The digital age has brought countless innovations that we all now take for granted. There is a never-ending selection of visual and audio entertainment, gaming, instant communication via email and messenger apps and social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But what the internet and huge leaps in technology have also brought is incredible changes to the way we deal with our money.
Just about every aspect of our financial lives can now be monitored and acted upon in real time on our smartphones, tablets and laptops. While being 100% convenient, the indications are that the revolution of digital finances has made us savvier about our money, and how we spend or invest it.
Online and mobile banking
The most obvious benefit is instant access to all our bank accounts, first through online banking and now, of course, via mobile banking. Banking apps are improving all the time, are secure, stable and can show not only all your account balances, loans and mortgage balances, but also all your transactions in real time. You can move your money around between those accounts and, as security has improved, make payments to other people or businesses at the touch of a button. Need to set up a direct debit? That’s no problem either.
This has made all of us stay on top of our balances. In the old days, unless you were really strict and kept a note of all your spending, the only way to get something as simple as your current account balance was to go into your local bank and ask, or request the balance from an ATM.
Digital payment gateways
Do you remember when PayPal first started, way back in 1998? Back then it was a true pioneer in offering a new way to transfer money from one person to another. But it took some time to get used to; there was mistrust over whether money was safe, while others who received payment via PayPal were initially confused about how to get their money (we all know how easy it is to withdraw now!).
PayPal and digital payment services like Stripe, GoCardless and others are now ingrained in our everyday use of the internet. We shop online using them, transfer money to friends with them, even set up regular payments. All this comes at a cost, of course, but losing a tiny percentage of every incoming payment is a small price to pay for this digital technology.
The financial trading sector has exploded in recent decades. Digital technology has added rocket fuel because it enables all of us to have a go and make some extra money. Where once you had to be a professional and trade across a dealing room floor to buy stocks and shares, now you can simply log in to your laptop, tablet or smartphone and trade instantly, not just in stocks but in commodities, bonds and Forex as well. Online Forex brokers offer slick trading platforms, with real-time price movements, analytical charting and more.
Cloud-based accounting software
We mentioned before that the digital technology revolution had made our personal finances so much easier to keep on top of. Well, the same applies to business finance. A small to medium-sized business can use companies like Xero, Sage or Quickbooks to keep all of their business finances under control. Merge your bank account feed into the app, send and monitor all your invoices, bills and cash flow information. You can also keep track of and do your expenses, run reports of your business’ finances, including the balance sheet and profit and loss reports. You can even sync up with your taxation office to pay taxes like VAT in the UK. All of this is cloud-based, meaning you don’t have to download software – you just access all your business accounts from the web, either on your phone or via the app. Simple!
You can now get online apps for your retirement planning. See at any time how much is in your pension fund, make overpayments and see projections about your forecast for when you retire. Such offerings from companies like PensionBee are ideal if you have more than one pension you wish to consolidate into one new plan. You can also make one-off drawdowns from your smartphone.
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