On this episode of the Zing podcast, we sat down with John Rampton, founder and CEO of Due.com, to discuss a few of the exciting things happening in the world of financial technology, or FinTech as it’s more commonly known.

We talked about everything from online budgeting tools like Mint, to the future of money transfers.

A lot of things are happening with FinTech right now, more than we could cover in just this short podcast. Check out a few other products that are changing the industry and our lives.

Acorns

Investing can seem pretty intimidating when you first start out, but there are several products on the market that are breaking down the walls that keep people from investing.

Acorns is one of those apps. If you’re looking for an easy way to start investing, this is a great place to go. Acorns is an automated portfolio management company that will invest your spare change on everyday purchases into a diversified portfolio of manageable ETFs (exchange trade funds).

It works by rounding up. For example, if you bought a coffee for $3.50, Acorns will round that up to $4.00 and invest that extra $0.50. If you want to build your investment portfolio a little quicker, you can schedule reoccurring amounts to set aside or invest lump sums into your account. To further customize your investments, you can choose what kind of portfolio you want on a scale from conservative to aggressive investments.

Signing up is easy and only $1 a month for accounts under $5,000 and .25% a year for accounts over $5,000.

Robinhood

If you want a little more control with your investments, try an app like Robinhood.

Robinhood doesn’t manage your stocks for you, but it does allow you to trade stocks for free – which is nice since it can cost up to $10 every time you want to trade through other brokerages.

Robinhood’s free trading might be the biggest draw, but they’re also fast, provide you with real-time market data and send you notifications for things that happen in advance, like earnings, dividends or splits.

Even better, Robinhood is completely free! Instead of charging you for the service, trading stocks and interest like other brokerages do, they earn money by collecting interest off of those who upgrade to the margin account and customer’s uninvested cash balances. They make note on their website that they’ve also raised $66 million from multiple sources that helps them keep costs to customers as low as possible.

Tada

Tada (owned by Intuit, the same owners as the popular TurboTax) is a new product that quickly and easily files your state and federal taxes for you from the comfort of your own home. The process is pretty simple. You answer a few questions about yourself (it should take about two minutes), take and upload photos of your documents and then in just a few hours, a licensed tax professional will complete your tax return and send to you to review and approve. It’s that easy.

One particularly interesting feature you’ll notice with Tada is that all the questions are answered through a chat feature.

“One of the emerging trends in FinTech is to deliver an ‘assistant-as-app’ for money-related things, like budgeting or tax preparation. These ‘invisible apps’ create an engaging conversation with users through SMS or app-based messaging with a combination of artificial intelligence and people.

“For example, Tada collects and prepares a person’s full tax return by messaging back and forth. The user answers questions like ‘Do you have any kids?’ by simply tapping Yes or No on the screen. The goal is to make having your taxes done by a pro as simple as texting with your friend,” says Justin Marr, the Chief Design Strategist at Intuit.

Tada is rather inexpensive, too. It’s $20 for simpler tax filers and goes to $40 for more complicated tax returns.

Student Loan Hero

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and VP of Strategy at Cappex.com, explores in a Wall Street Journal article that graduates from the class of 2015 will leave school with an average of $35,000. That can be pretty daunting when you’re just starting out in your career.

Andrew Josuweit, the founder and CEO of Student Loan Hero, left school in 2009 with $74,000 in student loan debt. He had a hard time finding someone who could give him unbiased advice on how to best pay off his debt.

It took Josuweit three years to finally get his student loans under control, and when he did, it inspired him to start
Student Loan Hero.

“I see Student Loan Hero as the unbiased source of student loan repayment advice that I wish I had in 2009. Our goal is to help borrowers repaying their student loan understand all their options and give them the tools and knowledge to make smart financial decisions,” says Josuweit.

Student Loan Hero is completely free to use. When you sign up with them, they place all of your student loan information in one place so you can see exactly what’s due and when. They analyze your student loans and make recommendations on how you can best tackle them.

So far Student Loan Hero has helped over 40,000 people pay off more than $1 billion in student loan debt.

It seems like there are new FinTech products popping up every day. Are there any financial apps or websites you like to use? Tell us about your favorites in the comment section!

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