Monday, June 1, 2015

The Coming Fusion of the Internet and Financial Services

The other day at work, an established customer came in to skate. I've known her about 20 years.  She's always been a financial services type, for both accounting and financial advice for individuals. I was surprised to hear she shut down her financial consulting service and so I asked why.

She said using the Internet required keeping up with technology, and that the standards and rules for her type of business on the web are becoming strict.

I pointed out the Internet wasn't made for financial services, or even for that matter, buying and selling of consumer items. Both financial services and consumer items require the secure passage of identifying information.

The Internet was designed in the late 60s to be a method to allow computers to communicate even in the face of war, when several computers could be out of touch with each other. In the ancient form,  the Internet enabled any computer to communicate with another, without encryption, or even testing to see if the other device was safe. Today, we need to be able to encrypt information and tell the system exactly who we are.

We've heard a lot lately about the FCC taking over the Internet. I think this development has a lot to do with ensuring people prove who they are with their real identity so they can buy things or use financial services via the Internet. In this era of terrorism, tracking money and people becomes more important. Additionally, many states passed laws requiring businesses to safeguard personally identifying information, or face fines.

Lately, I've seen coverage of several banks shutting down their branches. This is likely due to people using mobile banking to deposit checks. Phones tend to transmit a lot of data in addition to their uses on the Internet.

I think we can expect more intrusion on our Internet lives. When I sign up for e-mail now, I have to give a mobile phone number. I think this is a unique identifier.  Additionally, anytime you give credit card information you are also identifying yourself.

Instances of this are likely to get more prevalent in the future. Perhaps we will get chipped, but prior to that eventuality, computers will likely ask for bio-metrics. In the short run, we should expect fewer independent shops for financial services, as the government clamps down on fraud and the costs to keep up with technology and the ever changing Internet world increase.