Money has gone digital in countless ways and it’s changing the way people view and manage cash. From payroll through investing, here’s a quick look at the latest developments and what the future may hold.
Historically, paycheques have genuinely been just that; slips of paper that needed to be taken to a bank and deposited. This isn’t so anymore, as a huge percentage of businesses now pay their employees with methods like direct deposit or even via platforms like PayPal. While it seems like a minor shift, it changed the entire landscape of work and how people earn, paving the way for more remote work and the gig economy.
There’s now a huge variance in pay cycles. As workplaces shift to the contractor model, people performing work are often treated more like vendors and receiving pay a month or more after work is completed. A great many have moved in the opposite direction, too, providing same-day digital pay for work. Experts say going digital also makes it easier for employers to use software that tracks their payroll expenses. The tech behind it is getting smarter, and AI may soon be able to tell organizations how to reduce their payroll, when to hire, and when to cut, effectively performing many HR duties as well.
Newer research shows that about 90% of consumers have accessed online banking and the majority does so on a regular basis. With the rise in online spending, fast access to balance information is the primary reason to visit, but paying bills online comes in second.
There’s some debate as to whether consumers are shaping banking practices or if emerging diversity in options is changing the way people bank, but millennials, in particular are tapped into the digital world, shopping for chequing and savings accounts online at roughly twice the rate boomers are, visiting physical branches far less, and refusing to be tied down to their financial institutions. Most are willing to switch to eliminate fees or better rewards.
With younger generations leaning toward digital cash, “neobanks” have risen in popularity. These online-only institutions tend to keep costs lower and are designed for the digital native, plus offer services the typical bank does not, such as budgeting assistance. A flurry of apps promise the same and link into a consumer’s various accounts, providing a broader picture of financial health than most banks can do alone.
Research suggests that equal access to tools like this may be breaking the poverty cycle because it levels the playing field for those who wouldn’t otherwise have a financial education and makes it easier to save.
Borrowing and Investing
The switch to digital has changed the way people borrow and invest too. Much of this is driven by millennials, who are far more likely than their counterparts to shop online for financial products and search for the best rates or features. However, the digital shift also changed the landscape of lending with a boom of marketplaces emerging. Many involve traditional lenders and stack them against one another, though alternative lending, such as the peer-to-peer models.
Some experts say this is a concern because it may diminish the perception of the value of money, much in the way chips at a casino can become intangible, which could lead to poor spending and investment decisions. However, others point to levelling the playing field and contend that automated processes that force people into better investment habits can help people grow wealth when they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Online shopping is growing at a steady pace, with mobile shopping accounting for half of all online purchases and roughly one-third of all purchases during the last holiday season in certain parts of the world. Online grocery purchases, both via websites and apps, are up as well.
Voice assistants, such as ECHO, are also getting used more. Although people are slow to adopt the tech, 16% of those who do are using them at least once a month to complete an order. This takes things in a whole different direction, because not only is no physical cash being exchanged, but, no visual indicators of the transaction occurring either.With so many recent advancements, ranging from PayPal to Apple Pay and even newer tech such as rings that connect with smart POS devices, it’s difficult to say what the future holds. However, it’s clear coins and bills are headed the way of the dinosaurs. “Ten years ago, six out of every ten transactions were cash. Now it’s three in ten. And in just another decade, it could be as low as one in ten,” says Forbes fintech expert Daniel Döderlein. It’s no longer a question of whether the shift will happen, but when it will and whether systems will be in place to ensure cashless societies are responsible, informative, and inclusive.