It’s no secret that the traditional financial services industry is getting increasingly outdated by the minute. Today’s generation craves convenience and simplicity in all they do. And, that includes their financial interactions. This is why fintech has successfully gained momentum and disrupted the financial services scene since its emergence. Startups who embrace innovative fintech are able to provide consumers with an unrivaled degree of convenience and ease, yet to be matched by traditional providers. Here are some of the latest fintech trends to watch out for in 2018: #1. Blockchain Technology Despite being introduced only a decade ago, blockchain technology has already made a great impact on fintech. Blockchain technology creates digital ledgers that record a group of transactions in real-time “blocks”, connected to each other using digital keys. This innovative process makes it useful for a variety of applications in fintech, such as increasing the efficiency of international wire transfers or running cryptocurrency transactions. The latter being another popular fintech trend itself. Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies, like Bitcoin, that use blockchain technology to operate in a decentralized network format. This format gives users the ability to verify and secure transactions between one another, meaning the information in each “block” is verified through multiple sources, encrypted and transparent to everyone. According to Statista, the size of the Bitcoin blockchain has been continuously growing since 2010. Size of the Bitcoin blockchain from 2010 to 2017, by quarter (in megabytes) But of course, along with the recent popularity of cryptocurrencies comes inevitable government regulation. Many central banks have begun issuing warnings and special rules surrounding the use of cryptocurrencies in order to protect consumers from exploitation. We can just hope that these regulations don’t play a hand in slowing down innovation in the field, as well. #2. Biometric Security Advances With the recent increase in mobile payments and card-not-present transactions, comes an increasing need for added security. If you’re going to be paying using a mobile wallet, QR code, or online transaction, you want to feel that your personal information is safe and secure. And, with cyber attacks in 2017 occurring at double the rate of 2016, it’s no wonder there’s a high demand for more payment security. This is where biometric technology comes in. Using biometrics, fintech companies are adding an extra layer of security over existing protocols. And, preventing you from having to remember any complicated passwords because biometric security includes advanced technology like facial recognition, iris detection and fingerprint recognition for account access. For example, SkyBiometry, a biometric technology provider, offers cloud-based facial detection and recognition software as a service (SaaS) to any company that requires this technology in their product. Their algorithm is able to detect multiple faces at varying angles, with or without glasses, and using any expression for the highest possible level of accuracy. This type of technology allows consumers to feel their information is safe while participating in the fintech revolution. #3. Online Investment Tools and Robo-Advisors Powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, online investment tools are bringing the once complex investment tactics reserved solely for those who could afford financial advisors, into the hands of the masses via robo-advisors and interactive online investment platforms. Many people would love to invest their money, but either don’t have the financial means to hire appropriate advisors or are not sure where to begin. This is where high-tech investment tools bridge the gap. Robo-advisors are able to set up personalized portfolios and offer wealth management advice based on mathematical rules and algorithms in a matter of minutes. Competing with the speed, efficiency, and convenience of robo-advisors will prove increasingly difficult for financial advisors. However, more conservative investors may hesitate to take their financial advice from a robot, rather than a human being. One online investment tool that provides a nice balance between the two is Swanest. Swanest’s platform empowers self-directed investors with technology that helps them build and manage personalized investment strategies. This way, investors gain access to intelligent insights along the way as they build their own portfolios, rather than completely handing the reigns over to a computer. #4. Bank & Fintech Collaboration If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. … at least that’s how banks are beginning to view the fintech revolution. Originally, fintech was perceived as direct competition for traditional financial entities like banks. A recent survey by PwC even found that 83% of participants from traditional financial services firms and 95% of participants from banks feared that parts of their businesses could be lost to niche fintech companies. As a bank, you have a few options: Develop your own competing services–which can be costly and time-consuming Buy out fintech companies that compete with you–which can be extremely risky, or, Partner with fintech companies to “borrow” their services In recent years, fintech companies and banks have come to the realization that collaboration, not competition, is the wiser choice. This way, both models can combine their strengths, such as the stability of traditional banking and the agility of fintech, to provide consumers with even better services. Banks who utilize fintech tend to see higher client retention rates and increased revenue because their services become more convenient and customer-centric. While fintech companies enjoy the added legitimacy that comes from partnering with a well-established financial entity. JP Morgan Chase’s recent deal with Digital Asset Holdings is one example of a successful bank-fintech company partnership. Digital Asset Holdings has teamed up with JP Morgan Chase to provide them with a trial of their blockchain technology in an effort to make their trading process more cost-effective and efficient. In addition, they will attempt to use blockchain technology to take care of the liquidity mismatch issues they have with loan funds. As they currently stand, loan funds are meant to provide investors with quick and easy access to money. However, the underlying assets needed to be sold take much longer than anticipated because they pass through multiple parties in complex manual processes. Thanks to Digital Asset Holdings’ blockchain technology, they’ll be able to reduce the time it takes to sell a loan, make the process easier overall and significantly reduce the number of errors. With the influx of innovative technology sweeping over the fintech industry, we can anticipate a completely different financial landscape in the future. The reality of trading digital currencies, using our iris to make a payment and trading stocks with the help of robots is becoming increasingly relevant. And, we can’t wait to see where else these technologies will take us. What fintech trend are you most excited to see unfold?