Fintech is quickly changing how we spend and invest our money

"We're on the cusp of a dynamic shift that no one has ever seen before," Adam Nanjee told a packed hall at the World Money Show conference in Toronto on October 30th, 2015. Nanjee is the Head of Financial Technology (Fintech) at MaRS Discovery District, and he wasn't overstating the changes business owners and consumers are set to witness, from banking and payment technologies to financing, to shopping in virtual reality. Here are six ways fintech will change how you spend and invest your money in 2016.

  1. Sign up for an investment account from your mobile phone

    In Canada, companies such as Wealthsimple and Nest offer diversified portfolios of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs), managed at a fraction of what one might pay a traditional investment advisor.

    "There's a major gap in the investment industry where those who are just starting out in their career don't have access to quality financial advice," says Wealthsimple's CEO, Michael Katchen. "We're simply attempting to fill that gap."

    Wealthsimple's new mobile app offers customers the ability to complete the entire sign up process without having to pick up the phone or visit a branch in person to sign documents.

  2. Send your friends money from within a social application

    With the emergence of applications like Finn.ai, your penny-pinching friends are running out of excuses to back out of paying for lunch. Finn.ai gives people the ability to send money to family, friends, coworkers, etc. through in-app direct messages, and can easily link to bank accounts and credit cards within minutes.

    "Ultimately we're trying to replace cash and coins in your wallet and the only way we're going to replace that is with your phone," said Finn.ai CEO, Jake Tyler in an interview with BetaKit.

  3. Pay from anywhere with cloud-based payment solutions

    Mobile point of sale systems such as Dreampayments utilize the cloud to offer greater flexibility to customers with lower fees and little or no upfront cost to business owners. Through Dreampayment's mobile app, business owners can now accept Interac® debit and credit cards and even contactless payments while enjoying instant access to reports and analytics, manageable via tablet or mobile phone.

  4. Authenticate your payment using your unique heartbeat

    Say goodbye to passwords and security questions. The Nymi Band allows users to authenticate payments using their unique heartbeat (electrocardiogram). Nymi has already collaborated with MasterCard to pilot its NFC-enabled prototype, according to a press release. It even works for people with medical conditions such as irregular heart rhythms!

  5. Receive instant approval to finance just about anything

    With FinanceIT, you can forego paying in full and select among payment plans, which can be processed through quick, easy online application via computer, tablet or mobile phone. The Toronto-based company has already processed nearly $1 billion in loan applications received from its more than 4,000 merchant partners.

  6. Shop in virtual reality using your mobile phone

    Shopping in virtual reality is closer than one may think. According to PinchVR president, Milan Baic, the technology is already real, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes part of everyday life. "If you think about it, there are already apps that turn smartphones into 3D scanners. Eventually, retailers will meet the demand from customers to host virtual replicas of their products in their virtual storefronts." PinchVR, a Toronto-based firm, has secured patents to supply the market with what it calls the 'point and shoot' of virtual reality headsets, which double as protective cases for your mobile phone. PinchVR is getting ready to release their product in 2016, starting at a cost of around a hundred dollars.

Learn more about Ontario's fast-growing financial technology sector

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December 22, 2015

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