The world of commerce has changed. Not only are people turning to digital distributors more and more to buy everything from clothing to groceries, but consumers are also demanding immediacy when it comes to payments. No longer does a 3-5 day waiting period suffice when it comes to transferring and receiving payments. Traditional payment structures cannot keep up with the rapid pace of a mobile first, always-on lifestyle. Luckily, FinTech (Financial Technology) upstarts are taking matters into their own hands and pioneering a new age in payment and digital commerce – one that prioritizes speed and transparency.
As Charles Hearn, CTO of the FinTech firm Alloy notes, there’s a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and banks that are prioritizing innovation. Simply put, if customers are not satisfied with a payment structure, they can (and will) find alternative services that can accommodate their shifting transactional preferences.
However, often finding new ways to enhance and progress these relationships often get sacrificed, because, as any entrepreneur knows, disrupting the status quo demands a significant investment of time and resources, not to mention, the conviction that pioneering a new approach will pay off in the end. But taking the status quo approach is the quickest path to failure. Luckily for consumers, the FinTech industry is largely committed to pushing the realm of digital and mobile transactions beyond what was and, even, is considered possible.
Under the tutelage of Charles Anderson, Currency is one financial disruptor innovating how businesses facilitate customer buying experiences. Currency Capital began as a mobile lending startup, specifically targeting equipment financing and helping small businesses revitalize their offerings by securing much-needed loans. While equipment financing continues to be a pillar of Currency’s offerings, the organization’s CurrencyPay product is aimed at providing entrepreneurs and small business owners with another business functionality: seamless customer payments. Currency recognized that while securing adequate equipment financing is essential to the survival of businesses across industries, up-to-date equipment is not enough to remain competitive in today’s landscape.
Essentially, CurrencyPay intertwines every payment option into one product, all the while aiming to keep rates low for merchants. And as interchange fees racked up to be over $22 billion for merchants in 2010, Anderson is looking to help combat this problem one transaction at a time.
We recently sat down with the Currency CEO to pick his brain a bit on how the current state of FinTech and payments are drastically changing, and what the future holds.
“When you think about it, FinTech is really the wild west right now. There’s seriously a revolution happening. A lot of what was true in the past isn’t applicable anymore, which is why we’ve seen such an increase in funding towards this sector.”
According to CBI Insights, since 2014 FinTech has seen a steady investment growth fueled by venture capital firms. In the VC world, trending industries come and go; interests in new concepts and technologies can be fleeting, but it seems that a focus on FinTech is here to stay. “Part of what makes FinTech such a great bet is that it’s here to stay. Take something like virtual reality, for example. People are excited about it and want to learn more, but it’s a new technology. No one has ever really used in a practical setting. Versus with payments, that’s something people have interacted with their entire lives. It’s nothing new, just the medium is changing” Anderson stated.
According to a survey conducted by Pew, 46% of cell phone owners have used a form of mobile payments in the past year. It’s true that technology is vastly changing the way we behave with our money, but for Charles and co., they’re looking forward to it. It’s difficult to predict with certainty how changing consumer behaviors and cultural norms will give way to new technological needs and developments, but one thing is for certain: immediacy, transparency, and security will continue to drive customer interactions at an exponential rate, and only the businesses that can adapt with those pillars in mind will survive in the long run.
As Currency continues to find new ways to enhance their CurrencyPay product, they never lose sight of the value of immediacy. “I know it sounds kind of silly, but we really believe that when it comes to supplying financing for someone’s business, they don’t have time to wait. And why should they? We’ve created the technology that accurately allows us to approve someone without the hassle, saving both sides time and money,” said Anderson.
And even though Charles didn’t delve too much into their secret sauce in identity verification and underwriting, he did let us know where he thinks this technology is headed, especially in terms of consumer trust. Ten years ago, the public would have raised their eyebrows at the idea mobile lending providers or social payments, but today, our lives run on the speed that our mobile dependencies provide. Even with past security breaches, the public is still open and willing to rely on mobile platforms to facilitate transactions. This does not mean, however, that an increasing consumer comfort is equivalent to blind trust. FinTech organizations, like Currency, are hyper-aware of the sensitivity of their products. As Anderson stated, “When you break it down, you’re dealing with someone’s money, something they work hard to get. To put that in the trust of a complete stranger can be a scary thing, which is why we need to make products secure and intuitive.”
Overall, while growth in the overarching industry has been steady over the years, Charles believes that there’s still a long way to go and every organization in the space has to continue to find new ways to create solutions that are as streamlined and secure as they are engaging and finding this balance is the key to the future of FinTech success.