The media spends so much time covering how fintech services will change our lives that it’s easy to forget how it already has changed our lives. While emerging technologies haven’t completely replaced cash or traditional financial institutions, the convenience they offer has certainly impacted numerous daily activities in ways that are easily overlooked.
The following are just a few areas that have been impacted by access to new financial technologies.
Traveling long distances inherently involves numerous financial transactions. However you’re getting to your destination, you have to pay. Once you’re there, you also need to pay for lodging. During your trip, you’ll conduct frequent transactions, some of which can be made complicated if you’re in a foreign country that doesn’t use your currency or doesn’t accept your credit card.
Fintech has changed the nature of this experience. Several fintech products and services now accept foreign credit cards. Apps like Venmo and others that facilitate transactions have made it easy for travelers to visit new destinations without carrying a substantial amount of cash. Related apps (that may or may not be strictly fintech products, depending on your definition) have also given vacationers the opportunity to take more impromptu trips; they can book a last-minute plane ticket, find a room on an app like Airbnb, and arrange all other necessary details through their smartphones.
Perhaps more importantly, fintech has once again assisted underbanked and unbanked populations who don’t have access to traditional financial services. More and more airlines and travel companies have begun to accept payment from services like PayPal, giving underbanked people the chance to travel easily.
Fintech doesn’t just make traveling more convenient. It allows people who otherwise wouldn’t be able travel to see the world.
Many people with small business ideas are reluctant to pursue them for a very basic but understandable reason: they don’t have experience with the small but essential details, like establishing a system for receiving payments or setting up a budget.
Luckily, fintech products have made these processes much easier. Would-be entrepreneurs who might otherwise be discouraged from starting their businesses can accept payments through products like Square, create a budget using Mint.com or a similar service, and order all necessary materials directly from their phones.
Some might use this newfound convenience to create a full-time business, while others might simply use it to sell products as a way to supplement their income. Either way, fintech has made it easier than ever to start working on a business idea the moment you think of it.
Fintech arguably may have had the most impact on day-to-day activities we now take for granted, such as spending money on the go.
Perhaps you live in a major city. On a weekend day, you might buy groceries, shop for non-essential items, and go out to dinner with friends or family.
Prior to the emergence of certain key fintech products, that type of day would have looked very different from the way it looks now. If you used a taxi to get from Point A to Point B, the cab company might have charged an extra fee for paying with a credit card. Now useful and convenient card readers have made this practice less common. On top of that, instead of hailing a cab, you can now arrange for one via your phone.
If you want to check your account balance before purchasing groceries, you can use your phone for that too. You could even use it to create a budget for the day. If you fall behind schedule, you can browse non-essential items and purchase them online instead of going to a store.
In the pre-fintech days, getting dinner with friends would usually involve some degree of awkward difficulty when it comes time to split the check. Now, one person can pay, while all others can send that person their portion of the bill through Venmo.
These may seem like trivial changes to highlight, but they aren’t when you consider the potential long-term results they could lead to. Thanks to fintech, people can save money more efficiently while spending a night out in a major city. In a single day, the savings might not amount to much, but over time, they’ll substantially impact a person’s financial situation.
It’s no secret that fintech is going to have a major impact on many lives. That said, it’s important to remember that it already has.