It doesn’t look like things are going back to normal any time soon. As the coronavirus pandemic continues on, maintaining social distancing practices can be vital to keeping daily numbers down and flattening the curve. However, with an unclear timeline stretching out ahead, finding a new kind of normal is vital, not only for productivity, but to find some grounding in unprecedented times.
As we start to establish new routines, it is valuable to look at resources and services that can help. In this article, we take a closer look at the role fintech can play in helping you maintain both your work and safety while dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.
What is Fintech?
According to a Medium post written by Renaud Laplanche, CEO of Upgrade, “fintech is about using online or mobile devices to access financial services.” He goes on to say that, while most of the innovation in the industry can be attributed to startups, many of the more mainstream examples we see of fintech are brought to consumers through collaboration between banks and smaller companies.
When it comes to maintaining social distancing, fintech allows people to limit their in-person interactions and reduce trips to the bank while still completing the tasks that they need to.
Moving on from Cash Transactions.
As Laplanche remarks in his article, the global pandemic may lead to a wider adoption of fintech into everyday life.
One simple yet vital potential impact is the impact on using cash for transactions. Cash transactions have already been on the decline in the US in favor of cards or mobile payments, the vast majority of global transactions are still cash-based.
In the context of the pandemic, it’s easy to see why we would want to move away from cash transactions. Not only are cash transactions inherently in-person transactions, but the exchange of cash could result in exchange of germs.
That said, what about debit or credit cards? When not paying online, they may present a similar problem to cash. Though cards tend to have a lower risk of transmission than bank notes, you still run into the issue of in-person interactions and contact with surfaces. Services such as Apple Wallet or Google Pay – which are mobile wallets – or contactless cards could be the answer as access to and adoption of these services increases.
Lending Moves Online.
Getting a loan no longer requires that you walk into a branch of a bank. Besides convenience, online lending allows for a more impartial consideration process, “replacing human judgement with data-driven decision making.”
There are several loan services online, from Lending Club to Afterpay to Upgrade. Not only does this make lending accessible remotely, again reducing in-person interactions during the pandemic, but many of these services are shifting away from traditional credit and loan structures to help consumers stay on top of their credit and debt.
A Responsive Structure.
As a newer and inherently innovative industry, fintech not only provides options in crisis, but can respond more closely to real-time than more traditional industries. In his article, Renaud Laplanche outlines several areas where responses in from companies in fintech led to more change across the financial sector.
One such area is payment relief. Many Americans who have not been impacted directly by COVID-19 have been hurt by the financial struggles the pandemic has created, either due to cut hours, loss of income, or even loss of their jobs. The first card to provide payment relief (in the form of a one-month “payment holiday”) to their users was the Apple Card, with many credit providers following suit soon after.
In addition, many fintech companies have responded to the pandemic by adding additional features to their services, or providing tools to encourage users to support local or smaller businesses.
This is all still changing. As we learn more and the era of social distancing continues, countless companies and industries continue to innovate and respond to the new normal. In this arena, fintech is one of the most prominent, putting the innovation of the industry to good use.