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How technology will transform banking in 2016: Blockchain, digital challengers and IoT

Matthew Finnegan | Jan. 4, 2016
Industry experts make predictions for 2016.

Emergence of blockchain and bitcoin 'unicorns'

Blockchain - the distributed ledger technology underpinning bitcoin cryptocurrencies - generated huge interest in 2015 and it is likely to continue in 2016 as adoption broadens.

Many banks are already investigating how they can utilise blockchain applications within their business, while IT vendors such as Microsoft are helping them create real use cases. At the same time, a growing ecosystem of startups are pushing the technology, which many believe has uses outside finance too.

According to Jeremy Millar, partner at Magister Advisors, M&A advisors to the technology industry, next year will see the emergence of at least five bitcoin and blockchain businesses with a valuation of more than $1 billion.

"These valuations will be built on the opportunity of selling products and services into the largest and most profitable industry in the world, not on subsidising consumer services to drive adoption or building audiences to monetise with advertising.

"These new companies will have real lasting value; they're not creatures from a fairy tale that will fade away when their valuations, which are based, appropriately enough, on leaps of the imagination, drop."

Finance sector will reap benefits of the internet of things

Financial services may not be the first sector which springs to mind when discussing the internet of things. But as this Deloitte report points out, the explosion of internet connected devices will provide better data for decision making.

Auto insurance telematics and 'smart' commercial real estate building-management systems offer some of the more obvious examples. But using sensors monitoring the activity of agricultural or manufacturing industries could help inform investing or lending decisions.

Mike Laven, CEO of Currency Cloud, says this will provide opportunity for new players in the market.

"When IoT crosses with finance, we suddenly get an explosion of data. It starts to get interesting when it comes to figuring out how to use that to great effect - and more specifically how to monetise the use of that data is something new fintech entrepreneurs will be looking to figure out in the New Year."

Banks will push wearables apps

While some banks had tested out wearbles apps on smartwatches before, the launch of the Apple Watch convinced more to get on board.

Nevertheless, applications remain limited. Balazs Vinnai, general manager, Digital Channels, Misys, says that it is not a lack of consumer interest that is holding banks back from further investments in this area. "Banks continue to face challenges with their digital strategies so it is no surprise only a small percentage currently support wearables."

A recent report from the fintech firm claimed that while 96 percent of banking professionals polled believe that wearable tech will impact their industry, only 15 percent are currently rolling out their own. However, the majority expect to have done so within the next two to three years.


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