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It’s fair to say the ways in which we manage our personal finances are completely different now than they were thirty years ago. Arguably the biggest technological development during that time is the birth of the internet; it’s altered the way we behave on a fundamental level. Relationships, business, art, and every other facet of human existence have changed irrevocably thanks to the internet, and that includes personal finance management. Here are some of the ways the internet has changed the way we look at money.
Getting a loan is easier than ever
Before the advent of the internet, one would need to physically visit a bank or loan provider in order to acquire a loan. You’d need to manually fill out a lengthy application process or talk to someone on the phone in order to make your wishes known. Now, however, thanks to online processes speeding everything up, getting a loan can be almost instantaneous. Whether it’s £1000 loans or £10,000 loans you’re after, you can be sure there’s a lender out there that will let you go through the application process without needing to visit a physical branch location.
Apps help you budget
Smartphones are another major technological development that has changed the way we live. Thanks to phones and mobile internet, we can now manage our finances through the use of various different apps, all of which are available either via the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. These apps read our bank details, show us where we could make savings, and help us to understand the truth of our financial data. They’re essentially free (for the most part) financial advisers, breaking down our money for us and helping us decide how to spend it better.
You can check your balance online
You don’t need to stop at a cash machine or enquire in-branch about your bank balance anymore. Now, you can simply sign into your browser, input your information, and see how much money is available to you instantly. Not only that, but you can also get a detailed breakdown of your direct debits, your standing orders, and your statement, among other things. You can even set up new payment recipients and talk directly to bank customer service online, which eliminates a lot of middlemen and makes things much more simple and convenient.
Cryptocurrency is taking off
Many people are choosing to invest in cryptocurrency, which is a phenomenon made possible by the internet. Cryptocurrency is essentially a currency with no centralised bank; instead, ownership of crypto is verified by the blockchain, a security protocol that checks your name against a massive database to ensure that you are the rightful owner. The investment potential for crypto is massive, with many professional investors choosing to put their weight behind currencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin. It’s likely more types of cryptocurrency will spring up in the future, too.
You can file your taxes online
It’s arguable that the internet has given rise to an increase in entrepreneurship and self-employment. This is because many resources that were once hidden behind costly or inaccessible “gates” are now readily available to anyone, theoretically opening the floodgates and allowing anyone to start a business. There’s little doubt that the internet has made it easier for these business owners to file taxes and get their finances in order; thanks to the internet, owning and operating a business is much, much easier and less of a headache than it used to be.
You can pay for things using your phone
While it’s technically possible to use Google Pay without being online (provided your bank supports this, of course), it’s less of a headache to use it while online, and adding a card to the system requires a connection, so this should be counted as a financial innovation made possible by the internet. Google Pay means you can leave your card at home; provided you’ve got your phone with you, then you can pay for anything up to the current limit the service provider allows. This can be incredibly convenient if you’re travelling light and don’t have much room for anything besides your phone.
Shopping is mostly done online now
By the time we reached mid-2019, the UK’s online shopping component accounted for around 20% of overall retail sales. That should stand as a testament to the popularity and power of online shopping, and while it may not overtake its physical counterpart any time soon, it’s definitely true that online shopping is incredibly popular. This ties directly into how we manage our finances; many online shops accept direct payments from platforms like PayPal, and they’re often able to store payment details to make things easier the next time we make a purchase from them.
PayPal makes sending money easy
PayPal is a convenient system for sending money to friends and family, and it works entirely online. You can simply forward cash to the intended recipient, without paying fees and without worrying about getting your data stolen. PayPal encrypts all of your card information, so nobody will ever be able to get their hands on your financial information if you pay through PayPal. This is a simple, straightforward method for sending money, as are any number of the alternatives available out there right now, and it’s all possible thanks to the fact that we’re all connected to the internet.
The full list of ways in which finance has been changed by the internet is too long to include in any article, but these are just some of the ways the world of money management has been altered forever. Did we miss anything? What’s your favourite online innovation in the world of personal finance?