Personal finance never ceases to be a hot topic among the key ‘how-tos’ of modern life. With good money management arguably more important than ever in a relatively tough economic climate, we’re all looking for that little extra help in doing the right thing with our cash.
Over the past ten years, technology has vastly changed the way we go about managing our finances, enabling more people to get on top of their budgeting, spending and saving habits. This is thanks to the introduction of various timesaving, easy-to-use processes that are appearing with increasing regularity as financial tech continues to advance.
Here, we look at three of the fundamental helpers in personal finance today.
Even though it’s not been around for long, it’s sort of hard to remember life before the likes of online banking and personal finance apps. In fact, the idea of sitting down with pen, paper and calculator to do your monthly budget is practically alien these days.
Such apps are a dime a dozen – every major bank has one, and the success has led to a number of upstart online-only banks such as Monzo and Starling, plus personal finance favourites like Mint and Yolt.
The common theme across all of these apps is their ability to completely automate your finances. Automation can help you to redistribute your funds responsibly and efficiently on a regular basis. That means that bill paying, saving and pension contributions, and monitoring your monthly spending have become virtually effortless – allowing even the laziest of budgeters to take control of their money.
You only need to look to the financial crisis of 2008, sparked by the collapse of Northern Rock a year prior, to understand the dangers of risky lending. Northern Rock plied its trade on high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages, leading to a funding crisis and a very public demise. Their fall taught the industry some valuable lessons about approving higher risk loans, leading to the Financial Conduct Authority to apply stricter regulations on who can get one.
One part of that is generating a better understanding of a customer’s financial profile, and thus their reliability as a potential applicant. In the last couple of years, artificial intelligence applications for lending and loan management have helped improve these checks greatly.
Current AI tech applications can analyse the vast digital footprints of typical applicants, helping lenders to develop a more immersive financial profile of a would-be borrower than ever. From this ‘alternative data’, banks and loan companies can get a better idea of someone’s creditworthiness – which is potentially beneficial to both sides in helping find suitable loan packages for each applicant.
Not only that, but AI is also helping to streamline the loan process and improve customer experience. As the technology is constantly learning and re-evaluating, the lending process is improving, too.
It’s tougher than ever to be a financial fraudster. First came computers to remove human error, then came electronic payments to remove cash out of the system. Now, AI has progressed to the point where detecting and identifying fraud is based on analysis of previous patterns rather than trained staff, which has sped up the process significantly.
Add in useful cryptography tech like blockchain, which is virtually impenetrable from a fraud standpoint, and modern tech is helping protect us against fraudulent behaviour more effectively than ever.
The ease at which we can manage our personal finances today is a marked contrast from thing even ten years ago. The rise of accessible finance apps, and the ever-improving technology utilised by lenders, has made money management in 2020 a virtual piece of cake – and things are only set to get better.
Image Credits: Michael Longmire