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When it comes to technology, we take a lot of things for granted. Aside from sharing photos and ideas online every day, we're increasingly using web-based banking, payment, and investing apps and doing our shopping on our phones. In other words, we treat our money like data, passing it back and forth from cards to businesses and from accounts back to cards again, using a whole host of financial technologies along the way.
These connected financial technologies, or FinTech, are insanely convenient — and they're worth paying attention to. In a post-recession era when big banks have lost a lot of trust, the time is ripe for FinTech to take over how our money and our banking works, for good.
Sick of Big Banks
According to 10,000-person survey by consultants at Scratch, 73% of people in their 20s and 30s would be ready to jump on board today and start getting their financial services from tech companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon. In fact, 70% of respondents said they'd rather go to the dentist than deal with their physical banks.
Now that's some serious hate.
But given the publicity over big banks' participation in causing the financial crisis, it's little wonder that people are not trusting their banks. Add in our preference for convenience, cloud platforms, and across-the-board data usage, and it's no surprise that a change is on the way.
Finance is Following the Data
With all this talk of data, it's natural that Google should be at the forefront of the next major revolution in banking and finance.
As a company, Google is an absolute marvel. Google algorithms scour the internet's data for information whenever we want it, and with its video and image searches, satellite mapping, Google+ communities, stock tracking, shopping feature, and phone services, the company proudly defies being classified within a single industry. Its visionary approach to tech reaches farther every day, changing every industry it touches.
Much of the change is led by Google's investing branch, Google Ventures (GV), which takes money and invests it in tech-based startups around the world. The majority of its investments are in customer-facing technologies, including in FinTech startups that focus on lending and payment technologies, as well as finance security, authentication, and cryptocurrencies.
FinTech for Convenience and Security
When it comes to financial services, we all want convenience. This is why in addition to time-saving online banking and electronic bill payments, peer-to-peer lending has grown massively, allowing users to bypass clunky traditional banks with their typical time delays and wire-transfer costs.
In addition to convenient banking, we also desperately need data security. At this point, banks and data-based finance operations haven't been able to keep up with tech companies in terms of securing our data.
For proof, look no further than the massive hack of credit reporting agency Equifax, which compromised the personal records of 143 million people. Two Equifax CEOs resigned over their improper handling of users' data which led to the breach. Our data is out there, and we're more aware than ever of the need for data security.
Who Do We Trust?
Although so far no tech giant has been immune to the threat of hacking, we put our trust in Google above all others.
We turn to Google for fact-checking, scholarly research, shopping, travel tips — and any time we need information on an individual. The company has spawned a new verb, to google, and it has changed the way we work, live, and view ourselves personally and professionally. All this happened while we weren't even looking, and there's no taking it back.
Happily, there's an upside to this development, especially if you don't enjoy talking to or dealing with your bank. Analyst firm Forrester explains that while Google may not offer traditional banking accounts or loans in the future, it's perfectly prepared to deal with us, the people it knows so well. Soon, Google might be giving us financial advice, helping us with money management and product comparisons, and working as a middleman that ensures faster money transactions.
An even more exciting theory exists about how Google might change banking. The firm changed the information flow on the internet when it introduced its PageRank algorithm, which made Google search return the most relevant answers at the top. If a similar algorithm introduced in a scientific paper, called DebtRank, could be used to rank banks based on calculating their level of risk, it might create enough transparency to avoid banking disasters like the mortgage lending crisis. Banks would have an incentive to improve their services and processes to control their debt and raise their ranking. Banking would thus become be more transparent and more stable, and we could slowly begin to trust again.
While big banks are terrified that Google will overtake them and open its own bank, they're missing the point: Google is a disruptive tech giant precisely because it doesn't play by the rules. Rather than destroying traditional banks, Google is more likely to bring digital technologies to give us more transparent, connected, and better banking services.