The Future of Money, the newest report from The Innovation Group, explores how finance and banking are being redefined. The past 12 months have been a watershed for the way people use money, and for the very way they think about it. The industry is blossoming, thanks to emerging technologies such as mobile payments and facial recognition, and this will in turn drive innovation further ahead.

A number of era-defining innovations have emerged—many of them long in the making—and their effects will be profound and long-lasting. Some of these changes are technological in nature: new products have appeared, aimed at making payment an increasingly frictionless, almost invisible, experience, carried out simply by tapping one’s phone, or even by smiling at a camera. Other shifts concern the wider finance and banking landscapes. Once the preserve of a handful of large incumbents, these sectors are now brimming with upstarts vying to cater to more tech-savvy customers.

Hero 2x
Google Tez

The Future of Money explores how the sector is undergoing a phase of ever-increasing decentralization, clearly exemplified by growing mainstream awareness about cryptocurrency. Further decentralization is also being engineered at a higher institutional level through the Open Banking legislation in the UK, which is sure to increase competition in a sector that is already ripe for major disruption. It may also set a template for other countries to adopt, prompting more far-reaching disruption and new models elsewhere.

Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology underpinning them will add more dynamism to the mix, providing alternative solutions for money transfers, and could be added to some fintech services as investment opportunities. The result might be a complete reinvention of the very idea of money and currency.

Stash App Mockup
Stash investing app
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WealthSimple campaign outside of Supreme flagship
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WeChat South Africa

To understand these consumer shifts across countries, The Innovation Group commissioned an original survey of 1,000 adults in the United States and 1,000 adults in China. This was conducted by SONAR™, J. Walter Thompson’s proprietary research unit. Key findings include:

  • 69% of millennials in the US and China hardly ever use cash anymore
  • Among those who have used a cryptocurrency, Americans have mainly used Bitcoin (86% US, 66% China), while Chinese consumers have also used other options (33% Ethereum, 18% Zcash, 17% NEM)
  • 76% of US and Chinese consumers want more diverse financial products that are better suited to their needs and lifestyles
  • 92% of US and 87% of Chinese millennials now prioritize long-term financial security
  • 40% of Chinese and 34% of US consumers say they would now interact with their bank using a smart speaker
  • 81% of consumers say recent data breaches make them worry about the safety of their own privacy and security
  • 76% of consumers in China and 65% in the US say ethical behavior has become more important when choosing a financial institution over the past five years; this is especially true for women.

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