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NASDAQ Creates New “Fintech” Index as Interest in Finance Tech Grows

The fields of finance and technology are converging in big ways, and now, a new addition to the U.S. Stock Exchange is sounding the alarm loud and clear.

In some ways, it started with the smart phone — an easy way for people to do a lot more types of transactions right from a device they carry with them on a regular basis.

Commercial banks that consider depositor accounts a chunk of their business operations were blindsided by electronic payment platforms like PayPal. Now, there are smart phone payment technologies coming down the pike that are going to take even more market share away from traditional finance companies that have always operated mainly off-line.

This week, the U.S. Stock Exchange NASDAQ announced a major event that demonstrates the rapid emergence of something called “Fintech” — a portmanteau of the words ‘finance’ and ‘technology,’ Fintech refers to companies that operate in both finance and banking fields.

NASDAQ has added a Fintech Index that went live on July 18. The index tracks the performance of a basket of companies that use technology to deliver financial products and services to customers.

Business Insider describes the Fintech index as something that includes different kinds of companies using electronic data transmission for purposes like trading and payments. The collective market capitalization of these companies is around $78.5 million. The Fintech index includes PayPal as well as Visa and other smaller companies.

As for total investment in Fintech, Business Insider estimates that global investment totals were around $5.3 billion this year, up over 60% from 2015. Some of the major innovations getting a lot of attention from experts are related to new payment technologies — for instance, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin dominated financial news over the past few years, and a new financial ledger system called Blockchain is giving financial companies even more food for thought, as it emerges as a new way to keep the books electronically.

Experts are also touting of new technologies that bear watching — an article from Inc. magazine mentions WePay, a San Francisco company that processes credit card payments online, and Common Bond, a new type of lending marketplace that has refinanced over $100 million of student loans, as well as other of lending matchmakers like Orchard Platform and Kabbage. Interest in these types of services show how Fintech might be close to disrupting the lending industry in new ways as well.

Another Icelandic offering, Meniga, offers its services to banks in Scandinavia to help them to weather the storm of the Fintech advance. This could offer a future model for collaboration for companies that now seem to be working at cross purposes.

The addition of the new American Fintech Index is a big reminder that this new trend is here to stay, and that financial companies should start looking to innovate if they don’t want to end up as the dinosaurs of tomorrow’s digitally connected financial world.

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