Top 5 Reasons I’m Thankful for Fintech

It’s the season of giving thanks in the U.S., and what better way to celebrate than to reflect on why I’m thankful for fintech. As it turns out, there are a lot of reasons. Not only does fintech impact how I transact every day, the fintech industry is also responsible for some great friendships I’ve made over the past ten years working in the space.

Great friends aside, here are the top 5 reasons I’m thankful for our growing industry:

1) I don’t need to use cash

This is a simple one. As a typical millennial, I rarely carry cash and I only use my checkbook a couple of times a year to pay contractors. Using a debit card protects me from losing cash (which happens to me all the time), makes in-person transactions faster, makes online transactions possible, and helps me track where my money goes each month… which leads me to reason number two.

2) Puts me more in control of my finances

PFM has been around since the dawn of fintech, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. As with most banks these days, my bank leverages my transaction data to show me a breakdown of my actual spending habits. This means that instead of looking at a hand-drawn budget to determine where every paycheck goes, I’m able to see at a glance how I spend my money.

3) Helps plan for the future

Planning for retirement is intimidating, especially when you don’t have a personal financial advisor to consult. This is why I’m so thankful for roboadvisory tools that create inexpensive and easy-to-use investing strategies. These platforms offer boosted confidence as well as increased returns.

4) Keeps my money and identity secure

There are a lot of fintech companies working in the security space these days– and for good reason. It’s difficult to keep clients’ money out of a cyber criminal’s reach, especially when their nefarious strategies are continuously evolving. And while fintechs that don’t hold their clients’ financial assets may not have this issue, they certainly have the responsibility to protect their client’s personal information. It’s good to know there are very smart people creating complex solutions that minimize the chances of getting hacked.

5) Offers alternative investments

You know the widely held belief that millennials don’t trust the stock market? It holds true for me. I graduated from college in 2012 at the height of the recession. Two weeks before receiving my diploma my only job offer was a ranch hand on Ted Turner’s bison ranch just south of Bozeman, Montana (don’t worry, the Boeing company came through a week later with a formal job offer). So though I certainly have a fair amount of money in the stock market, I also rely on alternative investments such as real estate to carry me through when the market tanks again.

Fintech Four: Santandar, Robo-Advisors, Crowdfunding, Apple Watches

four_blockHere are four developments making headlines last week:

1. According to Massolution, a research company that tracks crowdfunding volume, the total amount of debt and/or equity raised through so-called peer-to-peer platforms in 2014 was $12.2 billion:

  • Debt crowdfunding is up 3.2x year over year:
    2014 = $11.1 billion; 2013 = $3.4 billion
  • Equity crowdfunding up 2.8x year over year:
    2014 = $1.1 billion; 2013 = $390 million
  • Combined total up 3.2x:
    2014 = $12.2 billion; 2013 = $3.8 billion

Source: Massolution, 31 March 2014

2. Financial apps for the Apple Watch are slowly rolling out in advance of the 24 April 2015 launch. So far we have only four released but there are certain to be hundreds by year-end. We’ll definitely have a few Apple Watch demos at next month’s FinovateSpring15. According to Bank Innovations, the following financial institutions have iWatch apps available three weeks in advance of its introduction:

  • Citibank
  • Mint
  • Desjardins (Canadian Credit Union coalition)
  • Tangerine unit of ScotiaBank

Source: Bank Innovations, 31 March 2015

3. Santander goes all-in on mobile meal-pay. The amount of money flowing into the fintech sector is staggering, amounting to more than $3 billion so far this year. But investments from banks are still relatively rare; however, this week Spanish giant Santander made a bold bet on the mobile-payments space, investing $5 million into MyCheck’s Series B round. MyCheck offers a payments platform to restaurant chains such as Busaba and Prezzo in the U.K., and Blockheads and Aroma in the U.S. We are so looking forward to the uber-experience when dining out. I wonder if it will eventually put an end to discretionary tipping?

Source: TechCrunch, 29 March 2015

4. Robo-advisers are taking over the world, or at least that’s what it seems after watching hundreds of millions in venture capital (VC) money flow to the simplified investment platforms (case in point, VentureBeat is reporting that Acorns has attracted another $10 million to its service which invests your spare change). I had a great conversation this week with Herbert Moore, founder of WiseBanyan, an ETF-based asset-allocation service in the same vein as Betterment, FutureAdvisor, Wealthfront and others. But WiseBanyan has completely eliminated the asset-management fees, a bold move that is getting it plenty of attention. (My WiseBanyan beta-invite arrived as I was writing this, so am looking forward to giving it a spin).