Big money chat centering on the likes of GDP and the national deficit will always dominate the headlines, but the issues around personal finance are never out of our conversations, whether real or virtual. The changing ways we use money, and the means by which we are taxed, remain crucial talking points for us all, and the future of banking is something that will, inevitably, affect pretty much everyone. It might be a good idea to stop and consider how these topics are shaping up at the moment, where they might be going in the near future, and how we can be a little better prepared for what may be to come.

Banks

In the banking sector, the day-to-day trends that we can’t help but notice seem set to continue, and we can, for example, expect more contactless payments and to use cash much less frequently. In addition, and sadly, our local banks are likely to get fewer and fewer in number across the world as electronic transactions burgeon.

The Rise of Fin-Tech

Many people lost trust in the banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Indeed, all the traditional financial services took a blow, and the rise of Fin-Tech (financial technology) appears poised to completely alter the way such services are to be delivered in the future. The banks, it seems, will have to learn greater flexibility if they are to survive the competition in anything like their current form. The challenge posed by Fin-Tech appears likely to edge out some of the more traditional financial institutions and lead to greater consumer choice. The further democratization of the delivery of financial services looks like a lasting trend.

Virtual Currency

A big part of Fin-Tech is, of course, virtual currency, which remains a talking point after the recent colossal rises in the value of bitcoin – the first of the cryptocurrencies – the transactions of which are validated by the electronic process known as mining. The question of cryptocurrency mining profitability is one that remains in circulation, attracting a great deal of attention. How such things develop certainly seems worth watching, and for quite some time to come.

Taxation

He didn’t originate the phrase, but Benjamin Franklin said that the only things we could be certain of in this world were “death and taxes” – a situation unlikely to change. There are constant debates about how much tax we pay and what rates of taxation seem equitable, which can lead to a degree of uncertainty that some retirement tax planning may do a lot to alleviate. Whatever happens, tax is unlikely to ever be off anyone’s agenda anytime soon, especially with the GOP tax plan in full effect.

As Gordon Gekko (almost) said, “Money never sleeps.” It thus pays to keep up with it and see where it’s headed. It wouldn’t, though, be a bad idea, for the sake of some peace of mind and to take a little of the initiative for ourselves, to get a step or two ahead of the stuff every now and again.

 

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