Eye scans that predict future illnesses, thought-recognition technology and digital clothing are all just around the corner
Less than 20 years after the first online banking service launched in Britain, we are approaching a time when eye scans, thought-recognition technology and digital clothing are likely to feature heavily in our day-to-day finances.
Experts say technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that the way we manage our money will be unrecognisable in as little as 10 years’ time.
We spoke to innovators at the cutting edge of this new technology, which is often called the “Internet of Things” or the “Internet of Everything” – the web’s powers spreading beyond it’s usual space. We asked specifically about how all this would change the way you save, budget and spend in 2024.
Managing your money
“Aggregation” platforms are popular in the United States, but have been slow to take off in Britain.
The platforms gather information about bank accounts, credit cards, savings, loans, mortgages, insurance, pensions and employee benefits in one place, allowing you to view your total wealth with a single login. They also display pie charts of where money is spent, down to how much you pass over the bar each month in the Dog and Duck.
Some will allow you to set financial goals and track your progress, factoring in additional spending or gains.
In Britain you cannot carry out transactions on these platforms, but this is changing – new European legislation will make sure customers can share secure information, such as banking logins, with these services and still expect fraud protection from their bank.
Ian McKenna, a director of the Finance & Technology Research Centre, said aggregator services fall into three categories: those available directly, through a financial adviser and through an employer.
“LoveMoney.com, Money Dashboard and Moneysupermarket’s On Trees are the three largest direct services,” he said. “Currently they are broadly similar, focusing around providing a better understanding of, and enabling more effective management of, consumers’ bank accounts.”
Financial advice firms and employers are increasingly making aggregation services available. These factor in information relating to long-term financial products such as Isas, savings and pension plans, or corporate benefits. Examples include YourWealth.co.uk’s MoneyHub and Aon’s Bigblue service.
Huge advances are expected in the technology that powers these platforms over the next 10 years.
Tobin Murphy-Coles, commercial director of Aon, said that within a year shoppers would be able to log on to the platform from a shop to see their “safe to spend” limits, helping them to stay on track with long-term financial goals.
Toby Hughes of YourWealth.co.uk said that in five years this would go a step further.
“If you want to buy a car, for example, you will be able to see how buying it in cash or on a card will affect your finances overall, and compare this to loan options from different providers,” he said. “You will also be able to check the price of the car across different outlets to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
“Similarly, if you’re about to go overdrawn, the technology will present you with a list of options to borrow the money, from dipping into your overdraft to taking out a loan, with information about how each option will affect your overall wealth.”
Jackets replace wallets
In the short term, payment cards will be replaced by mobile phones. This has already begun with apps such as Pingit and Zapp. But then “wearable technology” will take over – you will use a watch or even your jacket to buy and to access accounts.
“It won’t necessarily be a device with a screen,” Mr Hughes said. “They are already developing digital paper, and there’s no reason why that couldn’t be woven into clothes, for example, which then displays information when required. Google Glass, a pair of computer spectacles, already uses vibrations to transmit sound through bones into your ear. It could eventually be possible to send images directly to the eyeball.”
Other wearable devices will track biometric information (pictured below) that shows stress and anxiety levels, said Mr McKenna. “Companies will use this to figure out when you are best placed to make good financial decisions and time the delivery of information so you are most receptive.”
Thought-recognition technology – software that can read your facial expressions and understand your emotional state – could also measure your grasp of complex financial products.
Technological advances in health-care screenings could transform the way we buy insurance. Health insurance could be replaced by health “assurance”, so, instead of insuring against a broad range of possible illnesses, screenings will detect the exact health problems you are likely to face. You will then buy cover for those outcomes.
Jay Sales, an innovation strategist with VSP Global, a California-based eye-care company, said: “Your eyes can give you a huge amount of information about your overall health. Illnesses such as diabetes can be detected through eye scans years before they fully develop. We are moving towards a world where your glasses will perform a daily eye scan that measures your health.”
Motor insurance will also become more tailored. Insurers already use “black boxes” to track willing drivers’ speed, braking and mileage to help set premiums. Take-up is limited, though – well under 10pc of drivers have a “telematics” system installed.
A number of insurers are launching hi‑tech products this year that will record more detailed driving data, such as the number of journeys taken, the time of day the car is used and driver behaviour.
They say that within 10 years all drivers will be required to have tracking technology. It means that if you take a dangerous route or drive through an accident black spot, for example, your premiums could instantly be pushed up.
The end of banks?
Even today apps such as TransferWise are challenging banks by allowing people to send money abroad for a fraction of the cost. Peer-to-peer websites, where investors lend directly to borrowers without a bank’s involvement, are storming ahead, with competitive investment and loan offerings that give customers better value for money and more flexibility.
The City regulator has said it expects the peer-to-peer sector to provide a much larger proportion of financial services in future.
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