What’s Trending in Financial Tech?

Financial technology (“fintech” for short) has fads and trends like everything else. Digital money-transfer options are no longer limited to credit card payments, bank withdrawals, or even bank/store apps. While cryptocurrency has lost some momentum, peer-to-peer money transfer apps are thriving, including as third-party services for major financial institutions (for example, the Bank of America app includes a Zelle option).

Many people are suspicious of trends, and often with cause: not only do many apps prove short-lived, but cash-transfer apps are also “trending” as means of payment for fraudulent offers. The safest approach is never to follow this or any other trend blindly, nor to ignore everything “strange and new,” but to learn to discern what works for you.

Here’s some advice from two Easter Seals Greater Houston fintech experts.

Q: What financial skills should more people work on mastering?

Jenny Lopez-Martinez, Financial Coaching and Education Program Coordinator: Budgeting, especially as society continues to be impacted by inflation. People are ready to learn more about budgeting and managing their money.

Bradford McCrea, Financial Education and Technology Specialist: Budgeting, tracking, and managing your money. There is no way to improve your finances if you do not know where your money is going. However, these are all knowledge skills, and the #1 key to financial success is money behavior, not money knowledge. Without action, knowledge is immaterial.

Q: What are the most popular and effective financial apps introduced in recent years?

McCrea: There have been a lot of new financial apps introduced since 2021, but I personally recommend apps that have been established for longer, such as EveryDollar, Mint, and iXpenseIt. These are all simple to use and make it less intimidating to understand your finances, plus they’re constantly being updated and improved. I believe those are the three components that make financial apps really good to use.

Lopez-Martinez: I believe CreditWise is the most popular app, especially with people like our financial-coaching clients who are often working to rebuild their credit scores. Even though CreditWise only shows your vantage scores, it’s a useful app to monitor credit summaries and prevent identity theft—and it also gives quick notifications when there is a change on the credit score.

Q: How does the need for financial literacy relate to the need for digital literacy?

Lopez-Martinez: Since the pandemic, many more people are using apps for banking, and to track their money and credit scores. Both financial and digital literacy are very important for our clients. In our classes, clients learn the tools and different apps that help with budgeting.

McCrea: Financial literacy and digital literacy are pretty much hand in hand now. The days of pen-and-paper budgeting, check writing, and even paying bills by mail are almost obsolete. Even the way we pay for things has changed to a more digital environment. When I teach classes or speak to my clients, I encourage them to use proven financial apps and practice with new methods of payment, so they can feel comfortable using them, which ultimately leads them to use the apps in a more effective way to manage and (hopefully) improve their finances.

Resources for More Information on Financial Tech

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