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Crypto, NFTs, and General Finance Trends

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The finance industry, like all industries, was blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. Banks, lenders, and advisory firms had to dramatically alter how they did business, embracing a technology revolution driven by agile fintech (financial technology) startups. Mobile banking, digital trading, and online lending became standard fare for Millenials looking to invest, purchase a home, or deposit their paychecks with a click. 

Beyond COVID, the financial services sector has struggled with fragmented customer loyalty. As more financial services brands enter the market and find new ways to appeal to an “always online” generation, old-school financial companies are losing steam. The reality is, that going to the bank is inconvenient in a world where instant gratification is the norm. From generative artificial intelligence (AI) to cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the business of money is changing fast. Companies that can adapt and thrive in this new era of fintech will reign supreme. Here are the top finance trends for 2022. 

Top Finance Trends For 2022

Generative AI

Financial services companies are in the business of handling money, making money, and reducing their (and their clients’) risks. Financial companies are boosting customer service and mitigating risks with generative artificial intelligence (AI). Generative artificial intelligence refers to programs that allow machines to use things like text, audio files, and images to create content. 

This technology can improve customer experience and mitigate financial fraud for banks and financial services companies. Generative AI can improve chatbots and voice assistants to learn how to respond in a more humanistic form. This means that customer service can be streamlined with less human interaction. Generative AI can also help improve security and prevent fraud by proactively identifying weaknesses within fraud risk management, information security, and anti-money laundering compliance surveillance systems. Banks should, however, be aware that generative AI can be hijacked and used by fraudsters to synthesize identities by creating faces and voices attached to an imaginary person. However, with 43% of digital banking users in the US preferring to use a live chat or chatbot to address issues, the risks may be worth it. 

Increased Cybersecurity And Fraud Mitigation

While many banks and financial institutions are investing in technology to reduce risks, fraud, and data breaches, last May, the federal government instituted a new rule regarding reporting and safeguarding data. 

As of May 2021, federally regulated banks must report all cybersecurity incidents within 36 hours. The federal trade commission (FTC) amended its Safeguards Rule to require FTC-regulated organizations to develop and implement detailed cybersecurity requirements. Open banking, already gaining popularity in Europe and gathering traction in the U.S., will bring new regulatory attention to data sharing and security. 78% of respondents care about the security and privacy of their financial data.

Cryptocurrency & Blockchain 

It seems like everywhere we look, someone is talking about crypto. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that can be exchanged through a computer network that is not associated with a central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it. A blockchain is where cryptocurrency transactions are recorded in “blocks” that are then linked together on a “chain” of previous cryptocurrency transactions. 

Cryptocurrency landed on the scene in the early 2010s and is now estimated to be worth more than $3 trillion. Investment in the crypto and blockchain space soared in 2021, mainly among younger generations. Among all ages surveyed, millennials are more likely to invest in cryptocurrency. Of millennials surveyed, 64% indicated that they have investments, and 38% say they have some cryptocurrency investments. Of millennial investors, nearly 60% hold digital currencies. There are many benefits to cryptocurrency that appeal specifically to this generation, including low transaction costs, 24/7 buying and selling, and unlimited transfers. Given the rise of inflation, many central banks are considering developing their own digital currencies or investing considerable sums in cryptocurrency. 

NFTs 

NFT stands for “non-fungible tokens.” While it sounds a lot like fungus, “fungible” is just another word for “replaceable.” So, NFTs are rare digital assets. While a dollar can be replaced with another dollar, an NFT, like an antique ring, cannot be replaced because it’s unique. According to Investopedia, “NFTs are cryptographic assets on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other. Unlike cryptocurrencies, they cannot be traded or exchanged at equivalency.” 

Although they’ve been around since 2014, NFTs are gaining popularity now among Gen Z. Insights gathered by McKinsey as well as a report conducted by the NRF in association with IBM explain how NFTs directly appeal to the ideals of Gen Z. Gen Z’ers are not only digital natives, they also lean heavily into the co-creator culture, accessibility, and inclusivity. Although a small percentage, just 4%, currently collect NFTs, nearly 30% are either “somewhat interested” or “greatly interested” in them. The reasons for this interest? 41% agreed: “I’d like to own a moment that’s special to me.”

Bottom Line 

The pandemic, Millennials, and Gen Z’ers reshaped banking; that’s abundantly clear. However, perhaps finance is an industry that really needed a shake-up to provide more value and opportunity to its clientele. Mobile banking, digital trading, and online lending took center stage during lockdowns, but many other fintech trends are helping financial brands serve their customers. 

Generative artificial intelligence may help companies automate chatbots, solve customer problems quickly, and reduce financial fraud in the process. Given the updated FTC Safeguards Rule, requiring banks to have stricter cybersecurity guidelines, generative AI may transform financial institutions this year. Additionally, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is changing the meaning of money on a fundamental level. Many big baking institutions are trying to take advantage of its popularity with their own crypto products. Finally, NFTs use the scarcity principle to lure in Gen Z’ers who crave unique experiences. Financial brands embracing generational and economic changes, and the technologies spawned from them, will outpace the competition in 2022 and beyond. 

Remember, in finance, like life, the only constant is change. Continuous, fast research is imperative today. Learn how Fuel Cycle helps customers innovate with ongoing insights here.