Financial technology, or fintech, is the intersection of finance and digital technology. While many consider it a recent development, it has actually been around for decades, beginning with the first ATM in 1967. Since then, advances in technology have allowed businesses to streamline service delivery and cut costs. This trend has continued into the current decade and beyond. As a result, today’s finance professionals need to be well-versed in fintech applications to stay competitive.

One of the most significant developments in fintech is that it democratizes access to investment and financial services. It does so by unbundling conventional offerings such as mortgages and investments into individual offerings for consumers and small businesses to take advantage of. For example, the advent of robo-advisors has significantly reduced the cost and increased accessibility of investing advice. Similarly, online discount brokerages have hollowed out the once-high-margin business of trading, while also lowering overall fees for investors.

Another area where fintech has dramatically changed how we do finance is with the rise of mobile payment platforms such as Square, which allows businesses to accept credit cards on their smartphones and “neo-banks,” such as Treezor, SolarisBank, which provide the banking infrastructure needed for financial services companies to launch their own digital banks. Another key innovation is blockchain, which provides a transparent way to share information on a network. This is used by cryptocurencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, and by open banking platforms like Mint and BankSimple.