Technology impacts every aspect of personal finance. FinTech (financial technology) involves apps, software, and other innovations for banking and financial activities, which includes PayPal, Venmo, and cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. FinTech companies use online activities, mobile devices, software, apps, and cloud services to for financial transactions. Over 1.5 billion people around the world do not have access to formal banking. FinTech can provide these unbanked people with financial services through easy-to-use technology.
The main categories of FinTech for consumers are:
Crowdfunding, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, which allows individuals or businesses to go directly to potential investors for funding.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, with improved verification for financial transactions.
Mobile payments through a smartphone.
Insurance coverages provided by online start-ups.
Robo-advising provides portfolio investment recommendations and allocations based on algorithms. For stock-trading, investors buy and sell stocks using apps such as Robinhood and Acorns.
Budgeting apps, such as Mint and You Need a Budget (YNAB), monitor and plan spending.
As you walk into your bank, you are met by a video teller. These robo-banks allow you to connect with financial specialists based on your needs through a virtual concierge and videoconferencing. These banking staff members are located hundreds and thousands of miles away. Banks benefit from these actions with fewer branches and fewer employees covering customers in many geographic settings.
Other actions being taken by banks and other financial institutions to better serve customers include:
A variety of services to enhance the banking experience, such as offering co-working spaces for customers who work remotely.
Payment systems in the athletes’ Olympic pins to complete purchases transactions at the 2018 Winter Games.
Customers can pay with a facial recognition scan in some retail settings.
Financial services offered through Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), and Google Assistant allowing bank and credit card customers to check their balances, pay bills, and send money.
For additional information on technology banking trends, click here.
Have students talk to two or three others to obtain their ideas about: (a) future banking technology, and (b) the setting and services of the bank branch of the future.
Have students create a presentation or video that communicates future banking activities.
What technology services do you desire from a bank for your financial services?
Describe actions banks might take to better serve the needs of customers.
While beneficiary, collateral, and fair market value are familiar to many, these terms can be especially confusing to those with limited English-language skills. In an attempt to assist various people, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created the Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money to provide recent immigrants with information about basic money decisions. These guides offer brief suggestions to those who are new to the U.S. banking system. The guides also include guidance for submitting and resolving problems with a financial product or service.
The Newcomer Guides include these topics:
Ways to receive your money, comparing cash, check, direct deposit, and debit cards.
Checklist for opening an account, to assist with starting a bank or credit union account.
Ways to pay your bills, providing guidance on whether to pay by check, debit card, credit card, or online.
Selecting financial products and services, providing assistance on deciding which financial services are right for various household situations.
Print copies of the guides can be ordered or downloaded. These publications are available to English and Spanish with additional languages to be offered in the future.
For additional information on money guides for newcomers:
Automated investment services are expanding. Many financial service companies are offering “robo advice,” in which investors complete an online questionnaire and a computer program generates and monitors a portfolio of funds. Robo-advisers are also designed to automatically rebalance a portfolio based on changes in the market as well as any changes in the amounts allocated to certain investments.
With many investors already making their own trades online, investment companies believe that robo advisors have these additional benefits:
lower costs for obtaining advice and conducting transactions.
an ability to adjust the portfolio for tax purposes by selling shares that have declined to offset gains.
an easier investment approach for younger clients with less-complicated financial lives.
Some will be concerned about automated portfolio management. Human advisors will still be available to address issues about mortgages, insurance, estate planning, retirement income, and other topics that robo-advisers are not yet equipped to answer.
For additional information on robo advice, click on the following articles:
While smartphone apps have made banking easier than ever, threats to financial security continue to grow. However, some simple actions can be taken to avoid banking app mistakes.
1. Don’t conduct banking transactions on public Wi-Fi networks since they are vulnerable to hackers. Use a virtual private network (VPN), which provides added security and encryption.
2. Log out after your session to prevent a thief from getting access to your bank account.
3. Select a not-so-obvious username. Create password recovery questions with responses that are difficult to obtain from public records.
4. Update your app when a new version is available to take advantage new security features.
5. Create a strong password with special characters, and it should be at least 12 characters long. Change your password every 90 days.
For additional information on banking app errors, click here.
Have students talk with others about their experiences using banking apps.
Have students locate online information about the latest security features fof banking apps.
What are benefits of costs of banking apps?
How might banking apps be improved for increased financial security?
“. . . Financial coaching initiatives that target the working poor have sprung up in communities across the country.”
For low-income wage earners, the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for professional financial help can seem about as far-fetched as buying a winning lotto ticket. And yet, help is available in a number of the nation’s larger cities including Chicago and New York. In most cases, the financial coaches volunteer their time and have a background in personal finance or have received financial and investment training. The participants receive specific suggestions geared to their individual situation that are designed to improve their credit score and help them build a sound financial future. According to Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Having a trusted, well-informed financial coach can increase your odds of financial success.”
For more information, click here. Note: There is a short video that accompanies this article.
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Point out that often low wage earners don’t have the money to pay a financial coach to help them manage their finances.
Describe different situations where the advice from a financial coach could make a difference in someone’s financial future. For example, a coach’s suggestions on how to improve someone’s credit score could lead to obtaining a credit card for emergencies or a short-term loan to bridge the gap between unemployment and employment.
Assume you are unemployed and have exhausted your emergency fund. You are behind on monthly payments including your rent and utilities. What steps can you take to improve your financial situation?
In the above situation, what suggestions do you think a financial coach could provide that would help you work through this difficult situation?
Brian Page, a teacher in Reading Ohio, wants his students to understand the drawbacks of check-cashing services, pawnshops, rent-to-own stores, payday loans, and other shadow banking services. As a result, he scheduled a field trip for his students to visit these sources of high-cost financial services in their community, which are used by many unbanked consumers.
At LoanMax, they observed people getting loans with their auto titles serving as collateral. One missed payment could lead to repossession of the vehicle. Next, at CheckSmart, students learned about payday lending and tax refund anticipation loans.
At CashAmerica people were making loan payments on money borrowed, which used jewelry, electronics, and sports memorabilia as collateral. Finally, the visit to the Rent-A-Center store demonstrated the exorbitant costs of furniture, appliances, and electronics when using a rent-to-own payment program.
For additional information on teaching about high-cost financial services, go to:
Loans with annual interest rates exceeding 400 percent continue to occur in our society. Payday loans are often used to bridge a cash-flow shortage between paychecks. Also known as “cash advances” or “check loans,” they are usually expensive, small-dollar loans, of generally $500 or less. They offer quick and easy access to funds for consumers who may not qualify for other credit.
A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) study revealed that four out of five payday loans are rolled over or renewed within 14 days. The majority of payday-loan borrowers renew their loans so many times that they end up paying more in fees than the amount of money they originally borrowed. This study also reported that:
only 15 percent of borrowers repay all of their payday debts when due without borrowing again within 14 days.
20 percent default on a loan at some point, and
64 percent renew at least one loan one or more times.
These actions often create exorbitant fees and charges, and keep the consumer in perpetual debt.