How apps and the tech industry are changing our relationship with finance

By Editor
Guest Post
  Published 31 Jul 2018
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{Guest post by John Stuart}

There are few industries that haven’t been affected by technology in the last decade or two. In some instances, these advances may make a process or service more streamlined or efficient, but in some cases, it can do nothing short of revolutionizing it. It’s safe to say the finance industry has been revolutionized.

To someone from 1998, the idea of being able to completely manage your finances from your phone would seem like science fiction – just like the smartphone itself would. Watches only told the time a few years ago, and now they can order you around at your local. What else has tech changed when it comes to finances, then? Let’s take a look.

Our concept of currency

Currency has always taken the form of pounds, dollars, yen; no matter what you call it, it’s physical money represented by one name or the other. Bitcoin, however, is a different kettle of fish that is harder to explain, so we’ll let do it for us:

“Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet.”

In dealing with digital transactions over high-speed networks, this simply could not have been possible fifteen or twenty years ago. Mike Caldwell created physical Bitcoins, but these are definitely not commonplace and very potentially illegal. America, for example, doesn’t allow the creation of new currency that competes with the dollar.

The removal of barriers

Don’t have enough cash on you? Left your card at home? Don’t worry, because there’s a good chance you can use your phone to buy anything you need – and you won’t even need to remember your PIN code, just rub your device up against the card machine! We’ve even grown immune to the three words that used to strike fear into any shopper on the high street - “out of stock”. With just a few clicks and taps, we can look online for a similar product and have it sent to your home within days – and maybe even for cheaper than you saw it in person.

This removal of barriers could be taken two ways.  The optimists will say it’s made shopping as accessible as possible, while the pessimists might argue it’s made buying things too easy and we’re spending unnecessary amounts on unnecessary things. It’s up to you to decide where you fall, but the appeal of using our watch to pay for a Tesco meal deal without having to pull our wallet out will never grow old.

Redefined small-scale business

While technology has opened up how you can buy things, it’s also blown open the doors on how you can sell things, too. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram mean anyone can start their own brand within a few minutes, whether they’re a t-shirt designer, shoe salesman or anything in between. With literally billions and billions of people using these platforms, a market and audience can be discovered and sold to in a way that hasn’t been possible since the last decade thanks to apps and services like eBay, Etsy, Debop and more.

Mail order has always been an option, but outside of physically finding a product and buying it there, there were next to no alternatives. Globalization, led by technology, means a woman can make a living making jewelry or sewing cushions for customers on the other side of a world while being in complete charge of the business; finance, production, shipping, etc. This simply wouldn’t have been possible on this scale a decade or two back.

Looking ahead

Researching and writing this article really did get us intrigued in what the future holds for money; from how we accrue it, to how we interact with it. We could be just one startup away from completely redefining how we perceive our personal finances, and that is what makes predicting the future so difficult – or exciting. You decide.

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