Ketan Parekh, Managing Director Financial Services, Fujitsu, UK and Ireland
Banking is changing. Last year’s news that Monzo had reached three million customers and was being valued at over £2bn marked a significant moment for the challengers; a high watermark that offered cause for celebration as the industry continues to move towards a digital-first future.
The same is true in the wider financial service industry. Payments start-up Klarna, for example, is now the world’s most valuable consumer-facing fintech, worth an eye-watering $5.5bn.
Yet despite the excitement around digitisation and the speed and convenience it offers, consumers remain loyal to the seemingly old-fashioned values of human interaction and security; a glimmer of hope for the future of brick-and-mortar banking.
The changing customer
Despite reservations, the popularity of digital-first banking services continues to increase. By the end of 2018, the number of consumers registered with a mobile payment service such as Apple and Google Pay rose to 8.5 million – an eightfold increase since 2016. Meanwhile, half of 25-34-year olds admit to being “excited” about mobile banking.
Interestingly, the demand for digital hasn’t dimmed the appeal of human interaction. Our own research found that consumers still prefer banks with high street branches – and an astonishing 40% say they simply don’t trust challenger banks.
It seems a strangely anachronistic attitude in the days when card spending is quickly overtaking cash transactions, and mobile app use is on the rise. But the customer, as they say, is always right: banks must find some way to blend the consumer’s digital expectations with their preference for human interaction.
Right now, customers expect the best of both worlds. And whether you’re a traditional bank or a challenger, it’s imperative to find the right balance between the two.
And while human trust has kept traditional banks attractive to consumers, how long will this continue?
How traditional banks can keep up
For the traditional banks, integrating new digital-first technologies into their offering will be essential in ensuring they can continue to compete with the upstarts. Crucially, it’s important they understand that investment in technology should not be made for technology’s sake but to answer the demands of the market. What do customers expect today? What will they expect tomorrow? And what do they want that they can’t get anywhere else?
Looking to innovative sectors such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) will provide a source of inspiration, with these technologies offering any number of new features, including improved biometrics, better identification services, and real-time transaction updates.
Natwest Group have done just this. The bank recently developed biometric payment fobs that use fingerprints to verify transactions. The stats support the move towards greater tech integration: the public is more likely to bank with a provider who is using 5G (42%) and near-field communication (44%), while the implementation of biometrics would make 46% of customers more likely to use a bank.
By digitalising the consumer experience internally and externally, traditional banks will increase their agility and better compete with younger start-ups.
Challengers must get the basics right
For challengers, the question is one of reputation.
Despite their efficient services, digital-first banks still need to work on building trust with customers. And without public trust, the convenience and speed of their services count for nothing.
If start-up banks are to really make a mark – and compete with the legacy and trust that traditional banks have established – they’ll need to ensure there’s solid IT infrastructure that can deliver the human and digital customer experience expected alongside full compliance and security.
This is where the lack of brick-and-mortar branches can pose issues. The challengers may be compliant with all the necessary regulations, but customers still want reassurance. And it’s easier to trust what you can see: human interactions in a physical setting.
Challengers need to find a digital solution that provide the same reassurance and service as a physical branch. This means considering questions such as what if a customer doesn’t have regular access to the internet? How can digital banks provide the kind of feedback that assures customers their banking request is being actioned, even if they can’t necessarily see or hear it? And how can customers feel listened to and reassured if something goes wrong?
Business leaders now need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. There is much that each of the forces in banking can learn from one another – and in a race to provide speed and convenience, it is perhaps time for banks to lean on one another for best practice ideas and inspiration. Ultimately, in a world where consumer demands are so diffuse (and often conflicting), this is no longer a winner-takes-all race but a relay where everyone wins thanks to fine-tuned collaboration.
THE CO-BRAND CREDIT CARD MARKET – SINK OR SWIM
By Chris Vinnicombe, VP Financial Services at Acxiom
The co-brand credit card market is the result of the partnerships between many of the world’s largest credit card issuers and consumer goods businesses like airlines, hotels, and retailers. By leveraging existing technology investments in digital, data, and analytics, the co-brand credit card market has attracted affluent consumers over the years. Indeed, it has remained a powerful component of retail loyalty programmes and strategies that generate revenue not only for the issuer, but for retail partners as well.
The market today
Historically, rewards have been critical to retaining and attracting consumers. However, businesses are increasingly finding that this benefit alone is not enough. In today’s world of data, one-size-fits-all loyalty programmes show little customer intimacy, since they don’t pay attention to individual attitudes, behaviours, and expectations.
Co-branded credit cards have faced competitor pressure to sweeten the rewards pot to draw customer traffic and differentiate their card programmes. Above that when consumers around the world are used to relevant adverts, offers and suggestions, the market increasingly seems out of touch when the offers don’t hit the mark.
It is now time for credit card companies to take a hard look at their proposition to determine which offerings consumers still value and to create benefits that are digital first, easy to use and truly relevant to how they live.
Increasing cardholder engagement
Today, engagement has become a significant part of this challenge. Cardholder engagement is critical in the market since it measures who has an active relationship with their card, rather than those where it sits unused at the bottom of a draw.
One of the issues is that many cardholders feel they are of little interest to the card issuer after starting the relationship. When offerings remain the same and don’t reflect consumer lifestyle changes, it leads to a decline in spend and balance activity.
For example, if a person is consistently purchasing long-haul, luxury summer holidays on their card and receiving a reward of discounts on Christmas staycations it just won’t be claimed. Ultimately, if the user isn’t likely to claim a reward it defeats the whole point of user offerings in the first place and will lead to a decay in the relationship over time.
To change this dynamic, card issuers need to focus on becoming far more customer-centric, addressing pain points, fulfilling desires and engaging with the consumer as an individual. Whether they are frequent travellers, trend setters, have an affinity to luxury products, cash back collectors, etc. Keeping up with interests and offering tailored rewards will create a more personalised experiences for customers and increase loyalty.
Customer experience – reach for the skies
A key example of this is the airline sector. Co-branded credit cards play an important role for airlines and their card issuers, each of which benefit from credit card engagement and purchasing behaviour. The cards also play an integral role in frequent flyer programmes, helping drive flyer loyalty.
Nowadays, airline customer interactions can come through many channels like customer service centres, online travel agencies, websites, and more which can create a complex ecosystem of customer data. The co-brand card partners see significant transaction data that identifies travel activity and purchasing patterns that are strong triggers for airline marketing programmes. All these interactions generate crucial information on passenger needs and preferences that enable up-sell/cross-sell, pricing and preferred experiences (i.e. early boarding or flight update notifications).
For the co-brand credit card market to work, partners need to work together seamlessly. Sharing customer information is vital to the interwoven marketing capabilities needed to be successful.
It all starts with the data foundation. A shared space for data to be safe provides a privacy-compliant environment that allows marketers and partners to connect different types of data while protecting and governing its use. This is the bread and butter for people-based marketing that enables partners to engage consumers across today’s highly fragmented landscape of channels and devices.
These data safe havens provide the ability to ingest customer records from partners, as well as core campaign and engagement logs used where businesses can measure and analyse success. This data can also be enhanced by third-party sources (demographic data, propensity models) to enrich the view of the consumer and create new insights to support new audience creation for marketing programmes.
However, organising, managing, and deriving insights from large sets of consumer data is complicated. To overcome this, companies should rely on connectivity solutions that integrate data to provide a single view of the customer. These identity resolution services resolve first-, second-, and third-party data, exposure and transaction data to represent real people in a privacy-compliant way.
Having this omnichannel view of the consumer can then be utilised to support consumer targeting, personalisation, and measurement bettering the offering to the user and maintaining relevance in the customer’s wallet.
Ultimately, data is helping the co-brand credit card market to stay relevant to consumers today. It is no longer enough to offer one-size-fits-all rewards to card users as competition in the industry hots up. Increasing customer loyalty and engagement is name of the game and using data from across both partners is helping firms to be more competitive, responsive and personalised than ever to drive new business uptake while keeping existing customers coming back for more.
FOUR WAYS OPEN BANKING AND AI WILL REVOLUTIONISE ACCOUNTANCY
Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of cloud accounting software company, FreeAgent
It’s been just over two years since the term Open Banking became a tangible reality in the UK. Since then, the nine largest banks and building societies in Great Britain and Northern Ireland have signed up to take part in the initiative, meaning they must allow regulated businesses to access their customers’ financial data, as long as the customer has provided permission.
Open Banking was imposed by the Competition and Markets Authority to spur competition between banks and make customers’ banking information more accessible to third parties. And this phenomenon has already been transformative for accountancy, providing third-party financial service providers standard ways to access consumer banking transactions, and other data from financial institutions – a seamless alternative to the teetering piles of paperwork traditionally associated with accounting. Paired with other new innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), Open Banking has the power to change the day-to-day lives of accountants and more broadly, the world of finance.
This article examines the fundamental ways Open Banking and AI can and are already being utilised by accountants.
Real Time Insights
Through the use of Open Banking, accountants can have real-time access to their clients’ most up-to-date banking data every single day. This means no more chasing clients for the necessary information that you need to do your usual day-to-day work. This also benefits your clients, as they can continue with their daily workload knowing that their bank transactions are being shared with you directly, accurately and automatically. Suddenly their do-list looks a bit shorter!
Traditionally, accountants have had to deal with an enormous amount of paperwork, including invoices, expense receipts, bank statements and other important documents. Combined across the profession, this amounts to mountains of paper that have to be analysed and filed. One of the greatest benefits of technology and digital accounting is that it alleviates the stress of keeping important information in physical files. As well as less mess in the office, this means invoices, expenses, receipts can be kept in one place – online. This enables accountants to be more efficient on a day-to-day basis as they are able to easily find documentation by simply typing in what they are looking for to search for it.
Luckily for accountants, and also for the environment, Open Banking and cloud software platforms ensure that important data can transfer seamlessly and safely between your bank and your financial accounts. Already, cloud accounting software makes it possible to have one tidy dashboard that gives an overview of the business in its entirety. As well as being the guardian of files, using technology to set up a bank feed will allow accountants to track incomings and outgoings, link invoices and payments and view interactive charts of all their clients’ accounts.
Working from anywhere
The last five years have seen the progression to flexible working increase significantly. Millennials in particular have a desire to work out of the office. A survey conducted with over 19,000 working Millennials across 25 countries revealed their top five priorities when looking for a job, with 79% stating flexible working was a must. Further analysis from BBC 5 Live revealed a 74% jump in the number of people working from home between 2008 and 2018.
As well as the natural increase in the number of people working remotely, accountancy is one of the many professions being affected by the current turbulence being caused by the Covid-19 virus. This month, the government announced everyone should work from home if they can. Now, more than ever, people are away from the traditional office space and working instead from the confines of their own home, with technology acting as the glue that in many cases is keeping their business together. For accountants this means remote access to financial data is an absolute essential.
Add consultancy to the equation
With more efficient processes and easier methods of making and tracking transactions, technology and Open Banking will ultimately free up a whole lot of time for the accountants. Clearing up the calendar will make room for new kinds of work and enable accountants to spend more time on consultancy and value-added services, where previously these may have been perceived as a bonus service or from the client-side, a service at a much larger additional cost.
As well as consultancy, these technologies will have other, less direct impacts on the client-side. For example instead of needing a shoebox full of receipts, Open Banking and AI will lead to more confident and self-managed clients. If a client is keeping accurate books themselves, then the accountant no longer has to do all of the numerical admin. Rather, the value add lies in providing higher-level insights around the numbers and offering useful advice such as “it is time to put your prices up, as your profits are lower this year“.
Ultimately, AI and Open Banking are opening the gateway to a more efficient and effective accountancy industry. While benefiting the clients by making new space for consultancy and added value services, new technology ultimately streamlines an accountants’ entire job. Because they are constantly dealing with stacks of financial information, the consequences of misplacement of one document or inefficiently tracking systems hold higher stakes than usual. Luckily there is no need for accountants to grapple with old-school methodology anymore as AI and Open Banking are already readily available and at their fingertips.
CUSTOMER CARE TODAY WILL BUILD RESILIENCE FOR FUTURE CRISES
Cathal McGloin, CEO of ServisBOT writes, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created major spikes in calls to financial sector helplines dealing with customers...
THE CO-BRAND CREDIT CARD MARKET – SINK OR SWIM
By Chris Vinnicombe, VP Financial Services at Acxiom The co-brand credit card market is the result of the partnerships between...
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CASH FLOW IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
While the world is constantly changing, probably at a faster pace now than ever before, businesses need to manage cash...
NEW IVALUA STUDY SHOWS TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES ARE HINDERING PROCUREMENT TEAMS FROM ACHIEVING BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
Lack of system integrations and actionable insights are stopping organisations from accurately measuring performance Ivalua, a leading provider of global...
WHY DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES IS ABOUT CULTURE FIRST, TECH SECOND
Stuart Templeton, Head of UK at Slack In today’s world, there’s no such thing as a ‘non-tech fin’. Every...
STOP THE CONFUSION: HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR BUSINESS MAY BE INSURED AGAINST COVID-19
By Alex Balcombe, Partner at Harris Balcombe The last few weeks has seen businesses in hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure...
BRAVE NEW WORLD: A FUTURISTIC VISION OF PAYMENTS
James Booth, VP, Head of Partnerships in EMEA for PPRO Over the last ten years, the retail e-commerce ecosystem...
A PROPTECH FOUNDER’S BEGINNING, THE START OF KLEVIO AND HOW ACCESS-TECH IMPROVES FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
An interview with Klevio’s CEO and Co-Founder, Aleš Špetič What is Klevio? Klevio is a smart intercom that allows...
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN LEARN TO TRADE RISK-FREE DURING THE COVID-19 MARKET CRASH
Trading app BullBear has launched new features to support budding investors looking to hone their skills against the backdrop of...
ENTERPRISE BLOCKCHAIN: DRAGGING INSURANCE OUT OF THE DARK AGES
Ryan Rugg, Global Head of The Industry Business Unit at R3 The history of insurance traces back to the development...
DISPELLING BIOMETRIC MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS
By Lina Andolf-Orup, Head of Marketing at Fingerprints Gangsters cutting off enemies’ fingers to access secret locations and spies lifting...
FUTURE FX PROMO
FOUR WAYS OPEN BANKING AND AI WILL REVOLUTIONISE ACCOUNTANCY
Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of cloud accounting software company, FreeAgent It’s been just over two years since the...
HOW FINANCIAL SERVICES CAN GET TO GRIPS WITH RISING SUPPLY CHAIN RISK
By Alex Saric, smart procurement expert, Ivalua UK businesses have never been more dependent on their suppliers to help...
TWO TO TANGO? MARKET DATA AND OPINIONS IN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT
Sebastien Lleo is Associate Professor of Finance at NEOMA Business School (France) Analyst views and expert opinions matter. They...
AN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TURNING YOUR EARLY RETIREMENT DREAM INTO A REALITY
Rick Pendykoski is the owner of Self Directed Retirement Plans LLC, a retirement planning firm based in Goodyear, AZ. ...
WHAT EVOLUTIONARY AI MEANS FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES
by Babak Hodjat, VP of Evolutionary AI at Cognizant Many banks and other financial services institutions (FIs) are beginning...
HARNESSING ANALYTICS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST FRAUD
By Anna Lykourina, EMEA Fraud Analytics Expert at SAS In the past, the fight against fraud has been a...
ERSTE BANK HUNGARY IMPROVES AND SECURES THE REMOTE BANKING EXPERIENCE WITH ONESPAN MOBILE SECURITY
Leading Hungarian bank deploys OneSpan’s Mobile Security Suite to one million customers to make mobile banking convenient while fighting fraud...