How Fintech is facing the future … a future that’s in the face.
In the past couple of years, fintech (that’s Financial Technology to you and me) has been going through extraordinary upheaval. Decades ago, the big boys, Visa, Mastercard, and more recently, PayPal, revolutionised, controlled and dominated how we pay for goods and services. No longer. Those days are gone. Their monopoly has been well and truly smashed apart by the new fintech disruptors.
PayPal chief executive, Dan Schulman confesses,
‘You have to … reimagine how money can be managed and moved because there’s going to be more change in the next five years in financial services than what has happened in the past 30’
Rapidly developing technology is turning the sector on its head and dragging financial services into the digital age. A flood of new entrants is succeeding with novel approaches as to how financial services work.
There are almost three times as many UK banking and payments companies now than there were in 2005. Leading figures describe the trend as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.
A bank with its fintech finger on the pulse
British bank NatWest is leading the way with fingerprint biometrics. It’s currently trialing the use of a new contactless payment card with a built-in fingerprint scanner. You might be thinking, ‘What’s the point?’, when the current technology surely couldn’t be any simpler. The answer is that the fingerprint card does away with the notoriously annoying £30 limit. Purchases can be made to any value.
These cards are more secure than conventional debit and credit cards. The fingerprint data is stored locally on the card, preventing data being accessed by hackers stealing from the bank’s database. But – the technology isn’t 100% foolproof. A determined thief could steal and copy a fingerprint – all it takes is dexterity, know-how, a little dental mould to make a cast, a dollop of play-dough and quite a lot of luck. Still, the technology is much safer than PIN technology, where all a thief has to do is look over your shoulder as you enter the PIN.
China - at the leading edge of facial recognition technology
A subway operator in Shenzhen is testing facial recognition for subway access.
People entering the station can scan their faces on the screen where they would normally have tapped their phones or subway cards. Their fare is then automatically deducted from their bank accounts.
So far, so good, but not everyone is a fan of facial recognition technology. Take Yuan, a young man, who shared a flat with a couple of chaps he assumed were friends. He couldn’t understand why his bank account, which should have contained around $1,800, was virtually empty. Investigating police discovered the cause. While he was sleeping, his two flatmates had taken his phone, scanned his face and promptly transferred his savings into their own bank accounts. Part of the problem was that Yan’s phone technology was sub-standard. If he’d used up-to-date technology, he’d have used a system which only functions if the face-owners eyes are open.
It’s clear that both fingerprint and facial biometrics are becoming ever more secure and, before long they’ll be replacing our vulnerable PIN numbers.
Inevitably, there will be hiccups. For example, what about identical twins?
But all in all, these fintech developments are bad news for the criminal fraternity … unless, of course, they are Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos lookalikes!
Are you completely happy with your personal finances? Why not give us a call? We’d love the chance to guide you through any issues you might have. We are, after all – here to help.
This legal information is not the same as legal advice and you may not rely on our post as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding. Please, consult an attorney if you’d like to get advice on your interpretation of this article.