What’s Next for the Fintech Sector in 2017?

David E. MickeyFinancial technology has historically moved slowly, but a number of new trends are breathing life into what many view as an uninteresting segment of the tech sector. Here are a few exciting fintech developments to watch out for in 2017.

A Credit Card for the 21st Century

Many data breaches have highlighted the fragility of our credit card system. While the slow expansion of chip-and-pin readers address some of its issues, there are many areas in which fintech can change the face of credit card transactions and processing.

One example of such innovation is Final, a credit card built for the 21st century. Final cards support creation of one-time or limited-use numbers, limits on charges, and other features that minimize the frustrations caused by data breaches or nefarious merchants. As credit cards become easier to obtain and use, financial technology must address the risks posed by a single set of credentials that give merchants access to a consumer’s finances. We are sure to see more companies like Final attempt to address this pain in 2017 and beyond.

Faster Processes

While technological innovation advances at an ever-increasing pace, much of fintech thrives on standards not updated in decades. This is understandable from the perspective of regulation and bureaucracy, but the sluggishness of financial processing propagates across many layers of business, causing delays that become increasingly difficult to justify.

Thankfully, large financial institutions are beginning to develop interfaces and services that speed up common interactions. American Express recently opened up some aspects of its platform to developers While these changes may seem small when taken individually, they will ultimately pave the way for a more open and programmatic way to move money between individuals and businesses.

Blockchains in the Back Office

Pioneered by the popular Bitcoin digital currency, blockchains are methods by which groups of users who do not trust each other can agree on an outcome. Blockchains can clear transactions, track ownership of assets, and record agreements in a way that does not depend on a single entity or server.

Though Bitcoin itself has many challenges that make adoption risky, the underlying blockchain technology has broader uses. Microsoft laid the foundations for its adoption with Blockchain as a Service, a platform that simplifies experimenting with and deploying blockchains for custom purposes. Instead of driving entire currencies, we’re beginning to see blockchain technology used to move and quantify assets between small groups of financial institutions. The full usefulness of blockchains has yet to be explored, but they are likely to play a crucial and growing role in the future of finance on both large and small scales.

Conclusion

The future of financial technology is defined by openness, speed, and greater consumer protection. As innovation becomes easier, we are likely to see more interest and excitement in an area of business that has to date been dull, uninteresting, and slow to evolve.