe Spending
Now, this point may not always be positive for the consumer. Easier payments sometimes mean frivolous spending, but it can also translate into a convenience that saves time (and, therefore, money). As consumers, we want our shopping experience to be quick, painless and safe. With identity theft on the rise, online shoppers are more skeptical of their virtual transactions. Startups such as payment company Stripe have helped Apple, Twitter, and Facebook launch e-commerce by dealing with the multitude of issues that arise with online payment processing. Stripe congregates and simplifies billing, fraud prevention, currency conversions, and other services on a single platform.
3. Make Sure You Comply
Along with the technology boom of the 21st century comes a widespread increase in regulation. Compliance is costly for both businesses and individuals. Furthermore, transaction processing technology and software pose threats to security standards. New FinTech startups are trying to integrate the two so that companies can continue to grow online while without breaking the law. For example, the online identity verification leader, Trulioo announced raised $15 million in the largest FinTech equity financing round of 2015. The startup aims to “improve trust and safety online, focusing on compliance and fraud risk mitigation in the fast growing cross-border payment industry.”
4. Investing Your Money
Robo-advisors are only going to increase in relevancy and abundance in 2016. Investing is a lucrative endeavor that’s no longer reserved for the rich. Instead, the market will reward those who invest wisely regardless of financial history. There will be fewer minimums and costs going forward, while the realm of investment opportunities will open up and offer complex products up to the layperson. The quality of the services will increase with more competition in the industry and greater demand for the services. For example, the robo advisor Wealthfront aims to replace traditional wealth advisors altogether, by “personalizing, diversifying, and rebalancing low-fee Individual IRA, Roth IRA & 401(k) rollover accounts.” Other platforms such as Acorns aim to inspire investment in novice investors by showing how fruitful it can be to invest spare change in stocks and mutual funds. (To learn more, see: What’s Next for the Robo-Advisor Space?)
5. New Loan Opportunities
With the same theme of facilitating and democratizing access, online loan platforms are helping to offer up completely new ways for individuals to get loans. In the past, financing for small businesses and consumers has been hard for those with past lending problems or lack of capital. Now, these groups are granted access to loans through alternative lending. Proof of the success of these startups is the entrance of investment banks into the online lending space. (To learn more, read: Goldman Sachs’s Entry Into Online Lending.) Other advancements include a partnership between J.P Morgan and OnDeck Capital (NYSE: ONDK), in which the two will work together to originate, underwrite and issue loans directly to small businesses.
Other platforms get creative with lending, such as SoFi, which helps refinance student loans and mortgages, and Lending Club, which allows for peer-to-peer lending . (To learn more, see: Peer-To-Peer Lending Breaks Down Financial Borders.)
The Bottom Line
The digital age will bring billions of people across the globe onto the worldwide web. As the global economy moves to the digital realm, we see a simultaneous reaction from FinTech entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on this growing market. Analyzing the recent trends, we put together a list of major changes that may affect your finances in 2016. In the New Year, we’ll see a shift towards facilitating financial education, compliance, payments processing and investment, all while offering solutions to a growing digital economy.