Future Shock: Personal Finance Technology

03/24/2014 03:38pm ET | Updated May 24, 2014
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If you are feeling a bit jaded about the promises of technology to transform your personal finances, you are not alone. Since Al Gore invented the Internet years ago there have been seemingly endless broken promises. Promises about how new technology would magically make all of your money problems disappear. Hmmm, uh not so much. That is, until just recently. Now it seems, our time is here. Rapid and innovative technological advances are completely changing the world of personal finance.

A look back
Before we get into these changes in personal finance technology, let's take a moment and see how far we have actually come. If you will, follow along and step into our Wayback Machine for just a moment. Take a short trip backwards in time, to say like the late 1970s into the early 1980s. If you can remember or even if you can't, there was a time when Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were new and innovative. Can't you just see Grandma walking up to an ATM and staring at it with a puzzled and frustrated scowl on her face?

OMG, how far we have come. Yet, as you probably know, (to borrow from a popular lyric), it's been a long and winding road. After ATMs, we were promised all sorts of exciting possibilities like virtual bank accounts, remote banking and more. However as you have seen, early promises were fast and furious, but the delivery has been a bit delayed.

Yet thankfully, early promises of merging technology and personal finance is finally starting to show up and to show up in a big way. To make sense of these changes, let's begin with a good working definition of personal finance, just to make sure we are all on the same page.

A working definition
Personal finance is all about "the financial management needed by an individual or family to obtain, budget, save and spend financial resources over time." Wow, that sounds pretty dry and old school does it not?

How about a new definition for a new time? What if we define personal finance as the ability to manage your money or other financial resources when you want, how you want and where you want? Our new definition is exactly what the new personal finance technology is all about.

What's here right now? Start with something as basic as your checking account. As illustrated above, there was a time when you had to actually go to the bank; meaning like get in your car and drive to the bank branch to make a deposit. Wait, it gets worse. Then you had to shuffle inside and stand in line to hand over your money to a possibly surly or at least disinterested bank teller.

Nowadays? Snap front, click, snap back, click, deposit. That's it. Although not yet offered by all banks, mobile banking is increasingly seen by consumers as an expected service. Of course these mobile apps offer much more than easy deposits. You can check your balance and monitor transactions at any time and any place. Not to mention the option for mobile payments and auto bill pay. If your bank doesn't yet offer mobile banking you might want to ask, why not?

Banking is only one way technology is available now for your personal finance needs. Say goodbye and good riddance to the shoebox at the bottom of your closet. A growing number of online solutions to store your receipts are more useful and more convenient. Yes, you may be familiar with such solutions as Neat Receipts. But even Neat Receipts is starting to a little faded around the edges when you take a look at what's out there. For example check out solutions such as,, lemonwallet (now owned by Lifelock) and many more.

To the land of way beyond?
Beyond banking and beyond receipts, there is also a growing trend towards alternative payment solutions. First there was PayPal which lets you transfer money around the world. Yet now there are even more exciting technologies. Yes, these new technologies are still in the proving stages, but keep in mind the way technology advances show up in the real world.

Do you remember the early days of Paypal? It seemed so strange at the time. "You mean I can just send money to anybody around the world?" became the chatter online. Yet, from those early beginnings led to PayPal in 2012 processed $145 billion in transactions.

Yet even that may seem like chump change shortly with the advent of digital currencies. These currencies, like Bitcoin and others as seen here at may completely change our personal finance world.

Here is the bottom line: early growing pains aside, the promise of a true alternative payment system has many people excited. The most obvious benefit is of course the cost savings. By cutting out the middle man, you can end up saving a bundle on fees and surcharges the big banks like to tack on to money transfers. Additionally, these new payment technologies offer even greater convenience for consumers.

So what does all of this mean?
In short, it means we are already there. The promised land of technology transforming personal finances is here now. And get this, from here on out, expect to see ever more innovations and solutions. Think of it as sort of a Moore's Law for personal finance. The pace of innovations in personal finance technology is accelerating each year.

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