Companies in almost every industry continually depend on technology to ensure they meet stakeholder needs and remain competitive in a demanding marketplace. The financial sector is no different. Below, we'll look at several ways the businesses within it are tapping into technology to achieve notable gains.

1. Empowering Customers to Prevent Fraud

A fraud alert from a bank tends to instantly make people panic and wonder about the damage done, but what if financial institutions could give customers the tools to prevent fraud instead of reacting to it? Some of them already are, and you can expect the trend to continue through the rest of this year.
N26 is a German-based online-only bank that offers numerous card and account features to prevent unauthorized use. Customers can activate them through a complementing app that responds to a fingerprint identification system.
For example, if you lose your card, you can lock it, order a new one and then unlock it if you find the original card. It's also possible to change your PIN and enable or deauthorize foreign or online-based transactions.
In the United States, Radius Bank, which describes itself as "online focused," debuted similar features for its debit card. One of them allows users to set spending radiuses and get alerts if transactions occur outside those boundaries. Also, you can receive notifications any time the card is used successfully or declined.

In addition to equipping customers with the tools they need to stop fraudulent use of banking services, it’s easy to see that these apps cut down on the tasks employees need to perform for clients over the phone. Instead of calling representatives to inform them they’ll be out of the country, people can just temporarily change the spending permissions associated with their cards.

2. Experimenting With Voice-Activated Technologies

Alexa and the corresponding Amazon devices are becoming so popular that organizations and brands are now using them to cater to customer needs. In Utah, government officials even made an Alexa skill to help people practice for the written portions of their driving tests.

With the knowledge that account holders often check their bank balances several times per day — especially before making large transactions — two Australian banks are helping them do that with an Alexa-powered device.

Westpac and National Australia Bank (NAB) are two of the most well-established financial institutions on the continent. Starting in early February, Westpac customers can ask Alexa questions about their credit card or account balances for the last 50 transactions, while NAB clients can check balances for their accounts as well as their loans.

Also, banks are rolling out opportunities for people to access their accounts by speaking instead of typing in passwords. At HSBC, customers have to say the phrase, “My voice is my password.” Then, the system reportedly analyzes 100 different human vocal characteristics to verify identity.

3. Digging Into Data to Make Informed Decisions

The rise of intelligent and efficient data collection techniques has made it easier for executives to track trends, anticipate needs and become aware of shortcomings. It's also true that in the banking sector, as well as in other areas, raw data gets transformed into insights.

Leaders of the finance sector can view data and gain a thorough awareness of whether there’s an identified need for a proposed customer feature. Strategic analysis can also aid in risk management and make business operations more productive. Furthermore, data-driven maps can reveal valuable details to finance professionals such as where most of a bank’s customers reside or how a bank’s clients conduct business in a given locality.

When financial professionals are aware of the value of data, they can minimize competitive threats and feel confident they're making sensible decisions that allow for progress.

4. Showing Interest in Artificial Intelligence

The banking sector isn't using artificial intelligence (AI) as frequently as other industries, but adoption is likely to increase through 2018 and beyond. That's due in part to how some leading banking brands are heavily investing in the technology. If the associated pioneering projects pay off, smaller financial institutions will probably follow suit.

Wells Fargo launched a pilot program for an AI chatbot that works on the Facebook Messenger platform and helps people retrieve account information or reset their passwords. Also, Bank of America introduced Erica, a chatbot that uses predictive analytics to provide financial advice. Citibank made a move into AI by financially backing Feedzai, a company that uses machine learning and AI for fraud detection purposes.

Plus, customers that use the Royal Bank of Canada can get AI insights about their spending habits. The technology reviews daily information about expenses and breaks the content down into categories. Also, it detects changes in the types of spending, giving people the knowledge needed to potentially make adjustments to their money-related behaviors.

A similar service from the bank predicts how much individuals can afford to put into savings. That information could encourage people to start reserving money for emergencies or long-awaited vacations.

These examples are just a few of the ways financial entities are evaluating and using new technologies. As their levels of adoption grow, it should become increasingly evident how these high-tech solutions and others can positively impact the industry.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet. When he’s not writing about technology, he enjoys reading, traveling and a good beer.