Of Smartphones, Algae, And 3D Printing

New hardware technologies are emerging, ready or not, and they’ll have an impact on credit unions.

John Best,a self-employed consultant and former chief technology officer at Wescom Credit Union($2.8B, Pasadena, CA) and its Wescom Resources Group tech CUSO, blogged in August about five technologies he thinks could change the financial services industry.

At the top of that list were algae-powered batteries. Such batteries can store more energy than current lithium batteries. That, he says, would enhance mobile devices viability as the primary avenue for financial management for those users.

Also on the list: beacons, wearable tech, nano technologies, and my personal favorite, 3D printing.

3D printing will change manufacturing, Best says. How long before we start 3D printing our own stuff? Soon we will be making loans for 3D-printed houses, cars, and other household items.

Another pundit, Dan Schutzer, now a consultant who was writing late last year as chief technology offer at BITS, sees financial institutions soon able to produce hardware such as authentication, encryption, and payment devices to their own specifications and with the click of a mouse. That includes USB dongles, smart watches, and Google Glass.

Such devices not only could make transacting with a financial application more secure but allow financial institutions to deliver branded hardware devices, rather than applications that are increasingly buried behind or inside larger software applications which are produced and branded by telcom and Internet companies, Schutzer writes. (Disintermediation, anyone?)

Of course, people pushing the envelope include the nefarious, and Schutzer notes that the new tools include the risk of crooks making such devices themselves, citing ATM skimmers as an example.

That doesnt tamper the excitement, though.

Could anybody have imagined that algae would be used for truly incredible battery storage or 3D printing doing the seemingly impossible just a decade ago? Best says. Maybe an extremely few forward-thinking people, yes. But for the rest of us, this is science fiction coming to life and well get to use it. Very exciting.

What possibilities do you see here? Do you find it exciting? Or just more stuff to deal with? As the price point for 3D printingcomes down, you and your vendors, who it would seem would be going first might find yourself having to decide, or at least react.

September 4, 2014

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