Technology is Changing how we Handle Money

Taking care of one’s finances is usually thought of as something that can only be done by those who have extensive about handling money. Perhaps the idea of finances is more accessible to finance gurus, or people who have taken accounting classes. Younger generations grow up to find the broad idea of ‘personal finance’ looming over their heads, without the slightest idea of how to start handling their money.

Technology is changing this around.

With the advancement of financial technology in general, younger people are being included in the ranks of those who look after their spending and savings. This is a concept that has come to be known as financial inclusion, and it is revolutionizing how money is being tracked. Financial technology in recent years has been striving to make financial security more of a democratic process. It wants to cut down on the number of people who feel helpless in their spending.

The four subsets of this new category of financial inclusion are payment, credit, insurance, and investment, as reports Business Today. Payment is a no-brainer. People need to be able to pay bills, pay for products, and pay each other. This used to be done with physical cash or checks. Financial technology has made it so that money can be transferred from one person to another without them having to physically meet. Mobile wallets exist now, and the question of if physical cash needs to exist at all is becoming increasingly prevalent. If money can be transferred from one account to another instantly, is carrying around cash at all necessary?

Credit is a slightly more difficult concept to grasp, simply because it is not yet available to everyone. Financial institutions need to have a record of transactions to get credit information, but not all financial transactions are connected directly to such institutions. This is why there has been a demand for a universal credit platform, in which all transaction history of an individual is saved and readily available. The credit sector of financial inclusion still needs more work, but it is getting there.

Insurance and investments in a similar fashion have been completely changed by digital smartphone applications. Applications have been, and will be further, making insurance-buying and investing much more convenient for everyone with access to the technology.
Companies leading the financial technology revolution are aware that the digital handling of money has to be easy and reliable. They are still working to make the entire financial industry digital. It will be exciting to see where this technology takes us in years to come.

Tailored Ads and Buying now : A Big Week for Ecommerce

ferhan patel twitter birdThis past week has already witnessed a marked uptick in products and services that more accurately target and engage with the consumer on some of their favorite platforms. This year’s Advertising week (based in New York) showcased two new services from tech behemoths Google and Facebook that improve targeted ads and ad ratings metrics, while Twitter and YouTube announced plans to make shopping even easier.

Google revealed a new product that will enable marketers to deliver ad campaigns directly to consumers using their email addresses. This new service launched by Google is called “Customer Match” and is a very targeted approach in determining when and what ad a consumer will see when logged in to Google.

Facebook on the other hand, revealed a new tool that gives advertisers a ratings metric when purchasing video ads. This tool is comparable to what advertisers have used when purchasing commercial time on television. This tool is meant to streamline the planning and purchasing process for advertisers.

It’s no surprise that companies like Google and Facebook are leading the way in refining their processes for identifying and capturing their users. In the same vein, YouTube and Twitter both announced the addition of the “buy button” to their service offerings.

YouTube recently revealed that it would simplify the process of transitioning from ad content to product purchase. With one click, YouTube will direct the user from the video content featuring a particular product directly to the retail site. This means that whether the video is a product review uploaded by a YouTuber or the official ad for the product, the viewer can easily shift into shopping mode.

Similarly, Twitter announced that the company is introducing a new feature for tweets. Going forward, a user will be able to purchase a product featured in a tweet in “as few as two taps – one tap on the buy button and a second to confirm the purchase”, according to reporter Vindu Goel. Twitter announced this week that that it plans to roll out this new “buy now” button, that any US merchant can access if it uses Demandware, Bigcommerce or Shopify.

Although these new features are not yet completely available in all markets, the continued push to incorporate targeted advertising and shopping opportunities to new areas of one’s digital life is not slowing down. In fact, the introduction of these services are most likely indicative of more to come.

Google Lets the Games Begin With Chromecast

ferhan patel chromeAccording to The Guardian, there was a time when the gaming industry was dominated by speciality companies (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo).  But that is no longer the case, as major tech companies such as Google and Apple move into the market at a rapid pace. Apple has recently redesigned their Apple TV product with more of a focus on gaming. Now, you can download and run games, giving Playstation 4, Xbox One, and the Wii U a run for their money. Google has also been focusing in on this market and is ready to capitalize on the market with their product, Chromecast.

With Chromecast, Google has designed a playing system where you can use your smartphones with your TV. The smartphone serves as the controller and the source of the processing power.

When compared to competitors, Chromecast president responds, “There’s a fundamental difference between the other models out there and what we’re doing. Games require computing power, and the smartphone has superior computing power to any of the popular streaming boxes that are out there.”

He believes that the smartphone is one to two generations ahead with computing power compared to other available products out there. This allows consumers to take advantage of better computing power with better rendered images and not waste time or space downloading games to a streaming box.

When Chromecast was first launched in the summer of 2013, it was a small thumb-sized device that simply plugged into a TV. Since then, google has sold over $17 million of the devices and have acquired thousands of apps to support their product.

Not only is Google focusing on gaming but on sound too. They are continuing to grow Chromecast Audio, which will connect easily to speakers and allow you to play music from partner services including Google Play Music, Pandora, and Spotify.

The vice president of Spotify, Gustav Soderstrom comments on this partnership, ““If you think about last year’s big focus on the internet of things, people kept talking about connected fire alarms and similar devices. But the obvious thing is to get your music playing with those connected features. That’s the most natural entry point to the internet of things.”

As the tech giants continue to make headway in the gaming world, the boxes, stations, and wiis of the world could be on their way to becoming obsolete (like the Dreamcasts, Nintendo 64’s, and Gamecubes). Even so, you will still have your favorite games, and a new, interactive way of playing them.

Uber: Old Problems, New Demographics

Ferhan PatelThis summer has proven to be an interesting one for Uber. The company that connects passengers with drivers through an app is facing a C$400million dollar lawsuit.  Taxi drivers in Toronto jointly filed the suit alleging that services provided by Uber are initiating an “enormous marketplace” for transportation throughout the city that is simply not legal, as Uber drivers are not licensed to operate taxis.

Cab driver Dominic Konjevic is labeled as the plaintiff in this battle.  However, law firm; Sutts, Strosberg LLP – who filed the complaint against Uber, claims that the case represents all taxi drivers and car service companies operating within the province.

Toronto is not unique in having residents pursue legal action against Uber. The company has been embroiled in legal battles internationally.

In spite of these ongoing legal battles, however, Uber has just announced a billion dollar investment to expand the company’s presence in India. Uber is also rolling out new initiatives intended to recruit more drivers of a particular demographic.

By 2016, Uber plans to increase its ridership in India to one million rides per day owing to this billion dollar infusion of funding. This is a significant increase in ridership from the current number of approximately 200,000 rides per day. Currently Uber’s biggest competition in India is Ola, a similar car service that enables the user to find a ride based on location, price and car.

In addition to this planned expansion in India, Uber has made headlines recently for its targeted recruitment of a very specific population for drivers. In the US, Uber just announced plans to partner with Life Reimagined.  This organization aids older people in figuring out their professional trajectory after major transitions. Although Uber drivers in the United States currently tend to be young and female, strategic partnerships such as this one may change that trend.

Prior to this initiative, Uber sought to recruit another demographic, in that case it was veterans. The thought behind this was that veterans would be disciplined and perhaps enjoy an outlet that required that trait. This turned out to be a successful campaign, and on average those drivers tend to receive better passenger ratings.