Thanks to new and evolving technologies, the world is at our fingertips like never before, and few spaces are as ripe for innovation as the burgeoning fintech industry. With tools that allow you to deposit paychecks, apply for loans, or send your niece a little cash for her birthday—all with a few swipes on your smartphone—financial technology is providing opportunities to traditionally underserved markets and helping connect people in new ways. Here are four barriers that tech is breaking down:
1. The Barrier to Freelancing
A recent study predicted that by 2020, 43 percent of Americans will be independent contractors. And though the rise of the gig economy has been a steady story for years, no proper infrastructure has been established to support many of the needs of these workers. Tech is helping to change all that.
Payment apps have already made the payment process easier, and there are still areas that provide opportunity for ambitious fintech companies to innovate. Startups that tailor insurance products for the specific needs of independent contractors are popping up, as well as fintech companies that help members of the gig economy sort out the paperwork and tax intricacies of being self-employed.
Other fintech breakthroughs have helped freelancers’ finances more closely resemble those of their peers with more traditional jobs. Budgeting apps can help freelancers account for the irregular cash flows that come with the territory, which may help put them on firmer financial footing as they navigate the world as their own bosses. (There are even fintech apps that will automatically smooth out freelancers’ cash flows, so it feels more like they’re receiving periodic “paychecks.”) These technological advances are poised to help more workers realize their flexible gig economy dreams.
2. The Barrier to Starting a Small Business
Opening your own small business is no easy feat, and securing funding can be one of the trickiest aspects of turning a business idea into a reality. Luckily, fintech is finding novel ways to help. A number of fintech startups are looking beyond the metrics that traditional lenders have used to approve small businesses for funding. An entrepreneur’s credit score may still play a part in loan decisions, but fintech-enabled lenders could evaluate data like online review averages that may be predictors of a new business’s ultimate success and make loan decisions accordingly. Thanks to fintech, new businesses that might not otherwise have gotten funding can get a chance to succeed.
3. The Barrier to Banking Access
As our lives have become increasingly digital, our banking needs have evolved, too. While longtime financial staples like writing checks and paying with cash aren't going anywhere, the digital ecosystem has created a need for customers to be able to access their funds and financial information from anywhere and at any time. Fintech developers have been up to the challenge. By creating applications that let users transfer funds, make mobile payments, deposit checks from their phone, and more, fintech innovators have put customers in the driver's seat with their financial data. As fintech keeps sharpening digital and mobile banking options like Citi’s mobile app, these users’ phones can feel like local branches that are always open and there any time they need it by offering instant access to their accounts, allowing them to lock lost credit cards, enabling them to pay their bills with a few keystrokes, and keeping them in the loop on any account activity.
4. The Barrier to Global Banking
The money transfer business has come a long way since Americans started wiring each other cash in the mid-19th century, but fintech companies are showing there is still room for improvement and innovation. There are still many corners of the globe where sending and receiving cash can be extremely difficult using traditional methods. That’s where fintech is stepping in. By creating affordable, reliable digital platforms for sending and receiving money, fintech is making it easier to send and receive money in far-flung locales. Whether you’re transferring money to a friend or family member who’s traveling abroad, enjoying a smooth transaction when making a purchase from an international merchant, or donating to a charity in another country, the process is far simpler than it once was. As fintech keeps improving, it may become even easier to ensure your money can go wherever you need it to be.
Fintech is already breaking down barriers, and Citi’s Open Banking APIs are prepared to offer developers and innovators a new suite of tools to keep building fintech’s momentum. Learn more at https://sandbox.developerhub.citi.com/