FinTech: Where Online and Offline Converge
At the 2017 World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, Daniel Schulman, CEO of PayPal, made two points. The first is that “currencies of all kinds are digitizing” and the second is “the explosion of mobile into the marketplace.”
Cheques are disappearing. Although 85% of the world’s transactions are still in cash, they’re increasingly digitizing. And so you’ve got money, in general, digitizing…actually, the currency itself will start to digitize as well. But all of that is enabled, really, by the explosion of mobile into the marketplace.
He concluded that there is going to be a huge wave of “platforms that manage and move money for consumers.”
Technological innovations like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Interac, and Paypal have made digital payments easy, efficient, and safe. In fact, Loup Ventures estimates that over 252 million people, across the world, used Apple Pay in 2018. Researchers estimate that mobile payments will continue to rise in popularity. This is in alignment with Schulman’s prediction: as money is digitizing, so is currency.
According to an article in Cointelegraph.com, cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency.
In 2009, an individual or group under the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto launched the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency called Bitcoin. A decade later, Bitcoin is one of the most well-known and most-used cryptocurrency. According to CNBC, the 17th million Bitcoin was mined in April 2018.
Despite Bitcoin’s popularity, the real appeal and value in cryptocurrencies lie within the blockchain technology. The Motley Fool explains blockchain technology as “a digital and decentralized ledger that records payment and transfer transactions in a safe and efficient manner.” This means that similar to mobile payments, blockchain technology validates transactions quickly and securely.
Unlike mobile payments, blockchain uses multiple layers of security to protect and store sensitive information. Also, it works on a decentralized platform, which makes it difficult for banks or governments to regulate cryptocurrencies. For these reasons and more, researchers predict that these digital platforms will continue to grow and expand in the near future.
According to research by Adobe Digital Insights, online automation mentions have doubled year-over-year (YoY), and average daily mentions of “robots” and “jobs” have increased 70% YoY.
In the financial services industry, most jobs involve a person performing a repetitive task like data entry. To aid with repetitive human tasks like this, engineers created software programs to streamline labour.
In this line of thinking, Deloitte published a 2017 report that explored the impacts of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the digital workforce. The report defined RPA as follows:
Robotic Process Automation (RPA), often referred to as ‘robotics’ or ‘robots’, is defined as the automation of rules-based processes with software that utilizes the user interface and which can run on any software, including web-based applications, ERP systems, and mainframe systems.
For accountants, RPA can:
- Open email and attachments
- Move files and folders
- File forms
- Reading and writing to databases
- Make calculations
- Scrape data from the web
On the one hand, RPA eliminates jobs that require tedious and repetitive work. On the other hand, it reduces wasted time, increases efficiency, and encourages people to focus on work that further exercises human intelligence. For instance, The CPA Journal explains, “a significant portion of tax activities, such as the calculation of book-tax differences and the preparation of tax returns, has been successfully automated by RPA software robots.”
Money is digitizing; currency is digitizing; labour is automating. For more information, check out a similar Caseware blog, 5 Reasons Accountants Need To Embrace Artificial Intelligence or watch the recording of our webinar, Caseware TechTalk: Embracing The Technologies At Your Fingertips