The promise of fintech is now more accessible and more widely adopted than ever. At iCard, we are happy to be a leader in innovative personal payment technologies, delivering solutions that reach the mobile phones of users in over 30 countries. Of course, riding the innovation wave would be impossible without every single one of you.
So, what are these new developments that are thrilling for industry leaders and end-users alike?
1. Account-opening from home helps people skip bank branch visits
The promise of remote bank account opening sounded like a scam just 3-4 years ago. After all, banks have always wanted to see you in person and match your face to the picture on your ID or passport.
Technology has given us all the means to perform user identification from a distance. Fintech apps are able to push boundaries for personal banking services thanks to powerful handheld devices with excellent quality cameras and very fast 4G networks.
By now, legislation has also changed to adapt to the new reality. In a mature mobile market, regulations have already caught up and described precise rules for strict methods that financial institutions may use to identify clients from a distance.
Slowly, but steadily, these new solutions are gaining traction and media headline space, witnessed by the growth of companies like iCard, N26, Revolut, Monese, bunq, Phyre, to just name a few. All have solid offerings and provide extremely competitive services to that of standard banks. Users simply have to download an app and verify identity online before having an account opened and ready to receive money or pay.
European fintech apps already reached tens of millions of users throughout the continent with zero people visiting a branch.
2. Delivery of debit cards to your doorstep is a big innovation for some markets
Not all banks in different countries around Europe and the rest of the world deliver newly issued debit cards to clients. There are a lot of card issuers in some markets that fail to make your life easy. Our clients (and fans) in Bulgaria, for example, love us for bringing this innovation to the country. Before iCard, they had to visit a bank branch, wait, open an account, wait for days, come back to receive a simple debit card and activate it. Some banks in the Netherlands had already adopted card delivery, but then you have fit a bank branch visit in your overly-busy schedule to activate it. We don’t believe this is efficient and that’s one of the reasons a lot of people already switched away from mobile banking to using a digital wallet.
At the end of the day, it depends on each financial institution to decide how they will innovate to win new clients and retain the current. Local banks throughout the EEA now see fierce competition and aggressive marketing from new and agile neo-banks that have continent-wide coverage through the EU bank passport rules.
3. Rich and easy user experience
The truth is that long-standing banks are heavily dependent on paper-based processes, ink-based signatures, printed documents and the almighty, desk-banging, official company rubber stamps that so-much stray away from digital. Overcoming these obstacles for the sake of innovation and providing clients with competitive banking apps is no simple task for established institutions. It requires a total infrastructure makeover and many will likely fail to compete with agile fintech companies that nowadays pop-up like mushrooms after rain.
Fintech, on the other hand, has so much to offer. Our mobile wallet, for example, lets you login with a fingerprint and pay by tapping your phone at any contactless POS terminal. This provides better security and faster payments than what debit cards and NFC wearables have to offer.
Instant & free money transfers are also part of this improved personal finance experience. With iCard, you can send or receive money from other users just by knowing their phone number. You can also transfer money from within our end-to-end encrypted iCard Messenger. QR code payments work in a similar fashion – free and instantly, except you don’t need the other person’s contact details when paying face-to-face.
The above-mentioned examples are far from exhaustive and you are welcome to try everything else with zero monthly fees.
4. Open Banking API connects your money
Even if all banks manage to innovate their client-facing offerings with fast, sleek and time-saving apps, they still have a slight issue. Open Banking, which came into force with the PSD2 directive in Europe, is a way to spur innovation through openness and more competition. How?
The new rules aim at using APIs to allow banks and licensed third-party developers to create services and apps around established financial institutions. It is a way for fintech startups to create novel products and services by embedding open banking standards and enabling ways for clients to consolidate their money management services. For example, you could manage all your different bank accounts from within a single account.
All of this means that banks should give out direct access to users’ financial data at the level of accessing and authorizing transactions. This may not necessarily be seen as a threat but it definitely raises the bar for the services offered by traditional financial institutions.
5. Strong Customer Authentication is a great driver of security and innovation
The future promises totally seamless payments and much more protection for your money, especially with the new SCA rules, or Strong Customer Authentication, which is part of the above-mentioned PSD2 directive. The rules require multi-factor authentication to boost the safety of electronic money payments and none of the above innovations would be possible or acceptable without strong authentication from a distance.
Particularly, SCA works when you authenticate with two out of three factors:
- Something you know: your PIN or passcode
- Something you have: your smartphone or card reader, verified with a one-time password
- Something you are: unique fingerprint, face or eye’s iris
Combining 2 out of the 3 factors (knowledge, possession or inherence) is much stronger than authenticating with just your old password.
Using iCard to handle your personal money means you are supporting new technology. Nothing would be possible without the early adopters like you and many, many other people like yourself who regularly drop excellent reviews in Google Play, App Store and Trust Pilot.
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