Fintech is having a big impact on banking — and it's getting bigger
Among the many services they offer, banks are first and foremost money depositories — convenient places to stash and retrieve cash. These days, with all sorts of ways to navigate the digital space, banks and financial institutions are making wealth access easier than ever. From entirely mobile banks and payments between friends to AI-enhanced chatbots and anti-money laundering software, these fintech companies and services are bringing banking into the digital age.
Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assistants
Mobile banking is flexible, easy and a time-saver. Some banks go above and beyond, offering virtual assistants to make the mobile experience even simpler. From text- and voice-enabled payments to fraudulent alerts and credit score notifications, virtual assistants are already enhancing the relatively new world of mobile banking.
What it does: Ally Assist is the virtual assistant in Ally Bank’s mobile banking application. Ally Assist is both text and voice-enabled, meaning users can simply speak or text with the assistant to take care of their banking needs. Some of the tasks Ally Assist handles include payments, deposits, transfers and detailed information requests. The assistant learns from users, anticipating needs and recommending solutions.
Impact on banking: Ally Assist is another step toward automating the simpler aspects of customer service.
What it does: Eno is Capital One's intelligent assistant. The virtual helper lets users text questions, receive fraud alerts and take care of tasks like paying credit cards, tracking account balances, viewing available credit and checking transactions, all within their smart phone’s message application.
Impact on banking: Eno communicates like human users do (emojis and all) while keeping information safe and easily accessible. It also allows users to ask basic questions and find quick information on the fly without having to log into their mobile app.
What it does: Erica is a mobile assistant application from Bank of America that lets users view bills and payments, transfer money, get regular FICO Score updates and receive breakdowns of recurring monthly payments like parking passes or streaming services.
Impact on banking: Erica keeps users aware of changes in their finances while taking care of simple tasks like sending money or paying bills.
Fraud Detection & Security
In an online-centric age rife with innovations, hackers and identity thieves are constantly at work scamming and phishing their way into bank accounts and compromising personal information. Some anti-fraud efforts, like the EMV chip on credit cards, have cut down on card cloning, but there’s still a long way to go.
These companies, among many others, are striving to make mobile and online banking safer.
Location: San Mateo, Calif.
What it does: Feedzai is a software company that offers end-to-end fraud-fighting and anti-money laundering solutions to retail banks. Using machine learning and risk management tools, Feedzai provides banks and their customers with multi-channel fraud protection for issues like account takeover, transaction fraud and new account verification.
Impact on banking: A retail bank implemented Feedzai to streamline risk assessment of new account applications. In the past, this retail bank denied more than half of its received applications because it was unable to efficiently assess them. After teaming up with Feedzai, the bank increased approvals to over 70% while avoiding an increase in fraud loss.
What it does: InAuth is a security platform that provides mobile risk and fraud solutions for industries like banking, insurance and e-commerce. For banks specifically, InAuth helps secure mobile applications so customers are less susceptible to fraud. The platform provides tools like two-step authentication, device integrity screening, geo-location lookups and transaction monitoring to enhance mobile banking, increase security and reduce fraud losses.
Impact on banking: InAuth’s platform makes it easier and more secure for customers to apply for various bank programs online. Its device intelligence identifies devices that attempt to open accounts or enroll in banking programs, stopping fraudulent activity before it can cause damage.
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
What it does: Simility is a big data company that combines machine learning and manpower to detect and curb fraud in digital banking. The company’s solutions detect both payment and new account fraud while providing custom fraud solutions.
Impact on banking: A mobile-focused bank implemented Simility to keep its fraud rate from increasing as the company grew and signed new cardholders. The company’s previous anti-fraud system required many manual reviews and was unable to link users through identifying information like phone numbers and addresses. With Simility, the bank reportedly was able to predict 85% of historically approved fraudulent transactions, and manual reviews were decreased by 70%.
Neo banks operate digitally, providing basic banking services without any physical branches. These digital financial companies are taking cues from traditional big banks in terms of “what not to do” while offering financial services that cost consumers less. That means, for example, fewer fees and more transparency. These fintech companies are changing the way people save, bank, budget and spend their money.
Location: Marina Del Rey, Calif.
What it does: Aspiration is a financial services company providing banking, investment and retirement products and services with minimal to no extra fees. Its banking services offers access to no-fee ATMs, fraud reimbursement and a low 1% annual interest on a user’s entire balance.
Impact on banking: Aspiration allows users to “Pay What Is Fair,” meaning the customer chooses the exact amount they pay, even if that amount is $0. Aspiration also donates 10% of these chosen fees to vetted non-profit charities.
Location: San Francisco
What it does: Chime is a completely digital bank that forgoes the fees most traditional banks charge. The bank offers simple spending and savings accounts with Visa debit cards that are managed through its mobile app. The app also provides early paycheck access, daily notifications on balance and real-time transaction alerts.
Impact on banking: As of January 2018, Chime recorded over 750,000 bank accounts on its mobile platform and transaction volume of $2.5 billion.
Location: San Francisco
What it does: Varo is an all-in-one mobile banking platform that offers services ranging from deposits and savings accounts to cash flow projections and in-app budgeting tools. Varo prides itself on transparent banking with no fees for monthly service, foreign transactions or using one of its 55,000 ATM locations.
Impact on banking: In September 2018, federal banking regulators granted Varo preliminary approval to launch Varo Bank, making it the first completely mobile national bank.
Location: Portland, Ore.
What it does: Simple offers banking and budgeting services on a mobile platform. In addition to traditional banking services, Simple allows users to log recurring expenses and automatically set aside enough money every month for necessities. Simple also offers shared accounts that let couples retain their individual accounts while collaborating on fiscal needs with their partners.
Impact on banking: With basic and distinct banking features, Simple is another option for consumers who want an alternative to traditional banks.
All photos via Shutterstock and social media.