2019 is almost over and 2020 is nearly upon us. As expected, the world is continuously changing with new trends emerging and others dying out.

Here are 6 global trends for 2020, in no particular order.

Fintech in the Driving Seat

Business models will be driven more and more by fintech in 2020. Traditionally, entering the financial services industry was difficult, but fintechs have been finding ways in and disrupting existing status quos. This trend is, of course, driven by improved technology and adoption of such technology. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are also contributing towards this trend.

Blockchain Coming of Age  

Real world financial services organizations are now beginning to implement and use blockchain for their day-to-day business. Euro Exim Bank, for example, uses blockchain and cryptocurrencies to settle global trade payments through its partnership with RippleNet. This trend will only grow stronger in 2020 with blockchain ultimately becoming an essential part of the IT and operational infrastructure of major financial institutions.

Banking Further on Digital

Banks have been adopting digital service channels and mechanisms for decades now, however, through 2020 and beyond, we are likely to see these businesses leaning far more towards digital. The role of physical branches is already in transformation, going from transaction-point to touch-point; a place for support, advice and human assistance rather a venue for transacting. Already, banks worldwide are reporting in excess of 50% of transactions arriving via digital and so it’s a no brainer that the trend towards digital will only further strengthen.

Robotics & AI

Financial services providers are already using robotics and AI to address pressure points, reduce costs and mitigate risks. But with robots becoming more and more advanced, and AI technology continuing to improve, it is possible that we may see the first customer service robots arrive on the scene in 2020. Of course, the first iterations are likely to be limited in their ability but over the next 3 to 5 years it is reasonable to expect further evolution of the technology and after that to see rapid increases in capabilities.

Increasing Cyber-Security Risks

Cyber-security risks are likely to further increase in 2020 and beyond. It is already one of the top business risks, especially for financial services. A 2016 survey by PWC found that 69% of CEO’s were somewhat or extremely concerned about cyber threats. The threat of a cyber-attack is only exacerbated by the following factors, which will only become stronger in the future: reliance on 3rd party vendors, rapidly involving complex technologies, cross-border exchanges of data, increased use of mobile technology by customers, rapid growth of the internet of things and heightened cross-border information security threats.

The Asian Century

As we move into 2020, it’s only becoming clearer that we are witnessing the Asian Century. Asia is emerging as a key centre of technology driven innovation. According to figures published by PWC, Asia’s middle class is projected to grow by 180% between 2010 and 2040 and, at some point in 2020, the majority share of the population considered to be “middle class” is expected to shift from North America and Europe to Asia Pacific. Huge opportunities will open up in Asia and it will be the place to be for business in the medium and longer term, particularly for financial services.

What is ultimately clear though is that, along with increased risks and changing market environments will come abundant opportunity for trade, commerce and growth for all. Technology is levelling the playing field across the world and this will only spur growth and innovation in 2020 and beyond.