The FinTech App Revolution

One extraordinary development in the world of FinTech over the past ten years has been the rise of the smartphone and the rise of finance apps with it. Today, millions of transactions occur via apps: Amazon purchases, bank deposits and withdrawals, Bitcoin transactions, Litecoin transaction, stock purchases and sales, money transfers, and more. For those like myself who were around before the FinTech app revolution, this change in the way that people handle finances is astounding. Yet, at the same time, these changes are becoming more and more ingrained in the way that people conduct business. Below is a brief survey of finance apps out there:

Stocks and Investing

Credited for bringing a large number of young investors into the world of stocks, Robinhood’s low barrier of entry and simple interface makes buying stocks easy. In the realm of social media, StockTwits provides a place for experts and neophytes alike to share their thoughts on stocks, bonds, and other market happenings. Further lowering the barrier of entry are a number of apps that do investing for you. These include Acorns, which uses the spare change from debit card transaction for micro-investments, Loyal3, which makes investing in companies you love easy and accessible, and Wealthfront, which will automatically invest a minimum deposit of $500 for free (as long as the balance is under $10,000). And that’s just barely scratching the surface.

Money Transfer

First and foremost, there’s the app that’s so pervasive that it’s achieved the Google-level status of becoming a verb. Venmo me. With no transaction fee on debit cards and bank account transfers, Venmo has become the go-to app for transferring payments from person to person. Long before Venmo, there was PayPal. While PayPal might not be as popular among peer-to-peer transactions, one place where it has retained it’s glory is in the commercial sphere. Whether shopping online (or even at some restaurants), PayPal is the trusted medium of exchange. Then of course, there’s mobile banking. Nearly every large bank in North America (and some smaller banks), boast mobile banking apps, which make transferring money from person-to-person instantaneous. And that’s only the least of it.

Budgeting

Meanwhile, there are a slew of budgeting apps out there to help people save and spend more wisely. Goodbudget, Wally, and Mint are some of the biggest heavy hitters in the budgeting sphere. All three of the apps boast expense-tracking features which translate into spending and saving tips. Of the three, Mint is often viewed as being the most comprehensive–tackling everyday expenses, but also credit cards, student loans and retirement savings.

So with that quick sound-off, the question is, what are some of your favorite finance apps?

Top Trends in Wearable Technology

Ferhan PatelOne of the most exciting new markets emerging in the technology sector today is that of wearable devices. The Apple Watch and FitBit have proven to be two heavily covered examples of wearables with mass appeal, but smaller batch designs reveal that we have even more to look forward to.

Fitness Trackers

At this point in time, Fitbit and the Apple Watch have completely shaped what we expect from our fitness trackers. Monitoring our health can no longer be separated from our wearable devices. Instead, these are tools that we expect to be integrated into our wearables.

Pet Wearables 

Another interesting trend emerging in the wearables sector are those being developed specifically for pets. In 2014 it was widely reported that Americans had spent a record $56 billion on their pets. This speaks not only of american’s desire to care for their pets, but for a willingness to spend on their pets. Given these numbers, it’s no surprise then, that startups are comfortable entering the pet wearables space. A few great examples of these emerging products are those designed by WonderWoof and FitBark. These wearables monitor the fitness levels of your pooch, and products like the Tagg GPS Plus, GPS and fitness monitor not only track where your beloved pet is located, but also determine whether or not the pet’s body temperature is too hot or too cold.

Focus on Fashion

As wearables start to become more commonplace in the market, the aesthetic design will start to play an increasingly important role in the success or failure of the product. No longer are consumers simply looking for function. As more choices become available in the marketplace, the fashion behind these devices will become even more important. Many wearable companies are already soliciting the expertise of established design-based companies. For example, Misfit partnered with Swarovski to make a jeweled device. This line also included bracelets and pendants merging the commitment to wearables as statement pieces meant to reflect the person wearing them. Sony sought out advice from both Ted Baker and Roxy for their line of smartwatches. Instead of being simply “wearable” these new devices must also be fashionable.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been a symbolic harbinger of futuristic technologies for years. However, we are now at a point where sweeping advances in technology and design are making Virtual Reality a truly unique experience. Currently in wearables,  virtual reality is being expressed through sleek head pieces that look like typical headsets with optical displays. Not only is the experience for the user more immersive owing to the quality of the tech within these devices, but the actual devices are getting smaller and less obtrusive.

Wearable cameras

Given the selfie-craze and compulsion to share everything, it’s no surprise that wearable cameras are undergoing major pushes in design and function. GoPro is leading the way with mountable cameras that can truly go anywhere. And products like the Narrative Clip 2 are providing a wearable camera that livestreams video. The Narrative Clip 2 embeds the technology of a camera into stylish sunglasses. The types of innovations within this field seem to grow by the day, but It’s difficult to predict which of these devices will take off. It was once indicated that Google Glass would take us to the next frontier in the wearables landscape, but that didn’t quite happen. Even with the threat of failure, or unreached potential, there is also the possibility that any of these new devices could revolutionize how we view cameras and wearable devices.