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Invisible banking is in plain sight – here’s what to do about it

In today’s mobile world, financial institutions are working hard to give their digital offerings an overhaul. They are under pressure from several key factors to do so: firstly, because of changing customer behaviours, and secondly, because other organisations – such as retailers, restaurants and convenience firms – have rapidly evolved how they interact with customers.

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Invisible banking is in plain sight – here’s what to do about it

Mobile technology has changed the rules of engagement forever, and the customer experience stakes continue to rise – writes Matt Phillips, VP Banking, Diebold Nixdorf UK/I.

The industry must respond – banks and financial services organisations need to evolve, innovate, and connect the complete customer journey in new and interesting ways. And they need to do this quickly.

Sound like a familiar problem? It’s one that has evolved out of changing consumer behaviours. For example, according to research, people have an average 24 apps installed on their phones[1] and most people unlock their phones 28 times a day to check these apps. Millennials are almost never seen without their mobile phones in their hands, or placed on the table next to them in a meeting, with half carrying their phones with them everywhere they go.[2]

Our obsession with everything digital is nurtured by many businesses already – and the time for the financial services industry to follow suit is now. Retailers have been particularly adept at finding new ways of connecting with customers – with Amazon and eBay among the most popular apps in the UK at the moment. These apps make transactions simple, seamlessly connecting customers to their purchases.

For many financial institutions, following in these footsteps (or fingerprints), involves a seismic shift – from relying on physical touchpoints such as using a debit card at an ATM, to focusing on the digital, the unseen, and the automatic.

This is invisible banking. This is where engagement takes place over apps (not just over the counter), where the mobile wallets go beyond customer expectations, and where an open API economy offers up new opportunities.

With so much to achieve, and with so little time, here are five key tips for making the most out of digital opportunities.

  1. Chose to focus on areas where you’ll have quick wins – for banks, digitisation involves more than simply adding new and improved features to a mobile banking app. It is a big beast, and one that is constantly changing shape according to customer demands and the competitive landscape. Focusing on where you can make quick changes is a useful tactic to employ, if you want to make an impact, while working on the long-term strategy in the background.
  2. Build in flexibility – the open API world is bringing with it a new realm of possibility for organisations that want to digitise. By creating an open and standardised platform, it becomes possible to integrate more offerings into your portfolio more quickly – with flexibility and adaptability built in from the beginning. Ultimately, being open and flexible like this, will allow financial services firms to future-proof their operations and evolve quickly.
  3. Don’t close the doors on integration – integrating out-of-the-box services into your offering can be a really effective way of bringing new solutions to market, quickly. Many app creators have multiple ready-to-go financial services apps and hundreds of features that can be integrated with back-end platforms and data to bring them to more customers quickly.
  4. Consider working with third parties – many banks are already working on incubator schemes with third parties to develop, test and deploy new innovations into their complex systems. The Barclays Accelerator and the City Ventures Fintech Accelerator are two great examples of this. Both are helping fintech start-up concepts to find a place in the banking ecosystem, thus reducing the pressure on internal teams. 
  5. Consider your different markets – every market is different, and customers have different needs in each. The UK is further advanced in the world of mobile banking than some other countries in Europe – with payments, contactless transactions, and even biometric authentication building momentum in the UK. So, if you are implementing person-to-person payments or customer experience bots as part of your digital offering, make sure they are tailored to your customer’s needs.

Ultimately, digitisation is about more than just adding fads or gimmicks to your offering. It’s about making banking a seamless part of your customer’s lives, improving their experience and bringing your services in line with their expectations. It doesn’t matter that you are in a different industry to Uber, eBay, or Amazon. This, is what you are going to be compared to.

Striking the right balance is crucial. This new era of seamless banking happens in the background. Consumers don’t see it, but they do experience it.

For some firms this might involve making it possible for customers to pre-order cash, and then scan a code at their closest ATM to withdraw that cash. For others, it might involve using data intelligently to develop more personalised services or account aggregation apps. It depends on the market, the customer demand, and the overall business objectives involved. Do you have your customer experience goals in plain sight?

[1] Source: Fiserv, “Expectations and Experiences: Channels and New Entrants” survey/ YouGov US.

[2] Source: Fiserv, “Expectations and Experiences: Channels and New Entrants” survey/ YouGov US.

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