Financial technology, known as fintech for short, uses software and digital platforms to deliver financial services to customers. These new tools have been disrupting traditional banking models by creating more user-friendly and efficient services.

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What this has meant in practice is that fintech has opened up boundless financial potential for a huge range of people. Access to financial products and services is more attainable than ever before, with more affordable options making services more inclusive in every respect.

Lowering the cost of doing business has also resulted in much bigger savings for consumers. This, combined with a much more prevalent and affordable use of mobile technology, has opened doors to many people previously excluded from the world of finance. Here are just a few examples of how this has been possible.

 

Money transfers

Moving or sending money from one country to another used to involve a trip down to your bank, Western Union or an equivalent service provider. This would include paying a fairly hefty charge for their services. These days you can do exactly the same thing on your phone for a fraction of the cost. Moving money has never been more convenient or cost-effective.

With the introduction of blockchain in recent years, the international money transfer industry has been turned on its head. The old guard is facing fierce competition from new fintech organisations utilising blockchain to lower the cost of international money transfers. An excellent example is Cashaa, who are building a blockchain based bank in 200 countries providing micro-financing and helps to build your credit score for those in developing countries.  Even Santander are launching a blockchain based foreign exchange service.

 

Credit history

This can be a massive stumbling block for people trying to secure loans or mortgages. Lenders look at traditional data such as loan repayments to assess suitability. Now, technology has opened up a new world of data sources, such as mobile phone payment history, to provide a much clearer picture of credit history.

Kora Network is a blockchain solution that provides a system for individuals in developing nations to build their credit score through Kora’s immutable ledger technology (blockchain).  This, in turn, allows them to gain access to financial services such as loans and credit cards which they previously wouldn’t be able to access. A simple yet brilliant solution that economies and the existing financial solutions do not solve due to lack of profit margins.

 

Cashless payments

For merchants around the world, this has been a huge development. The simplicity and security of digital payments has expanded across the world, with payments now being possible on mobile phones as well as credit and debit cards.  Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are some of the most popular methods due to their amazing market share in the mobile industry.

 

Microfinance

Without the need for travel and mountains of paperwork, loan applications and banking services can now be carried out in seconds rather than hours. This makes it easier and more convenient for people in all corners of the globe, including remote locations, to become part of the online banking system. Businesses can access loans and digital banking solutions that make operations significantly easier.

 

Deferred payment plans

Rather than having to access large sums of cash to make payments, it is now possible in some instances to pay in instalments over time electronically. This has allowed businesses to bring technology and development to remote locations without the need for lump sums. Case studies have seen deferred payment bring electricity to African villages which would otherwise not have been able to afford it.

As fintech continues to develop, it will doubtless open up even more options for including more people from around the planet. This levelling of the playing field could have huge potential benefits for all of us. As always, blockchain technology is behind many of the major advances, with its distributed ledger system allowing more and more boundaries to be broken down and greater inclusiveness in all areas of the financial system.

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