It’s hard enough to figure out what to do with our money and when. A simplified banking experience is what every customer wants at the end of the day – and the leading banks are well-aware of this. Yet, to reach the point of delivering a delightful experience, banks must make sure that cutting-edge technologies make life easier – without creating security risks.

Breakthroughs in financial technology are making it easier for folks today to make sense of the complex and continuous job of managing our assets. For example, video banking is playing a major role in the digital transformation of banks around the globe, in a time when they are striving to be innovative – letting us chat remotely with our advisor from anywhere.

Bank customers’ expectations are changing – soon, connecting to our banker via video chat – from our smartphone or laptop – will be the new normal. Video chat is a great example of how banks are using the latest technology to help us maintain a personal, face-to-face relationship with our banker, while letting us bank conveniently, without disrupting our work/life balance.

Banking Quote 300The goal of making banking simple for customers is challenging in a space that is as tightly regulated and delicate as finance, on both the commercial and individual levels. From security to devops, blockchain, AI and more, today’s top trends in fintech reflect a universal need for speed, flexibility, transparency – and stability plus safety – all at the same time. We spoke with Julie Muhn, a research analyst at Finovate (Finovate conferences showcase cutting-edge banking and financial technology,) on what to expect in 2017 and beyond. Founded in 2007, Finovate spotted early on soon-to-be trendsetting companies such as Mint.com and Lending Club. Here are the trends that Julie sees as the most important to understand right now:

What are the biggest trends in Fintech today?

First, artificial intelligence and machine learning: there are a few primary reasons for this. While the first is obvious, it’s one banks are hesitant to admit – computers don’t ask for a salary, paid leave, and health insurance. By substituting a computer to do work that a human usually does (to crunch numbers or answer simple customer service questions, for example) financial institutions can save costs.

These technologies enable banks to meet customers in channels where they already are, which improves the customer experience. This, in turn, is not only beneficial to customer retention but also facilitates customer acquisition.

The application of these technologies appeals to millennial customers. By drawing in a younger customer base now, banks stand a better chance of serving them in the future when they are more valuable clients. It’s the same reason we’re seeing fully-fledged advisory services launch robo-advisor platforms – it’s like training wheels.

Second, the use of the blockchain for KYC and identity purposes, as well as for real-time payments: there are key pieces about the blockchain– it’s secure, it works as a permanent ledger, and it records data in real time–  that make it the perfect record to use for identity verification and rails to use for payment in real-time.

Finally, the API-ification of banks: the increased availability of open APIs allows banks to offer their customers better tools and higher security. And because many APIs consist of only a few lines of code, it can take just minutes to integrate very powerful solutions.

What challenges will have the most dramatic impact on our system moving forward? 

One of the biggest challenges that has (and will continue to) impact the entire fintech industry is security. The increasing rate of malicious hacker activity both in finance and across the web is alarming. Security and privacy concerns work against the industry by making consumers nervous about adopting new technologies. It also impedes the ability for both incumbent and new fintech players to launch new solutions. Overall, hackers have stunted the growth of fintech and will continue to do so.

Vidyo specializes in video banking – what do you think about video chat for banks? 

From a consumer perspective, in a world of chatbot banking, video banking is king. When a customer is able to talk with a real person through complex account issues or complicated retirement or tax questions, frustration is minimized and the customer experience is enhanced.