Four FinTech trends to look out for in 2017


Could 2017 be any more turbulent than 2016? Some would argue that because of last year’s unprecedented surprises, fluctuating markets and politics and real-world events, this year couldn’t possibly offer any more shocks.

In the midst of all of this, the technology world continues unabated, with the FinTech sector holding some exciting new developments for the year ahead. Here are four themes within the FinTech sector to keep an eye on in 2017:

A Future to Embrace

For too long, consumers have had to bear the "Your call is very important to us, please continue to hold" banality, but 2017 could be the year where this unintelligent automation disappears. The advances in artificial intelligence have caused a small explosion of sorts in the FinTech sector, but this small bang could expand with the mainstream introduction of chatbots and smartbots, with human help only required for the really tricky questions.

As consumers become more digitally savvy and open their minds to a smarter technological future, so too does their confidence in these intelligent robots. In 2016, UK banks have begun to adopt AI to speed up processes with organizations such as RBS implementing smart robots online to help customer interactions.

As consumers’ relationship with money evolves, and their trust in spying chatbots is for the most part long gone, we will see them wanting more interaction with technology. Cheques and phonecalls to your bank will soon become a thing of the past as banking moves into the next digital phase.

Machine Learning Will Make Us More Secure

2016 was certainly a year of security lapses and banking fines: Tesco Bank endured a huge security breach a few months ago and many financial service players who didn’t play by the rules found themselves on the end of multi-million and multi-billion dollar consequences. Criminal sanctions for senior executives in countries all across the world were prevalent.

With plenty at stake, compliance is one of the biggest growth markets within financial services. With so much data needing to be monitored and crunched, machine-learning technology is being increasingly applied to seek out and analyze risks to help keep us safer in the increasingly digitalized world.

The Proliferation of Low-Cost Mobile Payments

Mobiles are more than just our phone. They’ve become our SatNav, fitness instructor and fitness instructor. They are our passport to myriad destinations, opening our eyes to countless possibilities and we are therefore becoming increasingly dependent on them. They have also become our personal banks; payment on mobiles is quickly becoming the normal, so we would fully expect the numbers to climb further in 2017.

While smartphone sales have somewhat plateaued, it is the growth of technology adoption in developing and emerging nations that has been in the spotlight. Following on from popular millennial-focused payment apps such as Venmo in the US, sending money mobile-to-mobile around the world -- instantly and at low cost -- will be a key feature in 2017.

Global Uncertainty

The events in the US and Europe in 2016 have been discussed in great detail, but their importance cannot be understated. What’s unique is that with these new political and economic uncertainties it’s very hard to predict the consequences this year and even further down the line. With Donald Trump soon to assume presidency, there is a genuine concern that we’re witnessing an era of free trade and globalization being replaced by isolationism.

The French and German elections, the most pertinent in recent years, will be able to give us a clearer insight after their outcomes have been reached. Closer to home, the main concern is how a poorly-handled Brexit will negatively impact the UK technology and FinTech sectors, with talent and capital relocating elsewhere and London falling behind as a place to attract talent and locate your business.

There is a certain element of sailing into the unknown in 2017. Players in the FinTech sector are going to need to be vigilant and adapt to new circumstances so that businesses are able to be au courant in an increasingly digital landscape. Those that don’t will fall behind and be left floundering.

Michael Kent, CEO and Founder, Azimo.

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