Although the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a few weeks behind us, innovation from the world’s most important technology conference continues to dominate headlines. Whether you’re a mere fintech enthusiast, working in the consumer technology space or running a business that needs to adopt cutting-edge technology, understanding the trends at CES is crucial to seeing ahead of the curve. And in the finance and fintech space, that curve has never been approaching faster.

In case you couldn’t make it to Las Vegas last month for CES, here’s a quick overview of some of the most exciting technologies hitting the finance space—some of which might be affecting the way you do business in the near future.

Hardware wallets and other crypto products

Multiple tech companies showed off devices that could store, trade and use cryptocurrency. In some cases, these products were big, bad versions of successful first versions. Crypto traders can now hold up to 100 assets in a single wallet with Ledger’s Nano X. Serious crypto traders can purchase a blockchain-based phone from Pundi X.

These products, alongside the presence of blockchain in cities across the globe, offered hints that naysayers shouldn’t have given up on Bitcoin and crypto just yet. Prominent crypto experts also held a session at CES 2019 and offered hope for the future of Bitcoin, even though some of them have experienced big losses and big drama. (And it’s worth noting that even if cryptocurrencies never make it back to their astronomical $20K value, their underlying technology, the blockchain, is already leaving a lasting footprint on the finance industry.)

Fintech and techfin: what’s the difference?

Let’s talk about the difference between the future of finances and the future of technology. Advancements in technology have traditionally been created to meet specific needs brought up by consumers or businesses. But as systems like blockchain have offered opportunities for many different types of industries, banks and traditional financial institutions find themselves needing to adapt.

The “Fintech Meets Techfin” session at CES described how specific technology—think AR, VR, AI, biometrics and other super-buzzy words—have helped to shape the consumer finance experience, and who pulls the strings. As the panel’s experts argued, in order for traditional banks and financial institutions to grow, they will need to embrace the marriage between fintech and techfin.

Advancements in virtual assistants

Let’s zoom into one example of how the financial industry has adopted new technology for the better. Banks are starting to use virtual assistants as a first stop when customers have questions or concerns online. As these assistants start to implement more advanced artificial intelligence, they can recognize and solve all types of problems in the fintech (and other) industries. So if you think that AI is just about burger-flipping robots, think again.

A major theme of CES 2019 was expanding the use of virtual assistants in our everyday lives. Both Google and Amazon displayed new products that were compatible with Cortana and Alexa, respectively. The companies were especially aggressive with showing off these smart home gadgets. Will Alexa be able to help you balance your checkbook and communicate more confidently with financial institutions in the future? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: Google and Amazon are betting big that the answer is “yes.”

Get ready for 5G

5G was a hot tech topic throughout all industries at CES 2019. The power and speed of 5G won’t just make things faster;  it will connect the mobile experience to the automobile experience to the everyday consumer experience. What does this have to do with finance? This advanced technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that consumers conduct transactions. Mobile banking is just the tip of the iceberg.

What will the future of financial technology hold, and how soon will that future arrive? From AI-driven virtual assistants to blockchain-enabled transactions (that you likely don’t even realize are powered by the blockchain), the financial industry is a hotbed for tech-driven innovation. The question is when, how and how deeply the financial institutions of yesterday will embrace what’s ahead of the curve.

Are you investing in technology to grow your business? Reach out to Cornerstone Capital Lending to see how our SBA, conventional and other loan programs can help you implement the technology you need to gain a competitive edge.