Technology disruptions are arguably the most prominent in the banking and finance sector. Technology has been transforming this industry for many years. It continues to have a huge impact on client experience, security, compliance, and more. In May of 2016 our CEO David Townsend wrote this blog, which looked into technology disruptions in finance and how they were transforming the industry. Below we look back at those disruptions and evaluate which have continued to gain traction and why, as well as those that have fallen to the wayside.

Banking and Lending

Virtual Credit Cards (VCC’s) – 2016

In 2016 we discussed the convenience of mobile accessibility and how users now expect to review and conduct transactions with mobile devices. Mobile usage was exploding and replacing desktop work, with many completing transactions from a mobile device. We determined that a shift in investment from desktop to mobile application capabilities were necessary. New VCC apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal were a good example of this shift, and were beginning to revolutionize mobile payment. We predicted that this would bring significant change. Companies who were flexible and adaptable would be the ones who thrived.

VCC’s – 2020

The usage of VCC’s is still on the rise, especially for businesses. In fact, about 25% of Fortune 100 companies now use VCC’s. This is undoubtedly due to how flexible they are. VCC’s can be turned on or off at any time and they limit the threat of employee misuse because of this. They are also more secure than a physical card because they cannot be lost or stolen, are only traceable by a virtual number, and can expire after one use. Usage continues to be prominent in online transactions but a growing number of physical storefronts now accept them as well.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain – 2016

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were making waves in the financial industry and spurring technological development. We predicted that one of the biggest changes on the horizon for the industry was blockchain, which was developed to provide independent transaction verification for bitcoin users, but continued to gain traction as a way for traditional financial institutions to speak directly through a secure, self-managing ledger. This eliminated middle-men, reduced costs, and increased the speed and security of transactions.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain – 2020

Cryptocurrency has continued to grow and become more mainstream. It is no longer only available to tech-insiders but offers investment opportunities to the public.

Blockchain has proven to be a huge technology disruption in finance and has seen continued growth. Blockchain has continued to develop new platforms and has moved beyond finance to industries such as technology, media, and healthcare. That being said, finance is still seeing the most disruption, with government becoming involved in order to provide regulatory clarity. But there is no doubt that the faster execution of transactions and improved transparency that blockchain offers will ensure its continued growth.

Financial Planning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Financial Technology (FinTech) – 2016

In 2016 AI was well underway, making significant improvements in finance and beginning to impact traditional financial planners. We saw millennials leaning toward automated, non-personal planning for simplicity and convenience. We predicted that companies who were able to leverage FinTech (financial technology) tools to aggregate financial information across all accounts as well as leveraging AI tools would be the most successful in the long run.

AI and FinTech 2020

AI is a technology disruption in finance that is still moving and working behind the scenes. It is used to detect fraud, automate tasks, and for analyzing individual user’s account data.  AI can streamline processes like quantitative trading and financial risk management as well as credit decision making. The majority of millennials still prefer automated financial planning services for the sake of convenience. Chatbots continue to be an effective AI tool used to generate personal financial advice.

On the other hand, FinTech investments have dropped because consumers have not seen the ROI that was expected. This may be due to people’s inability to trust FinTech to protect data and be transparent while also doubting the quality of service. Because of this, there haven’t been many big players that have come out of the FinTech mix. FinTech companies need to provide more transparency if they expect people to trust them with their bank accounts.

Your IT Budget

While IT budgets in 2016 were actually decreasing, they’ve been steadily rising since. Financial institutions have begun to realize the competitive advantages that great technology provides. Investing in AI, data security, and data analytics tools while reaching Stage 4 of IT maturity will place companies in a very desirable position.

Since COVID-19 came into play, this Gartner article predicts IT spending will decline by 8% in 2020. Many companies are seeing a reduction in profit and have reduced their number of employees. Priorities have shifted to focus on keeping the business afloat through this volatile time. IT budget investment priorities are now focused on optimizing remote work. Gartner predicts that public cloud service investments will grow, as well as cloud-based telephony and messaging and cloud-based conferencing.

Security

In 2016 data security was perhaps one of the most important aspects of financial services’ IT capabilities. 2020 has seen this risk grow even more. The financial industry is under threat of cyber security breaches now more so than ever since COVID-19 has shifted employees to remote work.  Cybersecurity is still a huge part of the IT budget and that will most likely not change anytime soon. Hackers are seeing more and more opportunities for malicious activity as financial companies must rethink their supply chains and offer more digital experiences. New threats include the acceleration of credential and identity theft and emerging technology such as deepfakes and 5G technology.

Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory Compliance continues to be an issue in 2020 just as it was in 2016. A growing number of financial regulations are causing confusion and challenges. We predicted in 2016 that companies would soon be able to rely on technology to manage compliance requirements. The good news is that this prediction has come to fruition with the rise of Regulatory Technology, or RegTech. RegTech offers technologically advanced solutions to regulatory reporting, compliance, and transaction monitoring. This technology is predicted to continue growing as the regulatory landscape changes over time.

Moving Forward

Technology disruptions in finance and banking will continue, and COVID-19 has added many challenges. As in 2016, the key to success still largely depends on the ability to keep up with the changing landscape and to remain competitive. While it may make sense to change some budgeting priorities based on COVID, your budget should continue to allow your technology to support your business goals, and ultimately play a major role in growing your organization. The need for strategic IT is more important than ever before given these difficult times. Continue to analyze its effectiveness and adjust your approach as needed.