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Fintech that changed the game in 2016

Wed Jan 04 09:17:00 EST 2017

From self-driving cars to making payments by fingerprint, 2016 has been a busy year for technology in banking. As existing innovations evolved and exciting new concepts emerged, let’s take a look back at the tech that caught our eye and changed the way we did things this year.

Look who’s talking

Thanks to the likes of Siri and Ok Google, voice-recognition technology has been an innovation that the public is more than familiar with. This year, however, progression in voice-recognition technology, as well as the rise of the Internet of Things, has meant that speaking to devices is becoming more and more common. Big brands like Amazon and Apple have jumped on the trend with products like Amazon Echo and Apple HomeKit but, perhaps, more interestingly has been the introduction of money management through voice-controlled technology. Earlier this year, Amazon and Capital One announced that users would be able to access information, from the Amazon Echo, about their bank accounts and savings.

Amazon Echo

Tap, cash, and go

Towards the latter part of the year, Barclays rolled out a trial of the UK’s first contactless ATMs; marking the first-time customers have been able to tap a smartphone against a cash machine to make a withdrawal. Users simply touch their card or contactless mobile on the ATM’s reader before entering their PIN and withdrawing up to £100 in cash. Gone are the days of customers leaving their cards in ATMs, as this technology ushers in a new era of secure withdrawals. Beginning the trial in the North East of England, their success could see a wider roll out to 180 branches in the UK.

Contactless ATMS

Tap on, tap off travel

Loughborough’s commuters were this year subject to a trial of the UK’s first cloud-based contactless payment system. Instead of paying contactlessly for a one-journey ticket, Kinchbus travellers instead touched their contactless cards on the vehicle’s terminal to signal when they got on, and then again when they got off. By paying for the precise journey they’ve taken, commuters can enjoy more economical trips. While still in its pilot phase, the success of Kinchbus’ contactless payment bus trial will no doubt set the precedent for other modes of contactless travel.

cloud-based contactless payment system

In the loop

This year we waved hello to a new member of the bPay family, bPay loop. Launched in partnership with Garmin and Mondaine, the clever little bit of kit fits over most watch and jewellery straps to turn it into a contactless way to pay. Linked to the secure bPay digital wallet, the device can also be used to track spending as well as make purchases. This evolution and introduction of technology to the contactless arena will no doubt have been a contributing factor to the £9.27b spent contactlessly in 2016.

bPay loop

Up, up, and away

This summer, holidaymakers were treated to a taste of the touch-and-go life, with contactless making its way to the travel sector. First up was the introduction of contactless cards to the Southern, ThamesLink and Gatwick Express services for passengers travelling to the airport via rail. Then came the news that the United Arab Emirates were trialling a new method of departure, using contactless technology to help Emirati citizens glide through Dubai International’s immigration portal in as little as 20 seconds.

Contactless travel

Australia cashes out

At the start of the year we delved into the contactless goings-on down under, where in Kensington Street, Australia contactless was king and cash was nowhere to be seen. The popular shopping area in Sydney is run entirely on touch-and-go technology, with none of the cafes, exhibition spaces, restaurants, or shops able to spare any change. While contactless-only shops have yet to pop up in the mainstream here in the UK, with the success of initiatives like Kensington Street we can’t imagine it to take very long.

Hold the phone

Mobile payments really came into their stride in 2016, especially thanks to the introduction of Barclaycard’s Contactless Mobile. For Android owners, downloading the Barclaycard app and linking it to their preferred bank account is all it takes to then start making contactless mobile payments; and with some merchants, this can even be up to the value of £100. This innovation has no doubt contributed to the current forecast that mobile payments in the UK look set to reach over £1.2b a week by 2020.

Contactless Mobile Payment

Banking gets a virtual makeover

Virtual reality hasn’t just provided a lucrative opportunity for the gaming industry in 2016, but finance and banking companies have also begun dipping a toe in its waters. Goldman Sachs Group has estimated that virtual and augmented reality industry will be worth $80b by 2025, with innovations of the technology evolving into business and consumer apps. This means that virtual reality banking technology is well on its way for consumers, who perhaps can’t visit a physical bank, to receive financial advice and make transactions in a computer-generated setting.

Virtual Reality Banking

Social shopping

From paying with your fingerprint to making purchases through chatbots, 2016 has truly been the year that integrated payment technologies got creative. The introduction of Touch ID within the new Macbook Pro has given Apple Pay users the ability to authenticate purchases from right there in the keyboard. Facebook also made its mark with the technology this year, by introducing PayPal to its Messenger feature. This means customers can now complete their transactions via the social networking site. Integrated payment technologies have opened the door to seamless money managing, and if this year’s anything to go by, the innovations have only just begun.

Social Shopping - Apple Pay

It’s all Amazon Go, go, go

It’s a late entry into our 2016 top ten however; this innovation has truly earned its spot. In December, online retail goliath Amazon introduced the world to Amazon Go; a bricks-and-mortar store with no checkout. Customers enter the store with their Amazon Go app, take the products they want and simply walk out again, no queues, no exchanging coins and notes. The technology behind the innovation uses virtual carts to keep track of what items are picked up and down, and the user’s Amazon account is then charged once they’ve left the store. While the Seattle-based store is currently only open to Amazon employees, once the Beta testing is over the fun can then begin for public customers.

Amazon Go

While 2016 has clearly been a busy year, the innovation is far from over. Why not take a peek at the fintech trends looking set to shake up 2017

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