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Finance

CASHLESS CONFUSION: CONSUMERS ARE KEEPING THEIR CARDS CLOSE TO THEIR CHEST

By David Orme, SVP, IDEX Biometrics ASA

 

Do you remember coins? When was the last time you actually carried around a pocketful of pennies to pay for something? Given the rapid growth of contactless transactions, mobile payment apps and online shopping, it was probably quite a while ago now. Advancing banking technology, means we are fast moving towards a cashless society. In the UK, cash payments fell behind card transactions for the first time in 2017, while Sweden expects to become the first country in the world to go fully cashless, thanks to a country-specific payment app.

However, despite being hailed as the solution to end our use of cash and cards, mobile payment apps haven’t reached anywhere near the expected level of public adoption in the UK. By 2018, only 13% of the UK population was using mobile payments, due to the majority of the population generally preferring the ease and familiarity of contactless cards.

This is supported by our recent research at IDEX Biometrics ASA, which reveals that six-in-ten (60%) UK consumers would not give up their debit card in favour of mobile payments. In fact, a further three quarters (75%) of UK consumers are concerned about the UK becoming a cardless society, where they no longer have access to a physical debit card and can only rely on mobile payments.

Clearly, the payment card has become a strong part of our daily routine. So much so that, almost two-in-five (37%) of UK consumers stated that as long as they have access to a debit or credit card, the thought of a cashless society wouldn’t bother them. Interestingly, this number even rose to over half (52%) of 25-34-year-olds.

Given this strong evidence that consumers are still loyal to the payment card, it seems that the banking industry is focusing on the growth of the wrong payment technology. As we move towards a cashless world, the future of payments may not be in smartphone apps after all.

 

A smooth transition

There is a clear generational divide when it comes to the acceptance of digital payments. While over half (53%) of 18-24-year olds believe they already live a mostly cashless life, that number plummets to only 19% of those over the age of 55. Similarly, while four-in-ten (38%) of those aged 25-34 believe cash is now obsolete, only 9% of over 55s agree.

In fact, half (50%) of those aged over 55 are continuing to use cash to buy small-ticket items. Young people, however, are so tied to their card that two-in-five (40%) of those aged 25-34 say they won’t shop anywhere that doesn’t accept cards.

One of the greatest concerns surrounding a cashless society is the potential for inequality. Consumers shouldn’t be locked out of the banking system because they are less familiar with new payment methods or have limited access to digital devices. To keep our economy fair and inclusive, our payments system must stay accessible to all. Therefore, as we approach a cashless society, the UK Government and banking sector should reconsider the cashless transition. Instead of the focus on mobile payment apps, banks and financial institutions must adopt payment card technology that is convenient, secure and reliable for consumers of all ages, particularly older generations who still rely on cash.

 

Holding on to security

Consumers are also dismissing mobile payment apps thanks to rising security worries around the new technology and the potential for misuse of mobile payments. Over two-thirds (68%) of respondents still feel more secure using their bank card than a mobile phone to make a payment, while almost three-in-five (58%) fear that if they lost their mobile phone, people would be able to access their bank accounts.

In contrast, half (50%) of respondents say that having their debit card gives them a sense of security. Significantly, four-in-ten (41%) consumers would trust the use of their fingerprint to authenticate payments from their bank card more than a PIN.

Given these concerns, it is evident that payment technology needs to be more secure. It’s time for banks to adopt cards with biometric fingerprint authentication, which can’t be misused without the owner’s fingerprint, even if stolen or lost. Incorporating this advanced biometric technology into payment cards would enhance authentication for transactions and provide all consumers with a safer payment process that offers more reassurance than PINs or apps currently provide.

 

Futureproofing the payments industry

Although the idea of a cashless society holds many benefits, 55% of consumers actually think a cashless society will be inconvenient. Whether from lack of technology awareness or security concerns, consumers are still fearful of the day when they have to rely on mobile apps to access their money and pay for goods. Given this fear, the financial industry needs to work quickly to enhance payment cards by utilising biometric technology to secure payment authentication, before cash becomes extinct.

Payment cards that provide the convenience of contactless payments with the added security of fingerprint authentication are the key to a seamless transition into a fully cashless society. Such cards will prevent misuse and card fraud, while allowing fast, convenient, secure and direct access to our bank accounts, bringing much-needed reassurance to UK consumers.

UK consumers have made their feelings clear; they are just not willing to give up their payment cards. In a cashless society, cards will still be leading the way – we must future proof them for the next generation of payments now.

 

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Finance

AI: CUSTOMER FACING EMPLOYEES’ BEST FRIEND IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

By Ryan Lester, Senior Director, Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn

 

We’ve all heard the old saying “money talks.” Well when it comes to customer loyalty and retention, good customer experience talks much louder, with 30% of customers leaving a brand and never returning due to a bad experience.

The truth is, there are a lot of companies with similar products and services, but that doesn’t mean that differentiation is impossible. So, what’s the solution? For financial services, large and small, customer experience is becoming the key competitive differentiator and the best way to deliver an impactful experience is to empower customer-facing employees to do their best work. Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling these employees to create remarkably better customer experiences, resulting in customer loyalty, advocacy, and overall growth.

For financial institutions that have been considering new strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of their customer experience, here are a few ways AI can enable them to deliver the “human factor” that good customer experience demands whilst ensuring customer facing employees can provide a more positive experience for customers.

 

Increase employee productivity

How much of employees’ time is spent searching for answers to questions? Do they ever have to put customers on hold or even step away to get additional help? AI helps provide front-line employees real-time guidance so they can spend less time looking for information and more time solving problems. An AI-powered chatbot, for example, can be listening in the background of a conversation helping point employees to the right data, solutions, and processes to resolve customer issues faster than ever before.

 

Deliver a consistent customer experience

When banking customers engage with their financial institutions, they measure the speed and accuracy of the service through two criteria. First, how quickly can the system access their account and deliver the correct information? Is it faster than a human could type it in and share it? And second, if they eventually do need to be connected to a live customer support agent, is their information captured and passed along accurately? AI technology takes those general queries off the customer support team’s plate, providing a quick, accurate, and effective response. If a query needs a more in-depth response, AI can hand it off to support staff to address.

Not only this but leveraging a centralised, AI-powered knowledge solution ensures every employee has access to the same, updated information, so no matter who the customer speaks to, they can be assured that employee responses are both consistent and accurate across the board.

 

Accelerating employee training and onboarding

Like any industry, employee turnover is inevitable and can be costly. But, not training new employees correctly or in a timely manner could be much more costly. When it comes to financial services there is a lot to learn, whether it is something simple like the process for checking an account balance to all the nuances associated with mortgage loans. AI can support on-the-job training by helping new employees answer questions confidently, correctly, and much quicker than they could before.

 

Improving employee satisfaction

Today’s banking customer has all kinds of new ideas about their banking experience. “The Amazon Effect” has successfully raised consumer expectations to the extent that a consistent, personal, and relevant experience is the new normal. As a customer, how many times have you been told “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer?” Customers want solutions to their problems and employees want to be able to deliver those solutions as efficiently and effectively as possible. AI assisting in the background helps minimise those negative moments – making employees job easier, less stressful, and overall more enjoyable.

 

Identify knowledge gaps

Do you know all the questions employees are getting asked? Do you know what’s easily answered and what’s not? Real-time insights allow knowledge managers to keep up to date on frequently asked questions and gaps in current resources. This allows them to strategically improve or add content where needed.

 

Augmenting customer service

Whether talking with an AI chatbot or a personable customer service team member, the modern banking customer has high expectations for convenience, speed, and security. Which means that the technology you choose to deploy and how you deploy it is now just as important as who you hire and how you train them.

Today’s AI solutions won’t replace customer service agents or get in the way of the human factors that drive the customer experience. On the contrary, they augment it, allowing the business to do more without adding human resources. The higher the quality of a AI chatbot solution, the better it will be at taking the routine requests off the plate of customer service agents—giving them more time to provide a personalized and positive experience for customers.

 

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Finance

TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CASHFLOW DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Rita Cool, Certified Financial Planner at Alexander Forbes Financial Planning Consultants

 

The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is as yet unknown, but individuals have already begun to have their lives disrupted by the country’s economic shutdown, with retrenchments, salary cuts and forced unpaid leave making them take stock of their financial position.

The basic principles of financial planning are especially relevant at this time, but in the short term, cash flow is more important to many people.

To help safeguard you and your family’s financial security, here are some tips to follow to make sure you’re making your money work hard for you:

  • Draw up a budget – this is especially relevant if you’re worried about possible retrenchment of yourself or your partner. This will help you know how much you need to cover your basic living expenses and where you can save money. Don’t only look at what you need to spend money on, but also when you think you will need that money. Perhaps you paid school fees upfront at the beginning of the year, or your car registration is only due again next year.

    Rita Cool

  • Check your bank fees. Are you in the best structure for your needs? Are you paying for services that you never use? Consider moving banks to get a better deal.
  • Banks have waived the Saswitch fee payable for withdrawing cash at another ATM other than your own bank, but if you’re doing this, be aware of when this switches back as you can end up paying almost double the bank fees.
  • Did you know that you start paying interest immediately if you draw cash from a credit card and that you do not get three or six months’ interest free?
  • Go through your house while you have extra time and identify potential items which you could sell, as this will free up cash.
  • Where possible, pay cash for items as the interest rate on hire purchase items is very high and you pay around 20% more for those items than the sticker price. If you cannot afford the item and you don’t need it right now, wait.
  • Look around for bargains online rather than driving around. There are some good sales on, and you can support businesses that need your help.
  • At the same time, be aware of spending extra cash you could be saving towards your financial safety net. There are lots of deals available, so balance the need for the 70% off bikini or new laptop with being cautious about the future.
  • Use store coupons and discount vouchers. The main food retailers have loyalty programme structures that can be tailored to your specific spending patterns. Make sure you claim point or vouchers but look out for monthly costs to belong to a rewards program. Ask yourself if your monthly savings validate the cost. Optimally a reward scheme shouldn’t cost you money.
  • Check with your insurance company if your premium can be reduced because you’re driving less during lockdown.
  • Check your current insurances. Do an insurance rebroke. Make sure you are covered for what you need and take things off the list that you do not have any more and add what you have bought since the last update. Make sure you are not under or over insured and that your premium is market related. The cheapest premium isn’t always the best so be aware of exclusions and excesses and make sure you can afford the excess if you need to claim.
  • In most cases you can reduce your monthly insurance premiums by not having a cash pay-out in the future. If you want a pay-out, save the extra premium in an investment product, not a risk product.
  • Be wary of consolidating debt. You might pay a lower interest rate but it might well be over a longer period so the total interest paid will be higher. If you have debt issues, set up a debt plan with dates and goals to reduce the debt little by little. Do not give up.
  • Be aware that payment holidays are not a free loan, you still owe the money and you’re paying interest on it. Check with your service provider.

 

Remember that the pandemic will pass. Try not to panic as this may lead to rash financial decisions, which could have an impact on your finances later down the line.

 

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