Fintech is a fast-moving environment in which start-ups and stock market giants are competing and collaborating to change the way we handle money. In this article, we look at five ways in which this sector is expected to develop in 2018…

Insuretech

If you’d been at a fintech conference in 2017 you’ll have no doubt noticed the prominence of insuretech. There’s a big buzz around the ways in which technology can improve and enhance the provision of insurance policies.

As the principles are put into practice, expect providers to explore ways to truly offer geo-locational and on-demand insurance products, greater deployment of telematics for car insurance as well as an improved risk modelling process to move towards greater personalisation.

Blockchain

If cryptocurrencies were the story of 2017, the story of 2018 could we be the technology that underpins them. While blockchain might have been around for a while, we’re finally starting to see practical ways in which this can be used.

From a fintech perspective, the ability to create secure digital ledgers of transactions, recorded and updated in real time is likely to have a significant impact on the way international wire transfers and other similar transactions are handled. It will be, as Media Labs notes, easier for banks to be able to confirm where money is coming from and where it’s going – making the process swifter and, in theory, safer too.

South Africa

Global growth in fintech has been huge in recent years, but there’s still scope for more. The potential for further expansion is particularly evident in South Africa. EY’s Fintech Adoption Index says services are likely to increase by 71% in South Africa in the coming years, well above the global growth rate of 52%. In fact, only India and China are set to have higher adoption rates and both countries already lead the way when it comes to fintech use.

The potential rests on the existence of a strong network of fintech firms as well as the fact that South Africans have shown a strong appetite to embrace this change. The country, too, will be looking to emerge from economic difficulties under the leadership of new president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mobile trading

Mobile browsing has long overtaken desktop, with the rise of smartphones dominating the way users interact with content online. Gradually, shopping and banking are becoming more and more commonplace – with telephone and high street banking vastly reducing – and as people become more comfortable with completing financial transactions on-the-go it paves the way for further growth in mobile trading.

Mobile devices are particular good for short term decisions, day trading in forex for example, which allow the user to invest wherever they are whenever is best for them. Faster, safer and more reliable mobile networks and more powerful devices only serve to facilitate this further in 2018.

Facial recognition

Writing out signatures or typing in PINs seem out of step with security measures for the digitally-savvy age. Fintech companies have been looking at ways to increase the use of biometrics and, increasingly, facial recognition to help provide a newer and safer level of security when accessing accounts or carrying out transactions.

Thanks to the arrival of the Apple iPhone X at the end of last year and the Samsung Galaxy S9 at the start of 2018, facial recognition could finally be about to have its moment. Already in America, USAA lets members ‘sign in with a selfie’ and Chase says it supports Face ID with the iPhone X. Expect more to follow suit.

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