For millennia, small business owners have been able to thrive in their relatively small, regional markets without mastering the most complex and advanced areas of business operation.

Yet, in the Digital Age, local mom-and-pops are being outcompeted by major corporations armed with the most advanced tech guiding every financial decision.

These days, it is essential for small business leaders to understand the principles of financial technology — and understand which technologies will aid in financial management and decision-making in the future.

Online fintech courses from some of the world’s leading finance and technology experts can help every level of business leader, from new entrepreneurs to established small business owners, leverage digital technologies to improve their financial capabilities. Some of the most promising digital solutions currently available and emerging in the fintech space include:

1. Cloud Computing

The cloud is the clever name for software, services and storage space accessed over the internet. The cloud is not exactly a new technology, but in the financial industry, adoption of cloud computing solutions continues to climb thanks in no small part to new and developing trends in cloud computing, such as:

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Edge cloud architecture. This is a method of decentralizing processing power to the edges of business networks to allow for the creation of larger and more intelligent networks.

Cloud container technology. Container technology allows clouds to run multiple workloads on a single operating system, which improves efficiency.

AI-cloud integration. Deep learning through artificial intelligence can continue to improve cloud services.

2. Open-source Software

Open-source software is software that is distributed with its source code, meaning that anyone can inspect and modify the code to customize or enhance it for distinct purposes.

This type of software, as well as software-as-a-service (software delivered over the internet), allows businesses to move and grow quickly as they are not hampered by entrenched and costly digital systems. Because the fintech industry shifts rapidly, having access to open-source software is smart for smaller businesses looking to compete with agility and flexibility.

3. Internet Of Things

Once heralded as the future of technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) experienced a period of cooling before regaining its prestige and potential as a useful business technology.

The IoT shows promise through smart sensor systems, wireless communication networks and operations support, all of which make it easier for businesses to monitor their performance. This has many ramifications in the financial sector, as it can help organizations report to government regulatory agencies, insurance providers, supply chain partners and more.

Today, business leaders can begin integrating the IoT through RFID tags, which are relatively low cost and high reward.

4. No-code Development Platforms

One of the most exciting developments in programming in recent years, no-code and low-code development platforms (NCDPs) allow developers to create applications using graphical interfaces instead of programming language.

While these platforms are currently relatively immature, they promise to give anyone the power to create applications without arduous training or expensive talent. Thus, financial services firms and businesses can work together to create bespoke applications that allow for effortless monitoring and communication.

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5. Blockchain

Blockchain has been heralded as a digital technology to replace all others, but in truth, it is hardly more complicated than an immutable digital ledger. Still, there are dozens of potential applications for blockchain within the financial industry. In particular, organizations can utilize blockchain to store records of financial transactions, which could make payment information more secure.

Additionally, businesses might use blockchain to broaden their digital investment portfolio with cryptocurrency or other valuable digital assets. Because financial service providers are apt to integrate blockchain systems in the coming years, business leaders should understand how blockchain works and why it matters.

6. Artificial Intelligence

Far from being a superintelligence intent on taking over the world, AI is merely a class of computer programs capable of performing tasks and steadily improving their performance without human intervention.

Already, some of the world’s largest banks rely on AI for various financial services, such as within the decision-making process for lending and as a tool for fraud detection and prevention. Soon, experts anticipate AI to be integral to the entire spectrum of financial industry operations, so the sooner small business leaders understand AI fundamentals, the better.

Small businesses need to make smarter financial choices as digital technology forces their markets to shift in unfamiliar ways. By understanding and adopting fintech, small business leaders can ensure the survival of their companies through the Digital Age.