It’s been a big year for the financial industry! From Bitcoin making itself known to the high-profile Equifax breach, there have been many highs and lows. What can we expect going into 2018? In this article we’ll take a look at four emerging trends that will have a big impact on our industry next year.

Cryptocurrencies Continue to Make a Splash

You’re probably at least a little familiar with Bitcoin by now, and maybe some other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum (if you’re not, check out this blog to get up to speed), but did you know there are thousands of others out there? In 2018 we will continue to see the cryptocurrency market expand as more and more innovators experiment with decentralized networks. A decentralized network is one in which users handle their own transactions in a secure, transparent environment. Every bit of data has been vetted by multiple sources and is encrypted for extra security.

You will also start hearing more about ICOs, or initial coin offerings. While the ICO name is a hat tip to traditional business IPOs, the structure of an ICO is a little different. For a short time, consumers can purchase units of a brand-new currency in exchange for more well-known currencies like Bitcoin. This is a great way to get in on the ground floor of a promising new currency, but it can also be risky.

Be on the lookout, too, for how the government will get involved in cryptocurrencies. There will be rules and regulations – such things are inevitable in the financial industry. It remains to be seen how these will impact growth in 2018.

Big Leaps Forward in Payment Security

These days it can feel like your personal information is less secure than ever, with companies from Chipotle to Gamestop falling victim to hacks and breaches. There’s a critical need for security technology to get back ahead of the bad guys, particularly with respect to mobile payments. One way the industry is doing this is through biometrics. You can already unlock your phone with your thumbprint, and soon you’ll be able to pay that way as well. No more lengthy passwords for your digital wallets – just press your thumb on the reader and be on your way. Iris scanners aren’t far behind, either!

Digital Wallets Get Even Better

Digital wallets have already had a profound impact on how we shop and spend. They’re quick, easy, and extremely portable – and more and more businesses are starting to accept them. In 2018, look for digital wallets to make a big impact on the international payments scene as well. Say goodbye to costly and cumbersome currency exchanges while traveling abroad. Apps and software are already on the market to allow you to buy, use, and reconvert foreign currency without even the use of a credit card. Adoption won’t happen overnight, but once it does we’ll be looking at a whole new era in mobile payments.

Robots Managing Your 401(k)

Your financial advisor may be out of a job sooner rather than later. AI-powered robo-advisors are programmed to select and manage investments and already provide an efficient, low-cost option for many investors. Able to set up and start managing a portfolio in minutes based on risk assessment algorithms and mathematical formulas, robo-advisors are doing more and more and human advisors are finding it hard to keep up. We can expect to see even more growth in automated advising in 2018.

Stay Up to Date on What’s Happening

There’s going to be a lot going on next year, and you’re going to want to stay informed. Work with a credit card processing partner who is on the cutting edge and who takes your education seriously. 360 Payments fits the bill. We’re always learning about the latest trends, and we’ll keep you informed about them all year long. Give us a call at 1-855-360-0360 or drop us a line on our website to learn more.

PS – Read up on what the current tax reform bill would mean for your business.

PPS – Holiday shopping chaos got you down? Check out our guide to staying sane.