How to Deal With Emergency Situations Abroad Like a Pro

Travel Safe Travel Well

Who doesn’t love going on holiday? It’s a chance to get away from the routine of everyday life, unwind and relax, have new adventures and work on that tan. Planning your trip is a happy, exciting time, so the last thing on your mind is something going wrong.

Unfortunately in today’s world, terror attacks are on the rise giving us a stark reminder that anything can happen at any time. In addition to these types of dangers, you also have to think about the possibility of crime, falling ill and natural disasters.

While you can’t know if these things will happen to you, a little planning helps you be prepared if the worst happens, so you can cope like a pro.

Being a Victim of Crime

Having your money or passport stolen can be a nightmare when abroad. Unfortunately, tourists stand out and are targeted. If this happens to you, report it to the local police with as much information as possible. Depending on where you are, you may get a crime number to use with your insurance providers when making a claim. The next step is to contact the local embassy who can get you an emergency passport and advise on other situations.

If you are traveling with others, you have the safety net of borrowing cash and clothes from them. Traveling alone is a bit more challenging if you have everything taken. Your best bet is to always have a backup credit card or an alternative to have cash wired to you from a relative or a friend.

Don’t make yourself stand out by wearing shiny, expensive jewelry. Take care of your belongings at all times and don’t wander off, leaving your bag unattended. Make sure you have a picture of your passport stored on your smartphone. A smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 can be used to translate a foreign language by using one of the handy translator apps.

A Terror Attack Happens

The chances of this happening are slim, but with the rise of extremism around the world, these situations are happening more frequently. If this happens in an area you are traveling in, stay alert to updates on the news and focus on staying calm.

Prepare by having your local embassy’s numbers stored into your phone and written down. Know basic phrases in the local language or have a translator app stored on your phone. Sign up to receive travel alerts to your phone. Signing up to the smart traveler enrollment program will keep you in the know about any current situations where you are and could arrange evacuation assistance when needed.

You Become ill

Being ill when on holiday can be awful, but if you are prepared, you can minimize the stress. Make sure you have any repeat prescriptions you may need as finding the same in a foreign country can be hard or even impossible.

Purchase medical insurance before you travel and make sure you have copies of the policy and ID cards within easy reach. Research where local doctors are in the area you are staying in and check travel forums for any insight to their reputation. Make sure you have all the relevant travel vaccinations to protect you against any local diseases.

 

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What Millennials Can Learn from Boomers about Retirement Planning

Boomers retiring by the tens of millions each year.

How many times have you heard it said, “If I only knew then what I know now…” about everything from financial planning to raising kids? It’s likely that you’ve heard it at least several times a week and now even millennials are becoming tuned in to the problems besetting boomers as they age and retire.

The world is a much different place than it was, even a generation ago, and so it would be wise for the younger generation to look at some of the trials and tribulations of boomers as they begin retiring by the tens of millions each year.

Insufficient Planning Delays Retirement

One of the major problems that many boomers face is that they didn’t plan sufficiently for their future. They assumed their Social Security check along with that 401k or other retirement investment would be sufficient to provide for them in their senior years.

Back a few generations, there simply weren’t the resources to plan well for retirement and today’s retirees are learning that they should have planned better. Today there are financial products that are aimed at growing wealth for your senior years and these are the products millennials should be investigating when seeking to invest in their own futures.

Unexpected Rises in the Cost of Living

What it all boils down to is that no one really expected the cost of living to skyrocket as it has. Some attribute it to the cost of production, keeping prices rising while others attribute it to higher taxes and the increasing cost of fuel and food. For whatever reason, the cost of living has far surpassed the rise in wages and this is something no one could have foreseen but perhaps should have planned for anyway.

Avoid Borrowing against Retirement Savings

Another one of the big mistakes boomers made, almost across the board, is to have borrowed heavily along the way against their retirement savings. This is a big problem that millennials should learn from. If at all possible, don’t delete those savings! Find a way to finance what you need to pay but leave that money where it is so that it can continue growing.

You know what they say about good intentions, so don’t be caught in the ‘intend to replace it’ trap. Chances are you will never replace that money once it has been spent. Just as you think you’ve got your head above water, another crisis surfaces and so it goes. Put that money away and forget it’s there. That, perhaps, is the biggest lesson you can learn from boomers.

The Logic of Downsizing Early

When it comes to downsizing once the nest is empty, altogether too many people fail to liquidate assets early enough. That big six bedroom home you live in and raised your children in may be sentimental but now that it’s paid off, sell it, buy a smaller property and invest the profit made from the sale.

Too many middle age people hang on to the family homestead thinking to save it for the kids, or to have a place for them if they need to come home. It’s time for grown kids to be grown kids. Think about your future by downsizing as soon as the nest is empty. Can you imagine how that amount of money can grow over the course of a couple decades until you are ready to retire?

Diversify Your Investments

And one final thing which millennials should learn from boomers is that they failed to diversify their investment products early enough. Altogether too many people lost their savings with the economic crisis of a decade ago and now those boomers simply don’t have enough time to recover their losses.

By diversifying your retirement investments, you can have that added bit of protection if one market should fail. The last time it was real estate that led to a global crisis. What will it be next time around? No one knows so diversify, unless of course you are a fortune teller and can predict the future.

The intelligent millennial will take a good look around them and fully understand the predicament most boomers are in now as they face retirement. It is always good counsel to be told to learn from your elders, in both their triumphs and failures, but never more so when planning for retirement. Don’t fall into the same trap your parents and grandparents fell in. You can learn a lot from boomers if you care to open your eyes. Plan now and live comfortably later – a great investment strategy altogether.

 

 

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How Blockchain Is Transforming The Online Gaming World

Blockchain and the Impact on Transforming The Online Gaming World

Blockchain technology has certainly taken over every domain of digital transactions. It has revolutionised the world of cryptocurrencies and has given everyone around the world a new platform to do online transactions. The Blockchain technology has definitely exceeded expectations and has reached new heights year in and year out; the tech has even lengthened its reach and can even be found in the online gaming world. In fact, it has made quite an impact in gaming and it should be very interesting to see how Blockchain will revolutionise the gaming space.

Private, Legal, Low Cost and fairly accessible Option

Cryptocurrencies have managed to find their way into the casino industry and in doing so its expanded its status. An increasing number of online casinos have introduced cryptocurrencies as a main payment or as a substitute payment method. The great thing is that these forms of payment are safe, accessible and well documented which further strengthens the reputation of cryptocurrencies. With the use of cryptocurrencies these gaming companies allow their members to remain anonymous and give them a piece of mind knowing that it is extremely safe. Cryptocurrencies also make it easier because gamers and gamblers don’t run into any difficulties with regards to financial documents or setting up an account.

Reduces Fraud and Loss of Revenue

Fraud and a loss of revenue is relatively widespread on the internet and this is really unfortunate. Studies have confirmed there were approximately two million online fraud incidents reported in 2017, with the general belief being this number is only the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain technology has ensured the extermination of fraud and revenue loss which will save the online casino industry billions every year.

Developers are creating Blockchain driven games

Blockchain has created many games but it has taken their technology to a new extreme. Developers have created Decentraland which is a virtual reality platform which is powered by Ethereum Blockchain. Decentraland allows people to own different pieces of land which you are free to do whatever you want to with. With this so called ‘digital real estate” players are able to access an entire new platform that has businesses, services and social activities.

Ensures more equality in the online gaming industry

Most players have the idea that the house always wins but that is no longer the case thanks to Blockchain. The majority of gamblers have accepted the fact that they would most likely lose more often than not, but Blockchain has created equality in games. Smart contracts, cryptography and Blockchain technology have all worked together to develop a system which has ensure that there is equality in any games that contain their technology.

Therefore, it is clear that the Blockchain technology has had a significant effect on the online gaming industry. Blockchain technology has given this industry room to flourish and has also made the online gaming industry a much safer environment to get involved in. This technology has also improved payments, betting and encouraged the creation of new types of games.

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MoneyGram is on the Decline

MoneyGram International, Inc goes by the ticker MGI on the NASDAQ GS. At the time of writing (November 2018), MoneyGram stock was priced at approximately $4.40 per share. For the year-to-date, MoneyGram stock has declined from $12.28 per share, shedding almost $8 in 2018. The company’s market capitalisation is currently $245.46 million with no price/earnings ratio and a -0.56 earnings per share. The 1-year target estimate price for MoneyGram is $6.25. It is noteworthy that MoneyGram traded as high as $15.54 over the past 52 weeks, indicating that there has been a significant downgrading of investor confidence and performance in this stock.

 

MoneyGram International Inc is a money transfer service with HQ in Dallas, Texas. It offers international money transfer services with locations all over the world. According to Zacks Investment Research, MoneyGram stock is no longer the darling of investors in the money transfer services industry. There were several reasons why the stock capitulated, notably fundamental weaknesses in its money transfer business which comprises a substantial source of the company’s overall revenues. More importantly, MoneyGram faces a slew of challenges from up-and-coming start-ups, online money transfer services and other FinTech operations. At a time where the industry was growing at a rate of 6%, MoneyGram was plunging in double digits.

 

2018 has seen many online money transfer companies come into their own. The volatility of the FX market is but one of several reasons why MoneyGram transfers are losing market share. Governments around the world are placing increasingly stringent regulations on money transfer services, and pricing pressures have come home to bite. Besides for increasing costs of compliance vis-a-vis governance structures and regulations, MoneyGram is having to shelve out millions of dollars which is eating into its bottom line with sharply decreasing growth prospects. Overall, lower remittance rates have resulted in weakness in many Middle Eastern markets for MoneyGram, notably Saudi Arabia. In Africa, MoneyGram has suffered from decreased market share when Nigeria reduced the permitted allotment to just 50% of what it previously was. As a result, stock prices are generally weak and market share is slacking.

 

How Are Competitors Eating into MoneyGram’s Market Share?

International money transfer companies like World First and HiFX are starting to dominate the online money transfer industry in a big way. They are but two of many FinTech operations now coming into their own. When it comes to money transfer companies, a growing number of people are choosing these money transfer companies over established banks and financial institutions.

 

Analysts are of the opinion that MoneyGram is losing market share to these up-and-coming online money transfer service companies. According to International Money Transfers – a leading reviewer of money transfer services – HiFX/WorldFirst comparison charts present many interesting facts and figures, notably:

 

  • World First is a privately-owned enterprise (operating since 2004) with offices across 5 continents. It features 75,000 active clients, and growing. This online money transfer service currently offers 121 currencies, with no fees on transfers, except for small transfers which cost $10.
  • HiFX is owned by Euronet, and is headquartered in London, UK. While this money transfer services company does not offer as many currencies – 5 dozen pairs offered, it accepts clients from across Australia and Europe. The fee is £9 per transfer, and it’s fully regulated by the FOC, FMA, and FCA.

 

There are pros and cons to each of these services, notably that WorldFirst does not offer FX options and is markedly smaller than HiFX. From the other side, HiFX lacks transparency on rates, and is a little clunky in terms of registration. There are mixed reviews on the services offered by HiFX and WorldFirst, but the majority of customer feedback has been positive.

These companies are proving to be a thorn in the side of market giant MoneyGram. As more clients shift to WorldFirst and HiFX, the drip, drip from MoneyGram becomes a slow and steady trickle to alternative online money transfer services.

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Things You Should Know About Buying a Franchise

5 Things That You Should Not Ignore When Selecting the Right Franchise

 

There are thousands of franchise systems today to a point that business owners are confused on which one to buy. The basic factors to consider should include; cost, lifestyle, and skill set although you may consider other things. Despite all these, there are things that you should never ignore no matter the industry.

  1. Consider What Motivates You

We all have different things that motivate us, and you may want to buy a franchise in order to have a more comfortable life. There are franchises that will fit an eight-to-five job, there are those that will fit round the clock and there are those that will fit working at some specific times. Consider what motivates you before getting a franchise.

 

  1. The Size of the Territory the Franchise Covers

As a business or a startup owner, you need your business to grow over time. You do not expect to be stagnant, and that is why you should never ignore, the size of your territory. Some franchises are limited to regions, others to square mile while others are limited to single towns. Be well informed about the territory the franchise you are planning to buy is limited to.

  1. The Opportunities in a Specific Location

Never ignore what is in a name and do not be carried away by the highly rated opportunities. Remember you need to consider what is of great importance to you as a business owner then focus on it. Popular brands come with a cost which maybe too much for you for a start. Check out the franchises that are not in that specific area instead of focusing on big brands. You could find one of the best business opportunities in this.

 

  1. Your Comfort with the Franchise

This is a business that you will be engaging in most of the times and in every job, you need to be happy. Never ignore the comfort you get when you are choosing a franchise. You do not want to be unhappy every time you are working or you think about it. The Franchisor’s culture is wide and thus you should find one that you are comfortable with.

 

  1. The Final Cost of Making the Franchise Profitable

Cost is always a factor in most investments. There is what it costs to buy a franchise, and there is what you invest to make profit. Never ignore the final cost of making your franchise profitable as this was your initial mission. Get all the costs involved from the franchisor and work on your budget. When you decide to run your own business, you need the best franchise for that. No matter the industry you are venturing into, cost, your comfort, your motivation and the opportunities at hand should not be ignored.

 

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How Financial Technology is Creating Growth Opportunities for Small Businesses

Changing the Way Small Business Are Financed

One of the major problems many economies have had to deal with is that which concerns catering to the needs of small businesses in a changing business environment. The traditional model of new companies turning to banks for finance was limiting for most entrepreneurs.

Small business owners found it unbelievably hard to secure funding through a bank, with loan requests being declined for reasons ranging from insufficient collateral to economic concerns, and everything in-between. This made survival difficult, never mind expansion.

Thanks to new fintech firms, small and medium businesses can now access cheaper alternative financing and grow. The innovative ideas and new developments brought by fintech companies have changed the business sector and made it easier for startups to navigate the financial services landscape through the following ways:

Advances

Fintech enables small businesses to get the funding they need to expand. Peer-to-peer lending sites such as Funding Circle, LendGenius, and Kabbage provide microloans for business owners that often have difficulty finding lending support. This helps make it possible for small businesses to carry on their operations unhindered.

The requirements for getting approved by these companies are less restrictive than commercial banks. Fintech advances also attract lower interest rates, involve little to no paperwork, and do not require collateral. Add the convenience that they offer on top of that, and you will see just how far financial technology has brought us.

Expense Tracking and Electronic Invoicing

Another way that fintech removes the barriers that small businesses encounter when they try to expand is that it provides them with reliable expense monitoring solutions that are flexible enough to allow them to meet their business needs.

Fintech firms like Sage offer tools with which small-sized businesses can monitor all the money coming in and going out of the company’s accounts. This helps business owners to understand how much money is in the business at any point in time, as well as how that money is being spent. When a business can have a clear picture of its finances in this manner, it will find it easier to make informed financial decisions.

Further, fintech enables small businesses to automate invoicing, simplifying the accounting process as a result. This helps entrepreneurs to not only deal with cashflow challenges but also to maximize efficiency.

Provision of Digital Payment Options

Before now, one of the major problems for businesses that operate on a small scale is how to send money across international borders. The procedures for sending funds across borders was long and tedious. As a result, it discouraged clients from buying from overseas businesses. Fortunately, payment solutions like PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, Skrill, etc., now make it easier for small business owners to accept payments globally. This enables businesses to achieve international growth, as any customer can pay for items regardless of their location.

Last Word

Fintech has contributed in no small measure to helping small-sized businesses to drive revenue and grow market share in a tough business environment by addressing the market failures that they encounter.

The ease with which organizations can access funding, track expenses and conduct business have significantly enhanced their ability to keep their finances in check, achieve growth, and measure results effectively.

 

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Record Rise in Online Gambling in China

 

For Mr. Li, the penalty kick taken by Cristiano Ronaldo in the Euro 2016 groups match between Austria and Portugal was a huge moment. He could barely watch is since he has placed a bet on Portugal to win. Ronaldo hit the post and the game ended in a draw, leaving Li frustrated for losing his money. He had placed his bet using the WeChat app by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

This is a good example of the rising interest in the world soccer, and this has also increased the cases of illegal online gambling. This has seen the police crack the whip on betting rings and other gambling companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent. Most of the internet gambling in China is illegal.

 

Chinese Tycoon Acquires English Soccer Club

Li placed his bet through the WeChat app, where most of the gamblers are friends. When you win, the prize money is shared through various channels like Alipay, WeChat, bank transfer or the red packets, which are envelopes that are loaded with cash.

The police record shows that there has been an upwelling in online gambling activity, which is illegal, especially due to the upcoming UEFA Football Championship in Paris. The Public Security Ministry has confirmed that across the four provinces, it has apprehended 236 people for illegal online gambling on UEFA games. To this effect, Tencent and Alibaba have set up anti-gambling systems.

According to Miranda Shek, a spokeswoman of Ant Financial said that they have been conducting serious checks and if any suspicious account is discovered, it will be frozen right away. Tencent has also confirmed that it is keeping a keen eye on any illegal gambling activities.

One of the reasons that have triggered the surge in soccer gambling is the soccer investment by the Chinese companies in overseas clubs. There has been an increase in the number of soccer stars who are moving to China. An assistant professor, Hu Naijun, from the University of Science and technology in Beijing, said that besides the European Cup, the soccer market in China has developed significantly. This has increased the interests in betting.

 

 

Reaching for the Gold

Mr. Bao is an organizer of a gambling group, and he confirmed that there is a jackpot of 5 million Yuan. This is causing millions of people to bet, hoping to win the cash prize. He said that this has become a lucrative business and for the final, they may even spend a week in the presidential suite in Hong King or Macau.

As for Li, he says that his money is, still, on Portugal, who has qualified for the Euro 2016 semifinals. He says he watches the game being nervous at every chance. When Cristiano missed the penalty, he almost fainted.

 

 

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Payday Loan Improvement: Has Regulation Truly Made A Difference

Payday Short Term Loans That Make Sense

Payday Loans were created to ease the financial pressure that workers face before they receive their pay cheques at the end of the month. The short term loan would be paid directly into the worker’s bank account before they were expected to repay in full, with interest, when they eventually received their pay. The type of loan came under much scrutiny, with critics citing that it made it too easy for a vulnerable person to ‘over borrow’ and therefore, face long term financial hardship. It was as a result of this condemnation, that a series of laws were introduced in an attempt to regulate payday loans.

We’re going to explore those very laws and examine whether the regulation made a difference.

Which Regulation Was Introduced?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was the organisation responsible for the regulation introduced into the payday loan market.

The first action the FCA took was to introduce a cap on interest rates charged on loans, which were frozen at 0.8% per day the amount borrowed. There was also another condition added, that no borrower should have to pay back more than twice the amount of their original loan.

They also regulated and reduced the fees that payday lenders could charge for arranging a loan, as well as introducing a cap on the borrower default fee, meaning that if a borrower failed to meet the conditions of their loan, they could only be charged a maximum of £15.

The FCA’s final ruling was that each payday lender had to list their loan rates on at least one price comparison site to prove their legitimacy, as well as improving competition and price transparency within the market.

Did The Regulation Make A Difference?

These interventions went a long way to making the payday lender industry far more legitimate; however there is still room for improvement which was detailed in a report published by Citizens Advice.

They found that after the caps and regulation were introduced, that borrowers were far less likely to find themselves in extreme financial difficulty, provided that they communicate to their borrowers that they were having trouble repaying their payday loan.

The 44% of borrowers who were experiencing difficulty in paying back their loans, but actually spoke to their lender, managed to agree a more affordable alternative repayment plan.

This statistic illustrates two points; the first is that lenders are more than happy to provide alternative options for borrowers provided that they tell them they are experiencing problems. The second, however, is that more than half of borrowers are unwilling to voice their concerns regarding repayments, due to the fact they perhaps feel embarrassed or ashamed at their inability to repay their loan.

Therefore, while payday lenders have clearly improved their methods for making loans easier to repay, work can still to be done in regards to the line of communication between lender and borrower.

Ultimately, it’s clear that the payday loan industry has evidently improved after regulation, however it’s still not perfect, and things can still be done to better the industry for both lenders and borrowers.

 

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How to Buy Bitcoin – Wall Street

Smartphone with Bitcoin chart on-screen among piles of Bitcoins. Bitcoin trading concept.

Virtual Currency

We were already impressed about a decade ago, but today we can see that cryptocurrency has come a long way since then. Digital currencies are becoming much more widely adopted, and it is never more apparent than when you look at bitcoin, the first, most well-known, most accepted, and most commonly adopted cryptocurrency out there.

The virtual currency, which was created in 2009 by an individual (or group) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, has seen a repeated rise, fall, and resurgence yet its influence remains. Given its importance and popularity, it makes sense that it is the go-to digital currency for people joining the crypto-craze.

If you are looking to get into the cryptocurrency game, this comprehensive guide provides the necessary guidance on how to buy bitcoin.

Before You Buy Bitcoins

To buy bitcoins, you first need to get yourself a bitcoin wallet to store the tokens you will be purchasing. Bitcoin wallets are applications that have been specially designed to store bitcoins in much the same way your bank account stores your traditional currency.

Besides holding bitcoins, a crypto wallet is used to send or receive bitcoins from other users. The most popular wallets you can use to store, send, or receive bitcoins include the Ledger Nano S, Trezor Wallet, Electrum Wallet, Coinbase, MyCelium, Xapo, Blockchain.info, among others. These wallets provide you with different levels of security, storage, and access options.

How to Buy Bitcoin

That said, some of the best exchange platforms to buy bitcoin from include:

Purchase Bitcoins on Cryptocurrency Exchange Platforms

One of the ways to purchase bitcoins is to use a cryptocurrency exchange. A cryptocurrency exchange platform is an online portal that lets you buy, sell, or exchange cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for other digital currencies or central bank issued currencies like the US dollar or Euro.

These platforms automatically merge a buy and sell order without market participants knowing each other. Exchange transactions are completed instantly. One of the main factors to consider before choosing an exchange platform is your location. This is because some exchanges are not available in all countries.

There are many ways you can buy bitcoins. You can choose from the following:
  • Coinbase: Coinbase is one of the world’s most popular digital currency exchanges with over 20 million accounts in its care. The platform lets users buy, sell, store, and trade cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Bitcoin can be purchased using debit or credit cards at a fee of 3.99%.
  • Coinmama: Coinmama is a worldwide exchange that lets you buy bitcoins with debit or credit cards. The platform charges 6% for every purchase made.
  • io: This platform allows you to buy bitcoins through a variety of payment channels including credit card, SEPA transfer, ACH bank transfer, AstroPay, and even cash. CEX.io charges a low transaction fee of 0.2%.

Other platforms you can use include Gemini, Kraken, Bitstamp, Changelly, etc.

Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs offer a fast, secure, and convenient way to purchase bitcoins. To buy bitcoins via an ATM, all you need to do is insert cash into the machine. After that, you will receive a paper receipt containing the codes and instructions on how to send the funds to your bitcoin to your wallet.

Alternatively, you can scan your mobile wallet QR code to have the funds transferred directly to your wallet. Purchasing bitcoin on these machines attract between 3-8% commission on top of the standard exchange price.

LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer service which matches bitcoin buyers and sellers. The platform, which also provides an escrow service, enables buyers to transact face-to-face with a local seller. To enhance privacy, LocalBitcoins allows you to purchase bitcoin in person without linking identity to an exchange.

Trades can also be carried out over the internet, provided you and the seller agree. Transaction fee varies between 5-10% depending on the seller you’re dealing with. This amount is paid in addition to the original exchange price.

Gift Cards

Another way to buy bitcoins is to trade gift cards for bitcoins. To do this, buy a gift card from any retailer, then log into a bitcoin exchange platform where gift cards are accepted (such as LocalBitcoins, Paxful, etc.) to complete the transaction.

Conclusion

Buying bitcoins is fast and easy, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the popularity of the token. However, we advise that you do your research thoroughly before you proceed to buy bitcoins, especially if you are using gift cards. This will help you avoid fraudsters looking to cheat and con you out of your money.

 

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How Banks Can Reimagine their Business Processes to Deliver Real-Time Personalized Banking Experience

Global Financial Services

The global financial services sector is on the cusps of significant disruption, with fantasy technologies like AI and blockchain fast changing the way banks operate and deliver services to clients. More so, the emergence of financial technology (fintech) and regulatory technology (regtech) firms who continue to muscle into financial services has created a digital race of some sort in the industry.

Along with robo-investors, digital banks have been launched to help individuals transact as fast as can be imagined, and they are making a difference. The disruptive momentum of fintech vendors is helped by a growing population of tech-savvy consumers who expect personalized services.

The customer-focused nature of these new breeds of tech startups has made traditional financial institutions realize that they are at risk of falling behind in the innovation race unless they acquire transformative technologies that will enable them to keep up with advancements in an ever-evolving business environment.

Reshaping the Customer Experience by Leveraging New Digital Tools

To deliver real-time, personalized banking experience to clients, businesses need to address significant customer pain points as well as identify new ways to satisfy them in differentiated ways. Today, we live in a generation where people are never far away from a smartphone.

To put this in perspective, 87% of millennials never separate from their mobile devices, according to a report. Another report says customers use mobile banking apps 7,610 times a minute. Also, 70 percent of consumers who own a smartphone prefect transacting from their phones. These make mobile one of the most clear-cut ways to differentiate.

To meet client needs in this digital age, banks must do their due diligence to appropriately integrate digital tools such as live chat, self-service, mobile, and Omni channel support and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence into their processes.

Ways to Optimize the Customer Journey Experience

Information gathering is key to improving the customer journey. To deliver banking services in real time, banks first have to have enough data to make informed decisions. This requires gathering deep customer insights so that institutions can get a better sense of their needs, which can be achieved by investing in systems that recognize every customer irrespective of the platform used.

That said, here are the ways banks can improve banking experiences for consumers:

  1. Improve the account opening process and make the onboarding experience efficient

An exceptional account opening experience can help banks earn customer loyalty and remain competitive. To this end, institutions are advised to make the account opening process faster and provide robust mobile account opening services to make it easier for today’s connected customers to open accounts on a mobile phone. The more straightforward the process, the better the customer experience.

  1. Consider a user-friendly authentication solution

A complex authentication system can get customers frustrated. Institutions are advised to consider authentication solutions such as those based on one-time passwords, as they offer robust security and are user-friendly.

In addition, less intrusive technologies like Facial Recognition, Touch ID, and Iris Scanning are other effective solutions institutions might want to consider.

  1. Embrace the disruptive potential of AI-powered chatbots

Chatbots are some of the fascinating stories in fintech. It wasn’t so long ago that they were nothing more than automated answering agents. Today, they help address customer complaints, thanks to their ability to engage consumers with their intelligence.

Implementing this innovation will help financial institutions lower cost while improving the customer experience by providing personalized, always-on service. This is the future of Banking.

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