The transformative effect of the Internet stretches across every aspect of people’s lives, including the way in which people think about and manage their finances.
An obvious and everyday consequence of the Internet as far as finances go is the gravitation of banks toward the provision of online banking. Convenience is the watchword in this respect, with bank customers able to view their accounts online and move money into and out of their accounts without the need to queue in a bank branch.
Another benefit of the Internet in terms of financial management is the emergence of comparison websites, allowing users to get the best deals on a whole range of products and services, from insurance to flights. Undoubtedly, many companies have been forced to up their game in terms of the value they offer, knowing that consumers can access price comparisons and potentially better deals at the click of a button.
Managing finances means keeping an eye on more than what is going in. Payments out are a critical aspect of personal financial management, and payments out center to a great extent on the payment of bills. From credit card providers to utility companies, organizations have put in place online payment platforms, enabling customers to pay their bills in a convenient and timely fashion.
The Internet has also helped level the field for smaller players in the finance sector, allowing those companies with a previously smaller reach to leverage their resources better and market themselves to a much broader customer base than they could previously target. A good example of a smaller financial company using the Internet is Ontario Auto Loans, which helps clients establish or re-establish their credit ratings in order to obtain the necessary finance to purchase a car. The website guides customers through the auto loan process and lists an inventory of vehicles for potential buyers to browse through, showing in the process the ability of companies to harness the Internet for the purposes of establishing a convenient and customer-friendly, one-stop-shop platform.
The future of Internet financial management centers to a degree on payment solutions and the search for alternative platforms. The best-known online payment platform is probably PayPal, which, in 2014, was responsible for the movement of a total of $228 billion in 26 different currencies and across more than 190 countries. PayPal has certainly been a pioneer in the development of alternative payment platforms, but the Internet is also enabling the next step in alternative payment solutions with the development of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin. With digital currencies, the most obvious benefit to the consumer is the removal of banks and other financial institutions from the equation, meaning big savings on fees and surcharges. The convenience is another benefit of using digital currencies.
To conclude, the Internet has become such a ubiquitous part of people’s lives that it is hard to believe there was ever a time, before the convenience of online banking or digital payment platforms, when queuing at a bank counter during lunchtime was a part of many people’s daily routines.