Digital Disruptors to Watch in 2017

In the lurid space where financial and digital innovation intersect, disruptors are booming. They’ll continue to cause upheaval in 2017 and make their mark in a landscape that’s becoming progressively challenging to navigate. Here’s my prediction of the movers and makers to watch in 2017:

The Rise of Cryptocurrencies

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, software like Blockchain – and the companies who use it, like Ripple, Ethereum and Bitcoin – will experience momentous growth in the year to come. Cryptocurrencies break down walls that limit international trade, and provide an (albeit complex) efficient solution. It will ultimately allow for global inter-country banking, without trade regulation and restriction.

Mobile POS (and the fall of the receipt) Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are the lifeblood of most developing countries. Traditional Point of Sale hardware and software is expensive, and excludes SMEs who can’t afford it. Couple this with a move towards on-the-go, cashless banking and it’s only natural that innovative mobile POS software and hardware will receive serious attention in 2017.

Alerts from savvy digital banks are also turning receipts into living fossils. Imagine a future where most SMEs will process payments via their own mobile phones – you won’t have to soon.

Inter-operability is the Key

Starbucks is the largest processor of mobile payments in the world – Fact. Their payment interface is simple and attractive – and used widely as a result. The problem is, it starts and ends with your Caramel Cream Frapuccino. You can’t use the payment platform for anything else, so it’s completely boxed in. The competitive mobile banking – and retail – industry means payment solutions are being built in silos. They’re highly efficient in their own rite, but can’t operate outside of themselves.

In 2017, there’ll be a fundamental shift to inter-operability, as users become increasingly frustrated with using various payment apps in isolation.

DNA as Passwords

Fraud attempts, hacks and scams have steadily increased as banking becomes a full-time occupant of the digital world. Learned, eloquent and shrewd citizens will laugh them off, but large portions of the population fall prey to scams every day. For this reason, expect to see reliance on biometrics in the future, like fingerprint detection and retina scanning, as means of fortifying the security of online payment platforms and bank accounts.

Moving Outside Marble and Glass

The banking industry is becoming so fiercely competitive, traditional banks have no choice but to adapt or face hemorrhaging their way through 2017. The coming year will see either the formation of innovation hubs within traditional banks, or collaborations with third-party innovators to provide a better experience for the customer. Some will fail, some will succeed, but all will (have to) experiment or risk having their customers walk away from them in favour of a competitor who has.

The First Line of Attack?

A fully integrated and cashless mobile banking platform to boost financial inclusion. It’s become near impossible to hire a car, book a hotel room or exist as a functional member of society without being financially included in some way.

In many ways, we have to fearlessly forge our way into 2017 without any idea of what it looks like on the other side. In other ways, we have access to data and trends that can give us direction of some description. It’s an ephemeral, unpredictable financial world and we’ll continue to navigate unchartered digital territory in 2017. I can’t wait.

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