How Can We Tap Into the Female Financial Market?

How Can We Tap Into the Female Financial Market?

This is a guest post written by Dr. Anette Broløs of Broløs Consult and Dr. Erin B. Taylor of Finthropology.

Finances have long been considered a man’s domain. Women’s economic power is, however, growing along with growing equality in education, changing family patterns, and more focus on gender diversity.

With growing economic power, the market potential to serve women with suitable financial solutions is growing, too. During the last 5 to 10 years, there has been rapid growth in the number of organizations offering female-focused financial services. Yet Oliver Wyman estimates that companies are missing out on $700 billion in profit by not catering to the female market.[1]

What can we do to tap into the female financial market?

This question is at the center of two reports we published in the last year asking why women might need or want their own financial services.[2] How does women’s behaviour differ from that of men? What kinds of features might women need in financial services that are different to those for everyone? And is there anything special about serving women, or is it just part of the broader trend towards developing client-centric solutions?

Figure 1: What goes into designing financial services for women?

In the first report, Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked (2020), we explored solutions for women in-depth and presented an analysis of what makes financial solutions ‘female.’ In the second report we studied the characteristics of 102 organizations offering financial services to women, comparing them with external statistics and reports.

We found that there are– at least for now– definite differences between what men and women look for in financial services. In Figure 1 we provide an overview of what makes a product or service targeted at women: looking at design, features, values, and delivery.

We also found that many providers offer “traditional” services (savings, investment, credit, etc.) embedded in other services such as advice, impact solutions, education, mentorship, and networks. Women seem to value these integrated services more than men because they provide a more personal and social approach to finances. Interestingly, there are an increasing number of networks, associations, and NGOs that offer services like learning and networks without actually offering traditional financial services— a new development in the market.

The values of companies that focus on women are also different from those catering to a broader market. The latter tend to focus on “value for money,” whereas the female-focused organizations focus on culture, empowerment, creativity, and freedom.

And so, providing female-focused financial services isn’t just about improving messaging or offering ‘wrap around’ services on existing offers. The majority of organizations that we studied designed their services for women from the outset, and many of them were founded— and led— by women. Many founders come with a solid background in financial services.

So, what can fintechs and incumbent financial service providers do to tap into this important market?

We find that two elements are at the core of successfully reaching this market. [3] The most important is to develop a holistic understanding of customer needs. Women look for assistance to achieve financial health and wellbeing for themselves and their families, and so they prefer solutions that fit into their real life, rather than just considering factors like risk and return.

This means, for example, that investment services for women should not only focus on helping them get the highest profit possible, but also on investing in education, a better life, and security for women and their families.

Offering services to women also means going beyond questions of financial literacy. Good financial services for women will help them to gain control over economic decisions in both the short and long term.

Another important element to understand is how digital solutions can support the provision of holistic services. Women are avid users of integrated, easy-to-access solutions.

A good place to start is to invest in better understanding the female market and its characteristics. This may be assisted by connecting with other organizations to share best practices and create co-learning opportunities.[4]

Another important focal point is the generation of reliable data and insights. To assist with this, companies can collect sex-disaggregated data on customers to shed insights into gender differences in product and service use. They can also take the time to research female customers’ behaviour and user experience, including their life contexts, needs, and preferences.

Companies can adapt the innovation and development process to be more customer-focused and less technology-driven. They can introduce customer knowledge into innovation and put co-creation at the centre of the process.

We encourage organizations to develop holistic value propositions that integrate financial offerings into everyday activities, as well as personal networks and communities. As part of this, they can communicate with women in ways that speak to their life contexts, and which are inclusive rather than exclusive.

When developing services for women it is also important to have an appropriately diverse team to research and design them. Companies can work on internal organizational diversity, including capitalizing on team diversity to reduce the risk of unconscious biases entering into service design. This may be assisted by partnering with fintechs that are already
experienced in providing services for women.

This is a simple enough recipe that also fits the general trend towards customization, so there is really no excuse not to get started.


[1] Oliver Wyman. 2020. Women in Financial Services 2020. May

[2] Anette Broløs and Erin B. Taylor. 2020. Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked. EWPN and Keen Innovation and Erin B. Taylor and Anette Broløs. 2021 Female Finance in Figures. EWPN, Keen Innovation and Bank Cler.

[3] We decided to focus on the general findings and perspectives here. There are many important learnings to put to use in developing services for women-led SME’s and particularly to the economic access and development in poorer economies.

[4] We take inspiration from the Financial Alliance for Women. In their October 2020 report they indicate a number of ways to push forward: 1) Collecting sex disaggregated data; 2) Understanding women’s realities, needs and preferences; 3) Working with gender biases; 4) Developing holistic value propositions; 5) Setting these in marketing that appeals to women.

What the U.S. Can Learn From Open Banking Abroad

What the U.S. Can Learn From Open Banking Abroad

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Across the world, open banking is creating opportunities for banks, fintech platforms, and individuals like never before. Open banking allows third-party sources to use a financial institution’s existing platform or resources to provide their own services. With consumer permission, open banking allows these outside sources to grow the industry and give power to the people.

However, some countries inevitably use open banking more than others. Currently, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia are two examples to follow. While the United States has made significant progress, it has a lot to learn from the countries that are leading this form of finance. That way, more opportunities open up for enterprises and consumers alike.

Where the U.S. stands

The U.S. is progressive in some ways with open banking. In others, it needs work. Notably, platforms like Venmo and PayPal expand on what’s possible for users. They allow you to make payments or transfer funds in the blink of an eye. However, compared to other countries, the States fall flat.

Big tech is currently a hot political topic due to the potential mishandling of user data. Though conversations like these are not uncommon elsewhere in the world, the U.S. needs to nail down some federal regulations. As of now, the U.S. still doesn’t have a federal-level law on data compliance. It’s up to each state to enforce its own regulations.

Brick-and-mortar locations may have an easier time following individual state guidelines, but the nature of open banking is inherently digital. These fintech services span across state borders, which makes compliance trickier without federal guidance.

For the country to proceed, the first step will be getting a universal law in place that shows banks and tech companies exactly how they must operate when it comes to compliance.

Engagement must increase

Open banking should welcome disruption. A country with a few centralized banks is one that does not allow for much disruption. Instead, only the top banks and tech companies have room to expand and create, leaving startups and smaller companies in the dust.

The U.S. has big tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft that each delve into new tech. For instance, Apple Pay and Google Pay let you buy on smartphones instantly.

The U.K. has an ideal open banking model that disrupts this lack of inclusivity. In 2018, the nation introduced the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). This initiative put an emphasis on increasing competition and creativity in the financial field. Ultimately, this directive wanted to create a more equal landscape between banks and fintech companies.

Since its introduction, 300 fintech brands have joined the new finance-oriented environment in the U.K. In the States, new brands pop up all the time. However, whether or not they stick and make an impact is a different story. The competitive market must change in the U.S. so more open banking innovation emerges.

Transparency is essential

People want to know what goes on with their data. They want to know who’s using it and for what — which inherently includes when third-party platforms are part of the equation. In a survey, almost 40% of respondents would reconsider their selected features if it meant a third party required access. This mistrust is a product of poor transparency throughout the industry.

Saudi Arabia recently expanded on its plans to make open banking more accessible for fintech companies. Through this process, transparency becomes a key factor. The Saudia Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the central bank, will create a new initiative that focuses on bringing consumers into the loop.

With the increased use of technology for banking, investing, and mobile payments, more and more people rely on technology daily. SAMA understands this need to combine financial and digital literacy, doing so through open banking. With consumer permission, third parties can use data to connect the financial institution with personal finance services.

The U.S. must use the same tactics of bringing transparency and functionality together through open banking. That way, digital literacy in the U.S. incorporates access to quick purchases, investments, and transfers alongside a better understanding of how companies use data.

Changing the U.S.

Apps like Venmo and PayPal are a good start to open banking. You’ll find that newer fintech platforms, like Robinhood, Acorns, and MoneyLion are popular resources alongside the countless startups launching daily. While nourishing open banking features and fintechs is beneficial, the underlying theme is the most critical — more regulation is the key to widespread adoption. With it, the U.S. can then fully see the benefits of this form of finance.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

How Embedded Finance Trends Are Transforming These 3 Industries

How Embedded Finance Trends Are Transforming These 3 Industries

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Embedded finance has taken the financial industry by storm. What started from banking-as-a-service (BaaS) has now developed into a full-blown feature that enterprises of all kinds are integrating.

The term embedded finance refers to companies that have historically been separate from financial services that now integrate them within a platform or app. During this integration, the company still retains control over the customer experience. It could be something as simple as paying a bill or something more complex, like full-fledged credit cards.

These trends are coming on strong. While they originated with banking services, embedded finance could end up becoming a bigger industry on its own. The reason for this growth can be seen in the following sectors.

Retail

The retail world has evolved and adapted to many historic changes, from e-commerce to new payment methods. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on online shopping. Apps are now using embedded finance.

Delivery apps adapted as food takeout skyrocketed into popularity throughout the pandemic. Users can now save their credit or debit card information to apps like Doordash and Grubhub. Specific apps for restaurants also offer embedded finance options.

Similar things are happening elsewhere in the retail world. Shopify has connected businesses and customers quickly and efficiently with new embedded tech channels. Financial information is saved for customers so payments are a breeze. On the other side of the transaction, the embedded financial tech includes a dashboard for retailers to view and manage profits and individual orders.

These kinds of integrations cut out the need for a bank or other financial institution. Instead, consumers can do it all themselves.

Automotive

The automotive industry has always done business through banks. When someone buys or leases a vehicle, dealers will contact a financial institution to better understand someone’s standing and credit. The industry is shifting, though.

Tesla is a key example of how embedded tech trends are impacting the automotive field. Shoppers can already use car sites and apps to pay their leases, but Tesla goes a step further and offers car insurance. It monopolizes on the opportunity to provide discounts.

Ridesharing has become a massive field. Through apps like Uber and Lyft, customers can call a car in minutes. These apps have evolved over time and now offer embedded financial services where customers can pay right from the app immediately after the driver drops them off.

This form of payment adds an extra layer of convenience that other services like taxis don’t offer.

Tech

In the past several years, big tech companies have gone from prominent to all-encompassing. Notably, Google and Apple have stepped up their financial services in a short period, offering things like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Customers can also use their Apple or Google wallets to store credit and debit cards. Moreover, Apple rolled out its first credit card in 2019.

These advancements mark a shift in the big tech world. Big companies are slowly separating from financial institutions and taking on those roles themselves. For instance, if you use your Apple Card from your Apple Wallet to pay for items, none of that interaction ever leaves the company’s control.

Embedded finance changes are happening on smaller scales in the tech world, too. Data and analytics companies may use tools like machine learning to adapt to consumer behavior when making purchases. They can then better enable companies in all industries to provide more embedded tech.

What the Embedded Finance Trends Mean

These three industries are pillars of innovation around the world. Banking-as-a-service has catapulted financial technology to the forefront of these fields, and embedded finance trends have become the norm. It may even outshine BaaS soon.

Physical branch locations decreased by 7% from 2015 through 2020 due to the rise in online banking. The turn to virtual resources is slowly taking over, which seems to be the natural progression of these industries — especially as the pandemic enforces the use of remote tech.

Embedded finance allows companies and consumers to operate independently from banks and financial institutions. This dynamic gives more agency to the industries themselves, helping to boost engagement and profits.

From here, more mobile apps and websites will directly incorporate financial resources into their dynamics. Big tech companies like Apple and Google are already pushing the boundaries of what embedded tech can do. Others are likely to follow suit.

The Convenience Factor

Embedding financial resources into industries that haven’t historically worked in finance is more than just a way for companies to engage consumers. They’re also a win for customers. After all, people tend to look for the most convenient ways to do things. Having everything in one place is a financial tech trend that is only going to grow from here.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

Why Fintech Is Slowly Integrating Into The Insurance Industry

Why Fintech Is Slowly Integrating Into The Insurance Industry

The following is a guest blog post by Paul Monaco, Client Director at Focus Oxford Risk Management

The adoption of financial technology continues to rise in general. This progression over time means that not only are there more platforms and use cases for fintech, but companies are also becoming more acclimatised to integrating them into their business plans.

Historically, insurance as a sector has been slower to adopt the latest in technology, and the case of financial technology is no expectation. Often pictured as huge swarms of suited figures in high rise buildings, in fact, the insurance industry is populated with businesses of varying sizes and diverse specialities.

As such, we can see a discrepancy in the adoption of the latest fintech solutions within insurance. The largest corporations offering simpler policies benefit from enhanced budgets and capacity, leaving them in good standing to adopt the solutions internally. The wealth of data available to these businesses also makes the benefits to them greater. Conversely, smaller providers and brokerages offering more bespoke policies have less faith in the ability of fintech to actually make their lives easier, and often with a lower ceiling of reward.

The current adoption of fintech in insurance

Adopting the advancement of technology at policyholder level is a clear example of how larger insurance companies are utilising fintech at the moment. The Internet of Things allows more devices than ever to report data. In the case of car insurance, policyholders are offered the use of an application with the incentive to potentially reduce premiums. This allows increased telemetrics data which can then feed into a better understanding of risk and necessary premium and coverage levels.

This adoption of policy level technology is also seen by some insurers within the health and life insurance sector. Increasingly, a consumer may be offered a device, such as a smartwatch, which not only incentivises the person to take out the policy but also gives opportunities to better understand the data behind claimants for insurance providers.

While consumer insurance is most commonly synonymous with fintech, there is an emerging case for use in the commercial sector. The utilisation of smart sensor technology for flood risks coverage is becoming more common when providing insurance for businesses. The lower cost of such setups is certainly a mitigating factor, and also allows for simpler types of coverage that reduce claim payment periods.

The key differentiator could be considered the gathering of data for companies of differing sizes in the insurance sector. At present, large providers can gain a better understanding of their clientele, allowing them to adjust policy requirements to minimise risks over time.

However, the use of existing customer data has been adopted more recently by insurance companies of all sizes. Once a policyholder has taken out a policy, the benefits of automated touchpoints have become valuable to even the smaller companies. With the use of data such as policy renewal dates, sequences can easily be created to keep in touch with customers and introduce the idea of relevant cross-sell opportunities at an early stage as they come up to renewal. Software itself is usually fairly intuitive. Platforms such as Brief Your Market remove the intense training previously required to run campaigns effectively internally.

What is slowing the adoption of fintech?

While fintech will surely become even more intrinsic to the insurance sector in the future, there can be no doubt that adoption rates will continue to be slow for most. That adoption is not from a lack of knowledge; 74% of respondents to a 2014 survey saw fintech innovations as a challenge for the insurance sector.

Interestingly that same survey found the insurance industry placed a higher than average value to fintech, compared to other financial sectors. This shows the constraints on insurance companies aren’t as clear cut as they may seem. Fears of reducing margins down even further and of moving from a focus on short term strategies to longer-term ones are likely constraints.

Furthermore, the adoption within the more specialist arms of the insurance industry will be understandably slower to adopt fintech at all levels. The nature of specialist insurance brokers hinges on their speciality of providing a human service for those that require a particular level of coverage or have constraints preventing traditional policies. Utilising fintech could prevent brokers from providing this high level of service.

Within such sectors, it’s likely that the primary use of fintech will continue to be more for leveraging current customer data and refining internal operations to save time.

What’s in the future for fintech & insurance?

Naturally, the unstable financial situation brought on by COVID-19 will likely lead to slightly lower adoption rates in 2021. Whilst the application of AI and increasing understanding of policy risks may continue to be alluring to providers, it’s highly unlikely that this will accelerate given the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

Moving beyond the ripple effect of COVID-19 there is no doubt that fintech will continue to grow, and increasingly so within the smaller providers and brokers. Likely, platforms will develop that will be more focussed on partnerships with these companies, rather than the internal adoption seen by the largest companies with the highest budgets.


Paul Monaco is Client Director at Focus Oxford Risk Management and specializes in the advice and arrangement of specialist business insurance and risk management to the Life Science, Medical Device, Scientific Research and Technology Sectors from new business start-ups through to PLCs.

The Commodification of Payments Platforms

The Commodification of Payments Platforms

The following is a guest post by Sandeep Sood, CEO of Kunai.

Last year, Facebook announced that all Whatsapp users in India would be able to send payments using India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

UPI was responsible for 2 billion payments in India during the last month alone. It makes it possible for Indians to pay each other seamlessly, regardless of the platform or bank account they are using. Add 400 million Whatsapp users to this system, and you have the most powerful payment solution anywhere in the world.

You also have the blueprint for the future of payments. In my view, that future is a delightfully simple one, in which universal payments solutions are an inevitability, with or without government standards like UPI;

The story in India is instructive. Before UPI, Softbank and Alibaba-backed Paytm had spent years and millions of dollars building and marketing proprietary digital wallets. UPI has made their solutions irrelevant overnight.

Today, proprietary wallets and payment platforms around the world are attempting to build moats through features and network effects. Yet, there is an obvious ceiling to what people want from their payment solutions…and the reality is that “pay anyone quickly” captures almost everything customers want.

When competing payment solutions reach feature parity, the only thing left are network effects. This means that each solution will have a choice: join a universal standard or fade into obscurity, like Paytm in India. The vast majority will choose to join a universal standard, which means they will become easy to replace.

This is a great outcome for economic growth and FinTech innovation. It is also fertile ground for the upcoming currency revolution. Universal payment solutions will also accept any form of currency with a large user base, be it the US Dollar, the Chinese Yuan, Bitcoin, or Central Bank Digital Currency (CDBC). The currencies of the future won’t compete based on their network effects, but rather more important attributes, such as their monetary policy. This is good news for currency innovations like Bitcoin.

As a FinTech newbie in 2013, I was surprised to find conferences, websites, and companies dedicated exclusively to ‘payments’. I was ignorant to the fact that payments were still generally clumsy and cumbersome…and that they required so much infrastructure and resources to do well. I’m looking forward to a future where the innovation is happening at a level far beyond the enabling of payments.


Sandeep Sood is the CEO of Kunai. He’s been building quality agencies that attract quality teams in order to build quality products. He sold his first agency, Monsoon, to Capital One in 2015.


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Why Cyber Resilience is Important to Fintech Companies

Why Cyber Resilience is Important to Fintech Companies

The following is a guest post by Jack Warner, a cybersecurity expert with Techwarn.

According to a recent ImmuniWeb study, 98 percent of the world’s top 100 fintech startups are vulnerable to cyberattacks. And it’s not surprising that fintech is an attractive target for threat actors.

The rapid growth of financial technology combined with lagging regulations means there’s much more data to analyze and too few rules to govern how data is protected. These same factors make the sector susceptible to breaches and vulnerabilities, particularly in the wave of COVID-19 inspired cybercrime.

Financial institutions are increasingly adopting fintech solutions to handle the digital wave that’s happening all over the world. This swift tech transformation comes hand in hand with emerging cybersecurity risks, alongside a few old “favorites.”

With that in mind, it’s imperative that fintech enterprises take appropriate measures to secure data and systems as well as possible. Here, we take a look at the most pressing cyber risks facing fintech and why cyber resilience and not just cybersecurity is critical.

The cyber risks fintech companies face

While not comprehensive, the below attack types and recognized vulnerabilities are among the most concerning in the financial technology sector. Let’s begin with one of the most common attacks, malware.

Malware

Malware is a portmanteau term that combines malicious and software, and it designates any program that is explicitly designed to cause harm, be it to devices, data, or individual users. Within fintech, hackers may design malware to breach a company’s system and collect sensitive or critical information.

The Gustuff banking trojan, for example, emerged in the first half of 2019 and has since targeted numerous traditional institutions but also newer players, such as PayPal and Revolut.

Data breaches

Because many fintech platforms allow customers to store payment data such as card details and password credentials for convenience’s sake, these platforms are inherently vulnerable, and an attractive target. Even a small breach could lead to sensitive financial user details being compromised.

If third-party providers are involved, the risks are heightened, which is exactly how the 2020 Dave breach occurred.

Cloud environment vulnerabilities

Fintech providers often lead the pack when it comes to incorporating cloud-based computing into their information management systems. It’s something the industry can pride itself on and something other sectors lack. However, strong cloud security measures matter. If the cloud environment is vulnerable, so too is the company’s data.

Why cyber resilience is important for fintech companies

Firstly, it’s helpful to consider the differences and similarities between cybersecurity and cyber resilience, and how these two are intimately linked.

Cybersecurity versus cyber resilience

Cybersecurity refers to a set of defensive tools, strategies, standards, and protocols, all of which are designed to keep threats out of a fintech enterprise’s systems. In this sense, cybersecurity is purely a defense strategy.

Cyber resilience, on the other hand, encompasses cybersecurity’s aim to defend against threats, but takes things a few steps further. Cyber resilience can be defined as an entity’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a cyber attack.

It merges cybersecurity in the preparedness phase but also integrates solid business strategies to ensure an organization stays afloat after an attack occurs. After all, an attack doesn’t end after the fact, rather, the effects are long-lasting, expensive, and highly damaging to a company’s reputation.

In fintech, losing customer confidence is much more damaging than in other industries as we are dealing with financial information. To that end, having a solid cyber resilience plan in place is essential. That plan should cover all the bases, from getting prepared to financially recovering and mitigating reputational losses — the more detailed and in-depth, the better.

Creating cyber resilience

A fintech company’s cyber resilience plan may be more or less detailed depending on the size of the organization, any third-party links, the number of platforms available to clients, and other such factors. However, some basics should be standard across all companies:

  • Create a culture of cybersecurity — All staff should be aware that cybersecurity is everyone’s job, not just the IT department’s domain. Good digital hygiene and exacting standards make a lot of difference. Starting from the ground up means the company’s culture accepts cybersecurity as integral. Staff training and regular updates to standards and procedures help here.
  • Use a full suite of cybersecurity tools — Of course, logging out of accounts and avoiding suspicious links can only get an entity so far. Proper cyber resilience covers preparedness, and that’s where security software like VPNs and email scanners comes in. One of the functions of VPNs is encrypting data transmissions, while email scanners detect threats and can make a big difference to a company’s defenses.
  • Ask what happens when an attack occurs — Understand that an attack is more likely a matter of when and not if. How will the company deal with the immediate fallout, who does it need to inform and when, and how can the threat be removed as swiftly as possible?
  • Staying afloat — Fintech companies should have plans in place for retaining clients, getting back on their feet after an attack, and continuing to be financially viable. This part of a resilience plan can include all sorts of factors, such as post-attack PR and ways to pay off any regulatory fines.

There’s no doubt about it, cybersecurity risks and threats are increasing both in number and sophistication. Attacks can and will occur, so having a proper cyber resilience strategy in place is critical, especially in an industry where clients entrust us with their most sensitive information.

Jack Warner is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Warner frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on cybersecurity and privacy tools.


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A Helpful Guide for Nonprofit and Fintech Partnerships

A Helpful Guide for Nonprofit and Fintech Partnerships

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Financial tech and nonprofits have an opportunity to build partnerships and make the world a better place. If fintech companies want to work with nonprofits, they must establish trust and clearly outline the benefits of collaborating for the greater good.

Households in the United States are generous. According to National Philanthropic Trust, Americans gave $449.64 billion to various charities in 2019. However, people are increasingly demanding that the giving be easy and intuitive, which brings fintech into play. Even the way nonprofits manage the funds donated to them is changing.

Examples of fintech companies include Lending Club, Kabbage and Stripe. Meshing fintech and charity isn’t always an obvious choice. However, nonprofit technology is on the rise, and organizations benefit greatly from some of the advantages these brands bring to the table. Here are some of the benefits of fintech charity partnerships.

How Fintech and Charity Work Together

There is a growing move toward non-cash payments in charitable giving. Forbes reports in countries such as Sweden, cash-based payments make up 13% of transactions. This can impact traditional fundraising efforts, such as in-person collection baskets.

Fintech advances in the last decade have made it much easier for people to participate in charitable giving. There are numerous ways nonprofit technology helps organizations raise money. Rather than an in-person fundraising push, organizations raise money via social media and email campaigns. Not to mention philanthropies saw an increase in virtual fundraising campaigns in 2020, boosting the need for online financial services and resources at an unprecedented rate.

Nonprofits can only thrive because of the generosity of patrons and local businesses. A fintech business can team up with a charity, and both can develop stronger community relationships as a result. Individuals who support the organization will look to partner companies for their own fintech solutions. The charity benefits from gaining access to the business’s software for easier donations and tracking funds.

Nonprofit Technology Advances

The M + R Online Giving Benchmark Study found that online revenue grew about 10% in 2019. Facebook alone made up around 3.5% of online giving, with much of it occurring on Giving Tuesday.

In addition to ramping up the ways people give to nonprofits, financial management has gone into the cloud. Rather than keeping a paper book, nearly every organization uses some type of accounting software and big data to track giving and donors and figure out ways to increase revenue from year to year.

Benefits of Teaming Up

There are numerous benefits to fintech and charity partnerships. While some are quite obvious, others are more subtle.

More Exposure

When two companies team up, they both gain access to one another’s customer lists. For example, if a business offers an online payment gateway and it teams up with a local charity, it might send out a press release. Simply gaining exposure may bring in more donations for the nonprofit.

They also will let their members know they are using a partner’s payment system. If the software is donated, the nonprofit will offer a thank you. Some of its patrons are likely business owners who may need services. By working together, the charity and company both expand their reach.

In a study by Omnicom Group’s Cone Communications, researchers found 83% of millennials felt loyal to companies helping them contribute to causes. A partnership helps both the fintech firm and the non-profit organization.

Financial Help

Some fintech companies throw their financial support behind an organization. They offer technology advantages and also come alongside them to raise money for the cause. Businesses should care about the purpose of the charity it supports. It should tie into the company’s philosophy and help advance its own goals. Any donations can likely be written off on taxes while helping a local group.

Testing Systems

Offering software at no cost allows businesses to try out new features and work through bugs. Part of the agreement can be that it provides the nonprofit with updates first, and they’ll report issues so the company can fix them. They get the program for free, and the business receives instant feedback on what works and what needs tweaking.

Better Tracking

Most fintech companies offer better tracking features for all types of businesses. Charities will be on top of where donor funds go and if they’re being used wisely. When people give to an organization, they expect them to be good stewards of that generosity. With the right programs, the nonprofit can run reports and know in an instant how money gets spent and if they are actually making the difference they promised.

Fintech Charity Partnerships Can Improve Performance

When it comes to making a difference in the world, improved performance enhances productivity and allows volunteers to do more than they ever thought possible. Technology allows people to stay on top of tasks and ensure cash flow is never an issue. By working together, fintech and nonprofits can make a huge difference in the lives of those they serve.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.

Southeast Asia’s Fintech Boom: All You Need to Know

Southeast Asia’s Fintech Boom: All You Need to Know

The following is a guest post by Lily Tran, content writer for MoneyTap.

Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing fintech markets in the world. The expected market growth is estimated to be between $70 billion and $100 billion by 2020, outpacing the likes of the U.S., U.K. and China.

One of the contributing factors to this growth in this region is its insufficient financial inclusion. The World Bank data points to a lack of access to financial tools in southeast Asia. As per the data, in Indonesia, only 49% of adults have formal bank accounts; in Cambodia, the number is 22%, and in the Philippines and Vietnam, it’s 34% and 31%, respectively. The penetration of insurance and wealth management is also low.

This makes it difficult for people to save, borrow, and manage money easily. This has given a tremendous opportunity to fintech companies to offer innovative opportunities for unbanked consumers to take fintech services and improve their financial situation.

Investors are channelling funding into the region, with financial technologies as their primary investment. According to new data from CB Insights, fintech fundraising activity in southeast Asia grew by 143% year on year in 2018. Fintech investments in Southeast Asia increased by more than 30% through 2018 to reach approximately $6 billion.

An international finance company, Robocash Group, in its recent report released the names of the top five countries experiencing the fintech boom in southeast Asia. So let’s take a closer look:

1. Singapore

Singapore is at the forefront of the fintech boom, dominating the region’s fintech market for several years now. In 2017, 400 local fintechs raised a combined total of $229 million.

With an appetite to consume a range of fintech offerings, Singapore fetched more than 50% of all fintech deals made in the region between 2013 and 2016. The diversified fintech market includes fund transfers, cryptocurrency trading, peer-to-peer payments, investment apps, insurance services, money lending services, and crowdfunding platforms.

2. Indonesia

Indonesia is largely populated, but only over 50% of its population are active internet users. This means roughly 150 million people have the means to use fintech. 61% of Indonesia’s internet users have registered for mobile banking apps. And 11% of its population transact online to purchase items or pay bills. However, online payments increased to $313.6 million in 2018.

By the end of 2019, only 49% of Indonesia’s population had a bank account. Now, alternative payment platforms are rising in popularity. Peer-to-peer payment platforms make up over 30% of the all fintechs. Along with payment platforms, e-commerce is expected to push the market further forward.

3. The Philippines

2018 saw the Philippines’ central bank roll out plans to make at least a fifth of its transactions go digital within two years. The digital payment adoption was projected to increase by 20% by 2020.

The country has 71% active internet users and 65.5% unbanked. And fintech companies have emerged to bridge the gap. In 2017, $78 million in funds were raised, an increase of 13% from the year before. As mobile banking has diversified, 54% of the country’s internet users have at least one mobile banking app.

According to Singapore Fintech News, one-third of all fintech companies registered in 2018 were payment platforms, followed by alternative finance at 30%, and blockchain companies at 16%.

4. Vietnam

In Vietnam, the total transaction value in the personal finance sector has crossed the $1 billion mark. Further, this value is projected to show an annual growth rate of 38.4% resulting in a projected total amount of $4.5 billion by 2024.

According to a report, between 2017 and 2020 the number of fintech startups grew more than 179%, with payment apps leading the sector, consisting 31% of the total startups.

Along with payments, peer-to-peer lending was another field which grew rapidly during this phase. The government is planning to get more than 70% of its people over 15 years of age to own a bank account within a year’s time. In 2017 and 2018, only 31% of adults owned a bank account, and only 4.1% of its people owned a credit card. In the phase between 2010 and 2020, a vast number of personal loan apps emerged, some of which have become huge.

Like the other countries in the region, Vietnam’s unbanked population are turning to fintech for its sheer ease of financial transactions. Around 50% of the country’s internet users use mobile banking platforms, 39% make mobile payments, and 9.3% own some form of cryptocurrency.

5. Thailand

82% of Thailand’s population is on the internet, and 74% of them bank online. 47% of all internet users make mobile payments, and 71% of them use their phones to purchase goods online each month.

Even though such a massive number of people are active online, Thailand is not a very friendly market for fintech compared to other countries in the region. The country attracts fewer investments for fintech, but that said, it’s still experiencing the fintech boom as 10% of its internet users own some form of cryptocurrency. This makes Thailand the second country after South Africa in the world for crypto ownership.

Key Takeaways from Southeast Asia’s Fintech Boom

  • The most disruptive fintech sectors are payments and lending.
  • Fintech has changed the way people and businesses make payments, save their money, borrow, invest, and buy insurance products.
  • Fintech has given access to finance for poor people and people in remote areas, boosting the economy and stimulating demand. Fintech has made it easier for SMEs to get small loans and credits anytime to keep their business running.
  • Many economies have implemented regulatory sandboxes to motivate innovation in the fintech sector.

Lily Tran is a content writer, working for MoneyTap, who writes about all things finance. Her passion for credit, debt, loan and investment drives her to help readers get an insight about everyday finance.


Photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash

Rutger Responds: Key Take-aways from FinovateWest Digital

Rutger Responds: Key Take-aways from FinovateWest Digital

The following is a guest blog post by Rutger van Faassen, Head of Product & Market Strategy for FBX at Informa Financial Intelligence.

Like many of you, I am still getting used to the virtual conference format. We all miss the in-person networking and engagement with conference participants; however, the saved travel time is an excellent perk. With the platform open for two weeks, I was able to get a couple of additional sessions in that I would have most likely missed in the pre-Covid world. I did find it challenging to keep 100% focused on the conference as my day to day business would find its way into my field of attention. After watching all the demos and many of the other sessions, here are my overall observations and key take-aways from the conference…

As Greg Palmer kicked-off the conference and set the stage for the event in the current environment, he mentioned a couple of things that I thought were insightful as a jump-off point. First, banks can move quickly if they need to (especially in the case of PPP). Second, customers can be much more flexible (taking advice from Financial Institutions). Third, banks that invested in digital were in a better position to deal with pandemic.

Not surprising, many of the companies providing demos at Finovate had an angle that fit in well with the current pandemic environment where remote engagement and digital journeys are extremely important.

Facilitate digital transformation for those left behind

A premier example of this is Zeta, who provides an App Integrated banking platform facilitating the consumer’s digital journey. Two features jumped out to me from this platform. First is the option for point-of-purchase financing while in browser journey – so you can get a loan for a product you want to buy on Amazon as you are browsing on your mobile device. Second is the Family Hub – to manage family financials within the App with a 60-day implementation timeline makes it a perfect fit in the current environment.

Similarly, Dan Michaeli, CEO & Co-Founder from Glia showed us how to provide better digital customer service by identifying digital body language (a new term for me!). The two features he showed us, ‘Co-Browsing’ and ‘Video Chat in App’, are crucial features in this new abnormal time where circumstances push us to engage remotely through digital channels.

As our device time has increased dramatically, it is crucial that the experience is pleasant and helpful to keep us engaged with our financial institutions. Q2 showed us how to deliver Dynamic Personalization to make the content and offers provided as relevant and engaging as possible.

Productfy demonstrated its secure platform for any company to launch fintech applications, financial products, or services in as little as 3 weeks. Great news for financial institutions who find themselves hopelessly behind in their digital transformation in a time where a digital journey is essential.

With a strong shift to online shopping, GoPoints Loyalty Group provides a platform (currently operational in Russia) to help set up and manage reward’s programs. It is a turnkey solution with various integration options to help financial institutions that are behind in their digital transformation get up and running with a proven platform.

Finzly, one of the “Best in Show” winners, provides a customer engagement engine that helps financial institutions – through a drag and drop interface – to set up customer onboarding flows at “fintech speed”. Another solution to help financial institutions that find themselves struggling during the pandemic due to a lack of digital customer journeys.

Enhance engagement with SMBs leveraging online tools

Another key group that has been impacted during the pandemic is small businesses. Any solution to help financial institutions help this segment garnered lots of attention. Monit offers a platform that provides value for both bankers and small businesses with relevant and actionable contextual offers based on the data gathered from the small business cashflow projections. Anything that helps small businesses preserve their most valuable resource, time, is a good idea in my book.

Like Monit, the UpSwot is focused on changing the way banks serve SMBs by first, being the Mint for business and second, combining analytics from different Apps SMBs use on one screen. It then allows the platform to provide notifications and a forecast for future financial cash flows. Even if a lender is not comfortable providing a loan at this point (by analyzing the data), they will help the SMB understand when they could qualify.

Deal with downsides of our digital world

Solving a very different challenge caused by the pandemic, a lack of in person networking opportunities, Momentifi created continued education sessions that provide an opportunity to connect with industry participants.

The Finovate format using demonstrations does an excellent job at giving the audience a clear idea how the solution solves for a particular use case. Instnt not only showed how their solution uses AI for KYC analysis, they also will put their money where their mouth is and will indemnify the user for losses due to fraud. In these strange and uncertain times, that is a strong commitment to their solution.

Given all new data privacy regulations that have come online, and the increasing awareness of consumers of their right for their data to be removed, one thing that stood out to me in the Ninth Wave demo was their seamless process to address this through the instant creation of a Digital certificate to confirm that data has been removed.

Side effects of a digital revolution are more space for innovation and new solutions. IM and Chat Message has eclipsed emails and calls resulting in financial institutions needing a solution to capture, populate, encrypt, and archive historically inaccessible messaging data in real time. Nuri Otus, txtsmarter CEO & Founder demonstrated how his platform provides a solution for this digital journey challenge.

As we get more and more digital, the risk of data breaches increases exponentially. Breach Clarity, another “Best of Show” winner, showed how their solution helps customers of financial institutions deal with these breaches with a score that lets a customer know how meaningful the breach is and then what action to take.

Support existing digital journeys with additional tools

The constant challenge of security of information has been amplified as most communication now happens remote through digital channels. Arnexa provides one tap secure message delivery which removes the friction of having to take several steps to get a secure message. Reducing friction is certainly on everyone’s 2020 bingo-card! In the same vein, CoConet was showcasing how to turn SlowBoarding into QuickBoarding as most new clients get onboarded digitally.

DeepTarget also provides a digital experience platform that aims for better customer engagement and increased sales. It is leveraging practices from social media by providing real human stories to enhance customer engagement. The platform lets you treat people differently at scale.

A key part of the engagement in a digital world is how you communicate with customers through different channels. LinkLive Banking securely and seamlessly connects humans to their financial institutions through a full suite of communication services. Using different options like chatbots, the ability to transfer to the next available live agent and in-browser desktop sharing.

Tom Martin, CEO of Glance Networks, showed us how his platform helps deliver real human connections by allowing financial institution’s employees to join a customer within the App/Browser via video within the embedded securely of their own platform. With just one click, a video conference can be launched, and co-browsing can be established.

Financial health management

A theme that has come to the top of consumers priority list during the pandemic – in addition to their physical health – is their financial health. Planning for a financially healthy future is top of mind and having tools to provide consumers with insights certainly support this. Sheryl O’Connor, CEO of WealthConductor, showed us how their platform provides insight into future financials using a product agnostic approach (so not pushing any provider) with easy reports written at 8th grade level. The platform works both when planning for retirement as well as when entering retirement and will hopefully help to reduce the Bankruptcy rates which have recently doubled within retirees.

Facilitating easier shopping and payment journeys

In line with a key trend of making the payment and lending part of the sales cycle easier, Payever shared how its solution seamlessly integrates the process from shopping to payment and marketing to shipping.

VRAY offers an Omni-channel payment platform that provides simple and secure consumer experiences across different platforms. It lets consumers have subscriptions without giving out their credit card info… and the option to cancel any time. This shortens check out due to no need for client information (which makes them more comfortable) and reduces chargebacks.

Enhanced use of AI and ML

On day two of the conference, Deniz Kaya, Director of Product Management & Digital Channels at Fiserv, showed us how they are using conversational AI to power a Voice Assistant who still sounds a lot like a robot, but can understand complex questions and provide actionable insights and advice. During this pandemic where call center volumes are at record high, a voice assistant can reduce the pressure on the call center. Integration in a core platform will also give access to a wealth of data to help answer customer questions.

As the digital revolution is accelerating, financial institutions gather more and more data. DQLabs showed us a platform that manages data automatically using AI/ML to support a data strategy and improve customer experience. It helps profile and curate data and suggests ways to fix data errors like misspellings.

View into the future

One of the Keynotes by Strategic Futurist and TEDx Curator, Nancy Giordano, gave us an interesting perspective: that although we are going through lots of change, we are only one percent in. She discussed the four awakenings reshaping society and how we need to shift from Leadership to Leadering. One nugget of insight that made me smile (and which I am going to attempt) is the Harvard Business Review article about how telling an embarrassing story before doing a group brainstorm will result in a better outcome.

Conclusion

There were several other interesting panels and keynotes, but this is my quick summary of the conference. Overall, we had a great display of solutions that align very well with the challenges and opportunities we are facing during the pandemic. Lots of solutions for financial institutions who find themselves left behind in the digital acceleration and need help catching up. Additional tools for those who have already established a digital journey for their customers but want to enhance it and make life a little easier for everyone. Great news for Small Businesses, who have been hit the hardest during this pandemic, with support through new technology driven solutions. And how cool that technology can provide insights into our financial health and how to manage it! One way of doing that is using AI and ML to make all solutions better, faster, and more intuitive. In this new abnormal where we search for the best ways to adapt, I am pleased to conclude that doing Finovate virtually was a pleasant digital customer journey.


Rutger van Faassen brings more than two decades of experience in international retail lending to FBX and its clients. He has previously held roles at Nomis Solutions and ABN AMRO Bank.


Photo by Aditya Wardhana on Unsplash

Five Ways Financial Institutions Can Foster Innovation

Five Ways Financial Institutions Can Foster Innovation

The following is a guest post from RJ Sherman, VP of Innovation, Citizens Bank.


The word innovation is often thrown around casually to describe anything new that an organization is doing. However, for an organization to be truly innovative, it must adopt an “innovation mindset.”

Broadly, this means the organization needs to: take an empathetic approach to customer research to fully understand the customer’s needs; think longer term to identify potential disruptors that are further out on the horizon; and “test and learn, fast and cheap” by quickly exploring new ideas in a calculated manner to understand their value.

Innovation is more than simply creating new products or exploring emerging technologies. Innovation means acting on ideas that accelerate growth and challenge the status quo.

Here are five specific ways an organization can foster innovation:

Focus on the customer experience

Innovation starts with a deep and nuanced understanding of the customer journey and the associated pain points. Innovating for the sake of innovation doesn’t work – instead, use your customer’s pain points as a ‘North Star’ and design a compelling offering around them. Don’t be afraid to iterate in partnership with your customers (the solution is for them, after all). Despite the pandemic, there are still many ways to collaborate and co-create with customers, it just requires us to be more creative with how we conduct research.

Take a balanced approach to building the innovation portfolio

A balanced innovation portfolio is made up of opportunities from all areas of the business, including internal (organization-facing) and external (customer-facing) opportunities. This is critical as it signals to colleagues that all aspects of the business play a role in positioning the organization to win in the future. Continuously monitor your balance and partner with executive leaders across the organization to identify and explore strategically aligned opportunities (especially in underrepresented business areas).

Partner with fintechs when and where appropriate

While fintechs can pose a threat to financial incumbents, there is a significant opportunity for banks and traditional financial institutions to join forces to better serve the customer. Fintechs have a significant advantage when it comes to designing great customer experiences, but lack the customer relationships, scale, expertise, or risk management muscle needed to operate as broad-based financial services institutions. Fintechs can help power and accelerate a smart, data-enabled strategy, and offer a quick and relatively low-risk way to support business strategies.

Create the appropriate organizational mechanisms to explore early stage ideas

Citizens is investing in innovation using an Innovation Fund as part of its annual Tapping Our Potential (TOP) program. The fund operates like an internal venture capital firm, placing small-scale investments in colleague ideas. It is a great way to generate a grassroots movement around innovation and invest in the ideas of colleagues.

Encourage idea generation from everyone in the enterprise

When someone asks me “how big is the innovation team at Citizens?” I say 18,000 colleagues because every person at our organization has a role to play in innovation. Encouraging colleagues to participate in innovation begins at the top and, if done successfully, colleagues will buy-in and it will be embedded into everything you do. That way, when it comes to evaluating new opportunities or reimagining traditional business lines, innovation will always have a seat at the table.

To sum up, there isn’t a single “one size fits all” innovation model that will work for every financial institution to bring new ideas to life. Instead, leaders must create a bespoke solution for their organization, establishing mechanisms to leverage the cumulative power of their colleagues to identify and solve for the most pressing customer problems.


Photo by ThisIsEngineering from Pexels

What These 5 Stats and Trends Say About Where Fintech is Headed

What These 5 Stats and Trends Say About Where Fintech is Headed

The following is a guest post by Lisa Bigelow who writes for Bold.org.

Robo advisors. Touchless payments. Zelle. These are just a few ways that digitalization has transformed how people manage their money. Although consumers have experienced a few hiccups along the way — lame chatbots, we’re looking at you — fintech is making an enormous impact on how banks will serve their customers now and in the future.

Here are five futuristic fintech trends that reveal where banking is headed.

In five years, AI will dominate customer service

You’ve probably used your bank’s chatbot to accomplish a simple task like disputing a transaction, but have you considered asking it how much you spent at the grocery store last month? Some digital transformation experts estimate that 95% of customer service interactions will be powered by artificial intelligence by 2025.

Consumers expect AI-driven interactions to satisfy bigger customer service expectations, according to a Drift survey. Businesses that delay improvements in natural language processing or that rely on human responders will be at a disadvantage, with one IBM study showing a 99% improvement in response times when using AI. With 38% of baby boomers expecting a 24-hour response, that’s significant.

Yet chatbots are more than basic analytics delivered quickly. They can also offer suggestions on the best mortgage or investments for your finances. Even high net worth investors may be surprised to learn their financial managers rely on roboadvisors for complex algorithms that recommend investment strategies.

In China, digital payments — not cash — is king

Digital payments went mainstream in Asia long before COVID-weary consumers turned away from cash for health reasons. In China — where a mobile payments market worth $17 trillion flourishes — vendors often prefer cashless transactions, even for small purchases. And with 91% of Chinese tourists saying they would shop more overseas if mobile payments were an option, all economies — and their banking systems — will benefit by adopting fintech.

In addition, cash payments don’t always offer consumers more convenience or better pricing, especially with browser add-ons making finding deals easier. Peer-to-peer shopping platforms like eBay and Alibaba have given consumers more choices than ever before. And with players like Venmo and Zelle allowing instant cash transfers, it’s never been more convenient to shop.

Fintech is changing cross-border education

American colleges prize international students for reasons related to finances and diversity. International students value American college educations for their quality and name recognition. Before fintech, financing an international education and recording international tuition payments was time-consuming and difficult.

Fintech helps lower the barrier to entry to the U.S. education market. Take the University of Virginia, which adopted Flywire as a means of helping foreign students establish payment plans and transfer funds. And in China, Superyou and myMoney allow students to complete cross-border transactions with the touch of a mobile button.

What about those who can’t afford the sometimes $70-thousand-and-up annual price tag of American education? Enter Prodigy Finance, a U.K. lender that finances students based on their future earning potential. Think that can’t possibly work? Think again — Prodigy says its repayment rate is 99%.

Students, for their part, are eager to learn about fintech. At Georgetown, MIT, NYU and other top-tier institutions, courses related to financial innovation are filled, with fewer expressing career aspirations in once-hot areas like trading.

Tech startups are also playing a role in increasing accessibility to education with platforms like Bold.org creating and hosting exclusive scholarship opportunities for students.

India is adopting fintech quickly

You already know that China, the U.S., and the U.K. are fintech hotspots. But what about emerging markets with large, tech-savvy populations and unmet banking needs?

Enter India, widely regarded as the “next frontier” in fintech. According to a 2019 report on emerging technologies in banking, PWC ranked India second worldwide in fintech adoption, with a rate of 57.9%, driven by favorable government policies and funding from foreign venture capitalists.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

Traditional banks are eager to jump aboard the innovation train. Collaboration is at an all-time high, with staid players such as Lloyds, American Express and PNC partnering with hot innovators like Swave, GreenSky and OnDeck, respectively.

A 2017 PWC study found that 82% of banks, insurers and wealth managers surveyed plan to invest or collaborate with fintech firms over the next three-to-five years, with 88% fearing lost revenue should they not make the move to fintech. PWC says, “Businesses need to understand how this new world affects all of their touchpoints with the customer if they are to actively reinvent their own future and not be at the mercy of external events.”

In addition to improving operational efficiency and lowering costs, traditional banks believe that fintech will ultimately improve the customer experience for less money. And that means fintech will drive your financial decisions sooner than you ever thought possible.


Lisa Bigelow writes for Bold.org and is an award-winning freelance content creator who helps people learn more about personal finance, real estate and information security. Bigelow has contributed to Finance Buzz, Life and Money by Citi, MagnifyMoney, Well + Good, Smarter With Gartner, Popular Science and Cadre Insights.


Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

3 Benefits and Drawbacks of Voice Tech for Banks

3 Benefits and Drawbacks of Voice Tech for Banks

This is a guest post written by Shannon Flynn, managing editor at ReHack.com.

Voice recognition technology is experiencing something of a golden age right now. You can control virtually anything with your voice now, from your lights to your TV to your phone. As these technologies keep improving, their applications in banking grow more promising.

Voice tech encompasses a range of technologies that involve recognizing and responding to users’ voices. The potential for these services in the financial industry is immense. You could use your voice to log into your bank, make withdrawals or ask for financial advice.

The advantages of voice tech for banks are impressive, but there are still some roadblocks ahead. Here’s a closer look at three benefits and three drawbacks of the technology.

Benefits

Roughly 111.8 million Americans use voice assistants at least monthly. That’s more than a third of all internet users in the country. The American public is already comfortable with these technologies, so bringing them to banking is a natural next step.

Banks shouldn’t adopt voice tech just because people would use it. Thankfully, the technology has benefits beyond high adoption rates. Here are three of the most significant.

1. Streamlined Banking

Think of how easy voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant make routine tasks. You can check the weather, read your messages and hear the news without lifting a finger. Banks can bring those same benefits to their user experience by integrating voice technology into their apps.

Users could make a deposit or withdrawal by merely asking their phones to do so. Mobile banking allows people to perform routine actions in less than three minutes on average. Voice tech could shorten that to a few seconds since users wouldn’t have to press any buttons.

2. Increased Accessibility

Mobile apps made banking more accessible than ever, but the industry can still improve. You still need to have full function of your fingers to work these apps, which can be a barrier to some users. Voice controls can allow more people to experience the convenience of banking apps.

VOIP will also gain some next-gen improvements in the next few years due to 5G. For instance, more banks may achieve faster, unified communication with the help of voice-to-text functionality and faster networks. With the VoIP market gaining $35 billion by 2025, we will most likely see additional innovation for these communication systems.

Voice tech gives users more options, which makes banking services more appealing to consumers and businesses alike.

3. Biometric Security

Voice commands aren’t the only application of voice tech in banking. Banks could also use this technology to as another layer of biometric security. Since voice assistants can differentiate between voices, they can use your voice to verify your identity.

Unlike with passwords and PINs, you can’t steal biometrics. This security advantage is why fingerprints and facial recognition have surpassed passwords, and voice recognition adds another layer of security. With all of these options, banks could offer biometric multi-factor authentication.  

Drawbacks

Despite these advantages, there are still some downsides to voice tech in banking. As much as these technologies have improved, they’re still relatively new and far from perfect. As such, there are a few risks that come with their adoption.

These disadvantages will likely fade as voice technologies improve. At the moment, though, they may dissuade some users from using voice services, making them less profitable for banks. Here are three of the most prominent of these drawbacks.

1. Privacy Concerns

Voice technology may increase security, but it also raises questions about privacy among some users. According to a Microsoft report, 41% of voice users are concerned about issues like passive listening. People may not use banks’ voice tech out of fear that someone may be listening.

Even if users don’t interact with voice recognition features, they may turn away because of them. People may worry that banking apps always listen to them, even while they’re not using voice features. If banks can’t assure people that their privacy is safe, these features could repel users.

2. Faulty Voice Recognition

There are still some lingering concerns about how accurate voice recognition technologies are. A 2017 study found it takes just two years for your voice to change enough that these systems won’t recognize it. Recognition errors could lock people out of their bank accounts, causing unneeded complications.

In fact, foreign language barriers don’t just exist between humans. When you’re dealing with finances, any translations errors could be costly. If your system misunderstands your voice commands, it could make unwanted transfers or deposits. Voice recognition has to be almost perfect for banks to use it extensively.

3. Regulatory Complications

Any financial institution has to comply with strict regulations, and voice tech could be an issue here. Right now, there aren’t any standards for how banks can or should use this technology. The legal ambiguity could cause banks to run into some complications while using these services.

Finding out how voice tech fits into existing regulations could be a headache. Working through these gray areas could be more trouble than it’s worth to many institutions.

Voice Tech Is Promising but Imperfect

The efficiency and security of voice technology is enticing for financial institutions. Still, many banks may avoid the technology right now due to its current drawbacks. More firms will embrace it as the technology improves, but that could take a few years.

Voice tech today is far from perfect, but it does have potential. With further advancement, it could revolutionize digital banking.

Shannon Flynn is a technology and culture writer with two plus years of experience writing about consumer trends and tech news.


Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky on Unsplash