4 predictions about the future of finance

Finance is a key aspect of organisational success, and various technological developments are changing expectations and processes.
Industries: Finance
    1. The continuing development of touchless transactions
    2. The AI chatbot that automatically gets discounts
    3. Real-time financial information and self-service at the touch of a button
    4. A comprehensive AI-based financial assistant

The world of finance is developing rapidly, with technologies and systems beginning to automate and optimise many key financial processes for individuals and organisations. Although the potential benefits of this are numerous and significant, Ireland-based professional services firm Accenture found that only 14 per cent of organisations have the digital frameworks, processes, skills, and systems needed to thrive in this changing environment. In order to adapt, leaders must be aware of the technological developments taking place in finance.

Some 56 per cent of consumers use contactless payments when they can, with the most popular method being tapping a debit or credit card. Payment apps and mobile wallets are also popular common payment methods. About 57 per cent of customers don’t touch the terminal at all when making a contactless purchase.


  1. The continuing development of touchless transactions

Touchless transactions, such as contactless payments, have become much more popular in the last few years. Research by Visa revealed that 56 per cent of consumers use contactless payments when they can, with the most popular method being tapping a debit or credit card. Payment apps and mobile wallets are also popular common payment methods. Some 57 per cent of customers don’t touch the terminal at all when making a contactless purchase. In addition to contactless payments, more and more aspects of the customer journey are becoming touchless – products being purchased using apps, payments being carried out automatically with linked bank accounts, deliveries being left in locations for the buyer to pick up, and so on. Some companies have even opened checkout-free stores where customers’ bank accounts are automatically charged when they leave with their selected products. US-based digital payment software firm Cantaloupe has partnered with Indian company Vendekin Technologies, the producers of a ‘hardware-enabled SaaS product’ called Retrobox. With Retrobox integrated into Cantaloupe’s cashless payment terminal products, even vending machines and kiosks can become touchless. This feature will enable users to scan QR codes on machines to access a menu of products from their phones or from Cantaloupe’s card reader. Touchless transactions increase efficiency and can lead to significant time savings, for consumers as well as retailers. Retailers also benefit from the purchase data that is captured during these transactions, which provides improved options to offer their customers personalised services and recommendations.

New developments are likely to make touchless transactions even more popular in the coming years. South Korean electronics giant Samsung, for instance, has unveiled an ‘all-in-one fingerprint security integrated circuit (IC)’ called the S3B512C, which includes a biometric fingerprint sensor and a range of security features. The card uses a biometric authentication algorithm to detect fingerprints, before immediately capturing and encrypting this data on its chip. Users register their fingerprint with the card issuer so that it can be stored digitally on their card’s chip. Each time a transaction is made, the sensor matches their fingerprint to the one stored on their card. This entire process takes only seconds and requires no authentication code. The advantage of this is that the user’s biometric data doesn’t need to leave the card or be captured by any third party at any point. This – as well as built-in ‘anti-spoofing technology’ – offers clear security benefits and prevents scammers from using falsified fingerprints. Although initially, technological breakthroughs are often too expensive to become mainstream and widely available, the reduced complexity of the S3B512C (all functionalities are integrated onto the one chip) reduces manufacturing costs. According to Samsung, the card can be used for payments as well as other forms of secure authentication, such as ID cards and access cards. The potential for this kind of technology to improve security in a wide variety of processes and areas is significant.

  1. The AI chatbot that automatically gets discounts

Managing bills and subscriptions can be a time-consuming, difficult task, and this will only get worse now that more and more services adopt subscription-based models. However, technologies are being developed to streamline this task, and even to save consumers money. DoNotPay is a company that has developed what it describes as ‘the world’s first robot lawyer’, a subscription-based mobile app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide legal services like contesting parking tickets. The company is now launching an AI-powered chatbot that can negotiate bills, get discounts, and cancel subscriptions for users. CEO and founder Joshua Browder shared a video demonstration of the tool, in which the AI communicates with a customer service agent from US telecommunications giant Comcast. In the video, the chatbot describes issues with the services and threatens legal action, resulting in the agent agreeing to give the user a discount of $10 a month from their internet bill. The chatbot is advanced enough to replicate the nuances of human communication – and is likely to keep improving – and even thanks the agent for the discount. The potential uses for this technology are varied, and services such as these could be used to save customers time and money, and avoid the pitfalls and hassle of talking to customer service agents themselves. However, it remains to be seen how service providers may respond to the widespread adoption of this kind of technology – prices may simply be raised to factor in the growing number of customers automatically receiving discounts.  

  1. Real-time financial information and self-service at the touch of a button

With financial transactions happening faster and more frequently than ever before, increasing amounts of data are generated that can be analysed. Financial services providers are seeing growing demand from clients for more and more frequent performance data. Quarterly or monthly finance cycles are becoming outdated as technology enables data processing and analytics to happen almost instantly. While this may sound like it would increase the workload for finance organisations and analysts, it could in fact benefit them as well as their clients. These financial information processing tools not only automate processes but also improve their efficiency and the accuracy of predictions. Instead of periodic forecasts, data is now continuously captured and analysed with the use of advanced algorithms. 

Auditing and advisory services giant Deloitte has developed an ‘advanced forecasting solution’ called PrecisionView. The tool “leverages data aggregation technologies with predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities” to improve forecasting accuracy and “generate high-impact insights”. The cloud-based infrastructure can integrate with countless platforms and can be customised to suit individual clients’ needs. Advanced data processing capabilities enable near-real-time financial forecasting and scenario planning. If the technology continues to develop at its current pace, it may not be long before highly-accurate forecasting can be provided literally in real-time. 

This kind of automation may even reduce the need for organisations to use traditional financial services providers and finance analysts. Technological finance platforms could cut out the middleman in these processes, enabling users to access information quickly themselves, much in the way that online banking has improved access to information for individuals. Platforms could convert complex data into easy-to-use visual graphs and charts that can be understood by the layperson. While this may pose an existential threat to financial professionals, they may be able to adapt by offering more individualised services. The human component of financial advice, and the ability to obtain insights that algorithms focused solely on numerical data might miss, could become the focus of these organisations. Many organisations will likely have to change and diversify their business models as a result, and the boundaries between disciplines may break down.  

  1. A comprehensive AI-based financial assistant

Although we may one day see financial services organisations be replaced by robots, we aren’t quite there yet. For the foreseeable future, these technologies are likely to benefit these organisations and bridge the gap between them and their clients. US-based AI firm Openstream has developed Eva, a self-service ‘digital engagement solution’ for financial services providers that integrates with various back-end applications. The system uses continuous real-time intelligence to streamline operations, ensure compliance, and improve decision making around loans and credit. The Eva chatbot is the customer’s point of contact with the platform, and it is compatible with various apps, sites, devices, and communication channels. The platform is highly scalable to match business requirements and provides continuous analytics. 

Final thoughts

For organisations to carry out successful digital transformation of financial processes, they must be familiar with these developments. While it is impossible to predict the future of any discipline – and the finance sector is notoriously volatile – understanding the present can make predictions more accurate and increase the chances of adapting to changing circumstances. Researching and adopting new technologies is an important part of succeeding at this.

Industries: Finance
We’re in the midst of a technological revolution and the trends, technologies, and innovations to look out for are all game-changers. They bring competitive advantages, increase the effectiveness of operations, make our daily lives more efficient, improve healthcare, and significantly change the landscape and beyond.

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