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Five intelligent innovations helping consumers

Thu Feb 08 05:00:00 EST 2018

In 2017 we were introduced to checkout-free shopping, learned how machines can help manage our money and Barclaycard even tested the first self-service ice cream van. Fintech has moved out of the margins and into the mainstream with new innovations making life easier day-to-day for consumers. But, there is no Batman without Robin, no Lone Ranger without Tonto; innovation and collaboration is key to success and 82% of financial services companies say they expect to increase fintech partnerships in the next three to five years. It’s hardly surprising considering the types of innovations already making life better for consumers.

The end of credit history?

So many people find themselves having to take out last resort, high interest loans because they don’t have much of a credit history, but new technological innovations are allowing one company in Germany to approve loans based on a host of alternative factors.

Hamburg-based company Kreditech are using machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, to develop a unique credit scoring system for ‘thin file’ consumers - with little or no credit history. They can process up to 20,000 data points per application – all in less than a minute[1]. The checks focus on things like your browsing history and internet habits, as well as social media activity to gauge eligibility to borrow.

Artificial intelligence has been part of our lives for years, but 2018 could be the year that its use grows exponentially. A recent study found that 72% of business executives said they believe AI will be the business advantage of the future[2].

Predicting the future?

If you want to predict the future, you could try looking into a crystal ball. The most likely result being a distorted mirror image of your own face staring back at you rather than a misty vision of what is to come. But what if you can use data from today to predict what might happen tomorrow? London-based company Fluidly is using artificial intelligence to do just that for businesses.

It’s an intelligent system which plans, optimises and manages cash flow – analysing and learning from previous transactions to highlight threats and maximise opportunities.

This innovation could be a revolution for small businesses, predicting their financial future with automated cash forecasting, as well as helping them to get paid faster and more predictably by speeding up cash collection. The software also continuously monitors transactions, checking for unusual patterns and alerting users.

Say goodbye to paper receipts

Hands up - who hates receipts? One of Barclaycard’s innovative partnerships could put an end to wallets and purses stuffed with paper. Flux, a London start-up from the 2017 Barclays Accelerator programme aims to rid the world of paper receipts by replacing them with digitised versions.

Flux is built as an add-on within several banking apps, meaning you don’t even need to download it. Simply select it as a preference and it starts creating digital receipts. For those who can never quite get their hands on that illusive ‘10th coffee free’, or simply refuse to stuff loyalty cards in their purse or wallet, it can automatically store these too.

You’ll be able to closely monitor your purchasing, with the itemised bills highlighting exactly where your money is going… So, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you’re spending on coffee, takeaway food or that long-forgotten gym membership. Deciphering unclear transactions will also become a thing of the past – making fraudulent activity easier to spot.

Seeing the bigger picture

Most of us are managing various bank accounts or financial services, and flicking between websites and apps (whilst mixing up passwords along the way) can be an annoying at best – but what if you could see it all in one place?

Fintech, Bud is based in London; from bank accounts to insurance plans, it allows users to see all their financial services together in one space.

Users can simply add their various accounts onto the platform, and it will also provide personalised insight combining data gathering and machine learning functions to help people manage their money more effectively.      

Crowdfunding homes

New tech is allowing more people to become investors. There are many mobile-based platforms that are democratising investment, cutting transaction fees and allowing more people access to markets on-the-move. While no investment is risk-free, big data can also give insights and advice to aid the (relatively) uninitiated.

Investing in property has been an exclusive game. Many can’t afford to get their own mortgage, let alone invest in other real estate, but one of the many crowdfunding platforms allows investment with just a few thousand in the bank.

Described as ‘real estate investing made easy’, San Francisco-based Realtyshares’ online platform allows users to invest or raise capital for property projects via a crowdfunding model. The peer-to-peer lending marketplace platform connects real estate companies in need of financing with accredited investors who seek passive income.

More than $700 million has been invested across 1,000+ properties, with more than 120,000 individuals and institutions having already gained access to property investments across the U.S.

These innovative companies are making life easier for consumers and businesses. We’re already seeing how technology can be inclusive, but it can also increase security and save time and money. Think what opportunities there could be this time next year.

[1] https://www.kreditech.com/what-we-do/

[2] http://pwcartificialintelligence.com/