The biggest changes to finance in the last ten years

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If you think back to 2009, the country and the financial world was reeling from the greatest economic crisis in a century. For the UK, the following decade was (and still is) a story of careful recovery. Ultimately, banking and finance had to be better – for customers, for society and for the economy.

But since then, mindsets and technology have played a decisive role in quickly evolving the industry. Today, we have many more terms to add to our vocabulary. Fintechs, contactless payments, open banking, cryptocurrencies, algorithmic trading. We’ve seen many changes over the past ten years, but here are some of the most impactful.

Automation

The growth of data and technology to improve efficiency and handle bigger and bigger transactions has to be one of the industry’s biggest drivers of change. From computerisation in the last century, it was in the 2010s when data-driven automation really took off. Automation has become the indispensable sidekick to the financier, whether for algorithmic trading or risk assessments.

The big banks were pushing for this level of automation at least a decade ago, if not earlier. The difference to today is volume. Deutsche Bank had an electronic trading arm for FICC and FX, headed by Zar Amrolia, as far back as 2012. Today, he runs a fintech company, a fraction of the size in headcount, that handles billions of dollars’ worth of trades every day, using data-driven automation. It pays to keep your eye on long-term technological change.

For all businesses, automation has made their finances simple and accurate. In fact, McKinsey found in 2018 that 42% of all finance operations could be automated, and a further 19% partially automated.

Mobile

The launch of the iPhone in 2007 was the harbinger for change in how we manage our money. As smartphones improved, they quickly went from phone-and-browser to something we just couldn’t live without.

Now there are banks that live only on our phones, like Starling, Monzo and Revolut, and the big banks have had to pay attention to keep up. This kind of innovation comes from the maxim that improving the lives of customers will improve your bottom line. It was the reason for the birth and for the success of US mobile payments app, Venmo. Co-founder Iqram Magdon-Ismail said in 2016 “Sometimes building something that directly improves your life is a great way to invent something that improves the lives of others.”

Today we can keep our digital credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards and membership cards in one wallet app. Handy NFC integration, Apple Pay and Google Pay have made contactless payments a breeze, and apps like Venmo have made repaying friends after dinner a lot less awkward.

Open Banking

A recent happening, but a big one – open banking is revolutionary. It helps people understand and manage their finances and helps financial providers make better products and build stronger relationships. But what is it?

As of 2018, all UK banks must share their customers’ information with other financial providers if the customer gives consent. The Open Banking mechanism makes this secure so data is protected.

For customers, it means a single view of all financial information in one place, no matter how many accounts and policies they have with different banks, pension or insurance providers. And by sharing this information securely with businesses it also makes it easier to send payments directly from bank accounts. Research predicts that in Europe, online banking payments will overtake both credit and debit cards in popularity by 2022.

Open banking marks the beginning of a transformation from banks to financial platforms. Instead of a simple transactional relationship, the opportunity for providers lies in looking outside their own ecosystems. Ultimately, they become the customer’s trusted curator of personalised products and services, educating them on financial health and wellbeing.

If you painted a vision of today’s financial landscape and showed it to someone in 2009, they would think you a ridiculous dreamer. The proliferation of data-led products and services and automated operations is astounding. And if we look at how far we have come, just think where we will be in another ten years.