When it came to technology, 2012 was not a year to scorn. Sure, the rest of the world’s economic outlook was looking about as rosy as the opening minutes of "The Addams Family," where Morticia's pruning rosebushes by cutting off the blossoms, but for some firms in financial technology, it was a big year, set to change the way we look at finances. Forbes called attention to five firms in particular, focusing on what they'd done in 2012 and how they may change things later.
First on the Forbes list was Kickstarter, a company that showed off just how much power the idea of getting a bunch of people together to kick in a few bucks for the sake of getting a product off the ground can go. One 3D printing company, FormLabs, managed to clear its Kickstarter goal of producing a new 3D printer in just one day, reaching over seven times its stated goal of $100,000 by the end of that first day. There's a lot of power in a piece of tech like that, and it's far from the only such story.
Forbes then took a look at Lending Club, which recently signed agreements with Oracle (News - Alert) to use Oracle's ERP Cloud Service in its operations. With that in place, this already powerful lending platform--which has already issued more than $1 billion in loans since its 2007 inception--should gain even more traction as it gets a better handle on its planning and budgeting systems, among a wide variety of others, and sees resulting gains in efficiency and data management.
Motif Investing, which offers investors the opportunity to invest with a theme, came in next. Not only is Motif seeing big investment coming in from various investors who want to take advantage of a simple way to invest in a particular "something"--one example was "Rebuilding after Sandy" for companies likely to gain in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Sandy--but also recently had some big gains from their own investors, bringing in $20 million with a funding round led by Ignition Partners.
Fourth on Forbes' list was Wealthfront, which offers a variety of Vanguard ETFs to meet the needs of individual investors based on risk profiles. Formerly called Kaching, Wealthfront is out to get the business of folks with a decent slug of money to invest, but not necessarily the kind of money represented by C-level titles or senior management. Designers, product engineers and designers were listed as possible targets for Wealthfront's services, especially for those who are less tolerant of risk in general.
Finally, Forbes tackled WePay, a company that offers online payment collection services, challenging the dominance of firms like PayPal (News - Alert). This is actually quite the tall order, so in a bid to help get some support behind its own operations, WePay moved to make a deal with Layered Technologies, adding its line of PCI (News - Alert)-compliant cloud services to WePay's own systems, improving the security of its online payments system while at the same time making the overall system easier to work with.
From crowd-sourced funding to different sources of investment and loans, it's clear that the world of finance is a much different place than it was even five years ago. While these changes will have a while to go before we can truly determine if they are ultimately for good or ill, the fact remains that they are here. What 2013 will bring in terms of financial technology is anyone's guess, but before too long has passed, we'll find out exactly what that is.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey