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Many fintech companies plan to expand into Canada
The Earny app, which also includes
hotel services, has more than three mil- lion users.
The ability to save appears to draw many users who would fall outside the reach of investment firms and financial advis- ors to contemporary fintech. The Acorns app, for example, helps users invest, save and spend responsibly for just $1, $2 or $3 per month. Acorns Securities LLC, based in California, promises “no sur- prise fees, just surprise upgrades.” The app rounds up debit and credit card pur- chases and invests the difference for users. The appeal is far-reaching: with 6.2 mil- lion users, the Acorns app is the fastest- growing financial-wellness system and leading micro-investment app in the U.S.
Insuretech is another fast-growing
subset of fintech. For example, New York- based Lemonade Insurance Co. is taking an innovative approach to providing prop- erty and casualty insurance to clients. The firm, which is powered by artificial intelli- gence and behavioural economics, takes a fixed fee out of clients’ monthly premiums (to cover reinsurance and the expenses of running the business) and uses the rest for paying out claims. The company returns unclaimed money to clients in an annual “giveback.” The insurer insists it “gains nothing by delaying or denying claims.”
The new wave of fintech services go beyond traditional service offerings.
The Earnin app, from California-based Activehours Inc., for example, enables employees who are paid on a biweekly or monthly schedule to be paid daily through a micro-loan system. The app operates on the “pay what you can” model and is 95%
funded through user payments, according to the company’s website.
While these fintech innovations are available only in the U.S., advisors in Canada should pay close attention to what is happening south of the border. For many firms, including Earny, expansion is on the horizon. “It is definitely on our road map to expand outside the U.S.,” says Vakrat.
Activehours also has set its sights for Earnin beyond the U.S. “We’re always looking for opportunities to expand to other markets and help more people with their financial wellness,” says an Activehours spokesperson.
Vakrat encourages advisors to pay close attention to the latest fintech because cli- ents will be reading about it, wondering about it and using it. “You need to under- stand these services,” he says.
Canadian financial services regulators
actively encourage fintech develop- ment here at home. In 2016, the Ontario Securities Commission established OSC LaunchPad to accelerate the speed at which early-stage fintech businesses reach mar- ket viability — the first initiative of its kind among Canadian securities regulators.
And in October 2019, National Bank launched the Innovation Competition, a large-scale challenge designed to bring together Canadian fintech startups, stu- dents and other teams from across the country to develop new solutions to help consumers save more efficiently and manage their money. The first winners will be announced in April.
There’s room for innovative technol- ogy, says Rousseau, noting that National Bank intends “to build relationships and potential partnerships with the next wave of Canadian fintechs.” IE
   Health apps and gadgets for seniors
Digital technology can not only help your older clients stay healthy. Some devices can even save lives
l BY WOODROW PELLEY getting in shape, monitoring
health in real time and accessing emer- gency assistance now can be only a click away for seniors. There is a wide range of personal technology available that can help your clients stay healthy for the 20-plus years they will live beyond the standard retirement age of 65.
There are three general categories of personal health technology: gadgets, apps and websites. Let’s look at some of the most popular in each category.
l gadgets
The most popular digital health gadget is the smartwatch. The market leaders are the Fitbit from Fitbit Inc. and the Apple Watch from Apple Inc. (both companies are based in California). While both products serve as watches, they also offer several health- and fitness-related features, including the ability to monitor the user’s heart rate, heart rhythm and blood pressure, and track physical activity such as daily steps taken, calories burned and hours slept.
Tracking this information over days, months and years helps users monitor their health. These devices also provide notifications when they detect a poten- tial problem, such as high blood pres- sure, which can portend a heart attack or stroke.
The Apple Watch, which costs between
$300 and $1,880, is designed to seamlessly interface with other Apple products, such as iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, which enable reporting in larger screen formats and offer other features, such as charts and spreadsheets.
A Fitbit device, which costs between $80 and $290, also can interface with both Apple and Android devices. Your client’s choice of smartwatch will depend, for the most part, on their preferred computing platform and price.
Another popular gadget is the wear- able medical alert device. There are many brands, features and prices from which to choose. One of the most popular is the Philips Lifeline, from Netherlands- based Koninklijke Philips NV, which is designed to detect when the user falls. Its popularity is due in part to the fact that approximately 1.4 million Canadians over age 65 fall each year, and more than 30% of these falls result in hip fractures.
The Lifeline, with prices beginning at a monthly fee of $36, automatically detects when and where a person falls and connects that person to a call- centre representative who will speak to the patient while the user waits for a first responder to arrive.
Many medical alert service providers feature options for conditions such as epi- lepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. These services range in price from $20 to $60 per month. The Alarm Quotes web- site ( al-alerts-seniors-canada/) helps seniors find the best monitoring system to fit their specific health needs and budget.
“Wearable technology goes where I go,” says Allan Smofsky, workplace
health strategist and managing director, Smofsky Strategic Planning in Toronto. “Having immediate access to my data is a big motivator to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
l apps
The Wellness App from the Fountain of Health website ( is a good conversation starter. The app uses a questionnaire to help potential users identify the most critical aspect of their health to address first, then directs them to set a reasonable improvement goal. The Fountain of Health initiative is a non-profit national association of health professionals founded at Halifax- based Dalhousie University’s department of psychiatry.
The most common mobile health apps are those built into iPhone and Android smartphone platforms. The iPhone Health app offers basic step counts and walking and running distances using an iPhone’s internal GPS system. The app can link dir- ectly with an Apple Watch and almost 40 other monitoring devices. Android-based smartphone health apps are similar.
Both the iPhone and Android health apps also enable users to manually enter health data. For example, if you weigh yourself each day, you can enter that infor- mation into your health app — which then tracks your weight over various periods.
Health apps enable users to analyze their personal data and get results in easy- to-read graphs, charts and spreadsheets. The apps can detect changes in key health indicators, such as weight increases and rising blood pressure.
In some cases, the apps will send noti- fications so the user can take action, such as reducing daily calorie intake or booking an appointment to see the doctor. Early detection of a health issue may mean the difference between changing a prescrip- tion and suffering a heart attack.
l websites
You can suggest clients bookmark the “medical services by phone” page on Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s website ( Seniors and the dis- abled can speak privately with registered nurses and potentially other health profes- sionals by phone or webcam, free of charge.
Hospitals and universities also provide extensive online health information that’s easy for seniors to access. For example, McMaster University in Hamilton has the Optimal Aging Portal, which provides useful information on topics such as how to main- tain a healthy lifestyle, cognitive health and how to access health-care services.
Being aware of mobile health technol- ogy will aid you in forecasting your clients’ future health care costs and show them that you care about your clients’ well-being. IE
   Early detection of a health issue may mean the difference between changing a prescription and suffering a heart attack

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