by Philip Kushmaro

Fintech and credit cards: where are we heading?

Feb 07, 2018
Financial Services IndustryTechnology Industry

Digital tools are expected in all fields, and certainly in banking and financial services.

FinTech - Mobile Banking - Unified Endpoint Management U[EM]
Credit: Thinkstock

With more screen-time than any other generation in history, millennials have become almost totally tech dependent. When it comes to finances, digital tools are a top priority for this forward-thinking generation. Gone are the days when everything had to be physically accomplished at a bank branch; millennials now use mobile banking nearly three times as much than other generations, seeing the value in convenience. With more and more tasks being performed on mobile devices year after year, digital tools are clearly the future – top tech is not just wanted but expected in all fields.

Credit card options

There are now literally hundreds of unique credit cards being offered to Americans, each with benefits package marketed to a specific sub-segment of the population. 83 percent of people age 25 to 34 now use credit cards, half of whom report having more than three.

The trend in the credit card industry is a direct result of a young generation of adults demanding products tailor made for them as individuals. The best credit cards on the market offer amazing perks, including massive rewards packages, travel benefits, and insurance for your new iPhone X.

But the banks don’t stop there – even if you don’t have the best credit, you can still get some incredible benefits from your credit card. Cards available to people with building their credit scores can also offer cash back programs, high credit limits and even personalized images on the physical card for the vain among us.

Of course, this might be why America just set a new record for credit card debt.

Still, in the truest American fashion, the credit card industry will continue to forge ahead with an ever-widening array of credit cards with seductive benefits for people of all credit scores.

The future of banking

Customers are increasingly opting to use online banking services for the majority of their needs. As such, banks need to constantly adapt and expand their digital footprint to keep up with the needs of the millennial generation. With 46 percent of customers skipping trips to the bank and opting for online options, demand is now focused on convenience, efficiency and of course, security.

Online banks are now becoming a “thing.” These banks lack a physical location altogether, which lowers their overhead costs and makes it easier to compete for customers. They provide all of their services online – and online only.

It really seems that this is the future of banking – but, the problem is that these banks lack the physical, in-person interactions that older generation are used to. Banks are now looking to meet the two ideas half-way, by providing digitally optimized branches. These branches would allow customers to use their devices (phones or tablets), to check in and so much more; employees themselves – tablets in hand – could research individual profiles and provide on-the-spot assistance for small inquiries.

For more complex requests that require specialists (e.g. loans and mortgages) – employees will be able to send the specialist a notification, giving them the opportunity to receive the customers information before they are approached. The customer could also gain knowledge on waiting times or appointments via their device. When the specialist is available, introductory talks can be skipped, driving the focus straight to the customers’ needs and thus saving on time – big time. There’s even the option to “electronify” all bank signatures.

With the banking sector moving online, in-person branches will become a thing of the past. The few remainders will likely cater to the digital requirements of changing consumers, bringing high tech to all corners of the sector.

Multi-functional cards

It’s not just the banks that are reforming: so are the cards being used. Why carry around so many cards when one multi-functional card can replace them all?

The attraction of having a universal card is undeniable. There are now various cards and new tech on the market that does exactly that. One such credit card is the “Fuze Card,” allowing users to store up to 30 cards (including gift cards) on one card containing an EMV chip.

Another is the Dynamics Wallet Card from Visa and Dynamics. With a similar idea to the Fuze Card, all the information is packed onto a mobile phone chip, which is embedded in the card. The card itself has a digital display with a button – yes, a button, allowing users to easily switch between cards loaded onto the chip. The chip and an inbuilt antenna allows for push data and notifications, allowing banks to inform users on updates, info, coupons and so on – which is pretty nifty!

The idea of a universal card may seem invalid when all of this can be achieved on a similar “mobile wallet.” But, in an age of cybercriminals and with data breaches on the rise, privacy and security is a huge concern to users. A wallet card is deemed much safer than its competing mobile option and has the added attractiveness of instant re-issuance if needed.

A cardless society

Even with the digitalization of cards, it is possible we are heading towards a totally cashless and cardless society. The word ‘wallet’ might be a thing of the past, or a digitized representation of what we used to know in the physical world. New methods of payment and smartphone use is revolutionizing the way in which we handle money and our accounts.

Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay are only just the beginning. With tech giants launching mobile payment and banking apps left, right and center, users only really need a smart device to complete payments nowadays. It’s only a matter of time.

With a new way to pay, a new way to bank, cutting-edge tech and the more challenging security issues of the “convenience” generation, it might well be out with the old and in with the new. If millennials want tech, they will get it. And why not? If we have the means for it, isn’t it about time to revolutionize the way that we pay?