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Top Four Fintech Trends for 2020

Fintech continues to make our lives easier and more secure with new and more impressive advances each year. I have noted a few trends for 2019 that seem to be making headway. Among them are increased applications of blockchain in conventional industries, a rise in digital assistants, consolidation of start-ups and faster payment processing. Three quarters into the year, we have witnessed these trends come to fruition. Blockchain is now used in real estate (including our very own Ducatus Property) and law with smart contracts. Some start-ups went into consolidation (e.g drone start-ups) to avoid closing. Paying for items was made faster by “tap and pay” systems. Also, digital (or virtual assistants) have increased in number and have become a fixture in homes (e.g. Alexa) and on smartphones. The new fintech trends have a great deal to live up to. Let’s take a look at the four top fintech trend forecasts for 2020. 

  1. More regtech solutions. Regtech is a combination of regulatory processes and technology. Financial institutions will implement technological solutions instead of hiring employees to handle compliance tasks. According to BBVA, investment in regtech within the financial services industry will increase 500% by 2020. 
  2. Fintechs and financial institutions will focus more on millennials. In the United States alone, millennials have taken the top spot as the largest demographic. Through automated services that help them purchase homes, pay student debt through their employers and start their own businesses, financial institutions and fintech start-ups are investing in their technology to cater to this demographic’s needs. 
  3. Paychecks are unbundling. Unbundling is when a product or service is taken apart so the consumer can pick and choose what part he or she wants from it. Payroll is the latest service to be unbundled. Fintech start-ups are offering customers flexible banking services, such as pay advances, early direct deposit and financial advice with paychecks. For example, Chime and Varo customers can get their paychecks up to two days before the scheduled pay date. 
  4. More artificial intelligence (AI) applications in banking. AI is reshaping the banking industry through automation and machine learning. Virtual assistants, mobile banking, chatbots, and fraud detection are some of the services that AI will enhance. This means 24/7 banking and quick interactions for customers. These applications will be used the front, middle and back offices of banks affecting everything from greeting customers to underwriting loans. 

The financial services industry will become even more versatile and accessible in the coming year primarily due to fintech startups. It’s amazing how technologically advanced banking has become, even in the past ten years. Fintech has created a new way of banking that saves time and money. Truly, those of us in this industry are looking forward to bringing more innovation to even more people in the years to come. 

Originally published at ronnytome.com on September 19, 2019.

The Top Four Wine Destinations

In my years of travelling, I have been on holidays designed around a cruise, a location or a specific occasion. Nowadays, there seems to be an increase in vacations designed around themes, such as food, adventure, and wine. Wine destinations have become very popular in the past ten years due to the increase in cooking and travel shows. Not only are the vineyards in beautiful locales, the wine selections are unsurpassed. There are a number of wine tour companies in Europe and in the United States, such as Grape Escapes and Wildwood Adventures, that cater to this travel niche. Those who go on these trips can be divided into three groups: wine lovers, sommeliers, and winemakers. They combined their love of wine and travel to create customized trips. Many of the vineyards are family-owned and offer tastings, vineyard tours, and fine dining. Below are the top four wine destinations that are known for their wines and accommodations. 

Tuscany, Italy — Italy certainly knows its wines, being the largest wine producer in the world. Tuscany is known for its Chianti and beautiful vineyards in addition to its beaches and mountains. You’ll enjoy the wine, food, and scenery while learning about winemaking, foods to pair them with and the history of the region. While in Tuscany, don’t miss out on experiencing its renaissance art, architecture, and museums. 

Bordeaux, France — France has earned its reputation as one of the largest wine producers in the world with eight billion bottles per year. This region is one of the three largest grape-growing regions, which has access to the sea. This enables it to be the most exported wine from France. It’s interesting to note that the region became the main supplier of wine to England when King Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152. Along with the wine venues, there is the Bordeaux Wine Festival and a museum dedicated to wine. 

Napa Valley, USA — In the United States, California produces the majority of wine and is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll find many wine country hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts that offer wine tastings and local vineyard tours. They are many to choose from, whether you are looking for luxury or rustic. Also, it is an hour drive to San Francisco, which makes for a great day trip. 

Douro Valley, Portugal — Known for its terraced vineyards, Douro Valley is famous for its port and green wine. Stay at one of the country estates to take advantage of wine tastings, tours, and harvests. According to The Vine Route, Douro Valley has the distinction of being the first demarcated wine appellation in the 18th century — a full century before Bordeaux’s 1855 classification. You can also take the train to Porto, where the port wine from Douro is cellared. There are also cruises to Porto that provide stunning views of wineries from the Douro River. 

Whether you choose to travel to Europe or the United States, there are several wine destinations to match your taste and budget. This niche vacation has become very popular and will continue to flourish as long as there are wine enthusiasts. Even if you don’t drink wine, the experience is still worth the trip!

Originally published at ronnytome.org on September 19, 2019.

Cryptocurrency in the Movies

Thirty years ago, many of the products that we can’t live without today were mere ideas or figments of the imagination. Back then, we had to go to a bank to deposit a check and wait a few days for the transaction to go through. We had limited choices when it came to shopping (off-line and catalog). We also had phones that were used for one function – talking to another person. In fact, some people’s concept of “high tech” may only have come from the movies.

In the movies, we saw fantastic devices that would one day become reality. For example, in Star Wars, we saw the hologram of Princess Leia and the time-traveling DeLorean in Back to the Future. Today, we have hologram tables and projectors and smartphones that perform a variety of functions (e.g. share content). We saw new forms of currency, such as electronic credits in Total Recall. And now we have cryptocurrency, which almost resembles the fictional electronic credits.  

These creations have now become our reality. It is commonplace to see them in today’s movies, and not even relegated to the science-fiction genre (e.g. action and adventure). Cryptocurrency is making itself known in the movies. There have been many movies (documentaries) about Bitcoin, illustrating the impact it (and cryptocurrency) has made on our society. There is a new movie to be released this year called Crypto, starring Kurt Russel and Alexis Bledel. The movie is about an agent (Russell) who investigates a web of corruption and fraud. The movie is a great vehicle to educate the public about cryptocurrency and how it is revolutionizing the way we make transactions. The movie also features a number of blockchain networks (e.g. Stellar), which will help the public better understand blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency has made its mark in last ten due to the various cryptocurrencies that have been introduced to the public, such as Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple. There is also the Ducatus coin, made by my company Ducatus Global. It can be used in our affiliate companies, from buying a cup of coffee to a home. We also have Ducatus Travel where customers who use Ducatus coins to book their trip will receive a discount. The purpose of cryptocurrency is to provide financial freedom, and to have choices in how we make our purchases. It will only be a matter of time when cryptocurrency will become as common as other currencies (e.g. American Dollar and British Pound Sterling) that appear in movies.

Originally published at ronnytome.com on April 1, 2019.