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Banking

TRANSFORMING THE DIGITAL BANKING EXPERIENCE

Digital

David Poole, Head of Financial Services at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient

Prognosticators have been pointing to 2020 as a touchstone for change. What can we expect? 

For the better part of the decade, business prognosticdigitaators focused on predicting the state of play for their industries in 2020, even naming the exercise a “20/20 vision.”

Now, as we are at the beginning of that new decade, many of those predictions remain unrealised as banks face unexpected shifts and new competition. Only hindsight is 20/20.

A great banking experience no longer means having a great, well-staffed branch. In fact, customers may never visit the branch, as they have an increasing choice of digital banking solutions. The banks that will thrive in this new decade and beyond, will win on digital experience – less how it looks than how it feels.

The recipe in 2020 for a successful banking experience is LEAD – Make it Light and Ethical, including simpler, transparent pricing and fewer payment options, and more Accessible with a combination of voice and touch. Make it Dataful, using customer data for insightful experiences anticipating behaviour and built around customer life goals.

Here is more on each of these trends:

 

Pricing strategy

Unlike a Netflix bill or the simplicity of Amazon Prime, most consumers struggle to say what they’re charged for a checking account, ATM withdrawal, loans, advice, trades, and portfolio management. The costs are spread across multiple providers, and fees are confusing and constantly changing. In 2020, banks will experiment with simpler pricing and product bundles, determining how much customers will pay, for what, and how to make it easy to understand.

 

Simpler payment options  

The rapid pace of payment innovation has resulted in a proliferation of new ways to pay– making the point-of-sale cluttered with logos that confuse customers. Fortunately, we’re going to see things start to get simpler. We’ve seen the first instances of a combined click-to-pay button with the EMV SRC logo, live now on a few sites with more to come in 2020, replacing Masterpass and Visa Checkout. Expect fewer buttons, fewer steps in the process with increased adoption of stored payment within the browser, and fewer separate apps, replaced with effective one-stop services.

An example of a light experience will be paying with PayPal, where they’ll build in the couponing service; the frustrating task of finding a valid coupon is now built into checkout. Expect more mergers and acquisitions – like PayPal acquiring Honey – to offer one-stop convenience. These lighter, accessible experiences will ensure payments are relegated to the background, and the emphasis can shift instead to using customer data to add value before and after the transaction, adapting the experience to the way the customer wants it and is most comfortable with.

 

Graphical voice assistance

This year, banks will get voice lessons. Alexa skills from banks have yet to reach farther than novelty and niche, with voice-only interfaces remaining inherently limited for finances. When you add a touchscreen to view and interact with, the more complex tasks – like paying a bill or managing your portfolio, become possible.

Scenarios and the accompanying financial data can be visualized, cutting through long voice menus, while decisions can be simply articulated using voice. The sensitivity to hearing and conversing about private finances is replaced with sensitive data on the screen, while uncontroversial commands can be voiced. Voice-enabled screens like Amazon Echo can support these combinatory skills, yet so can smartphones. 2020 will be the year when mobile banking apps better combine touch with voice.

 

Anticipatory Banking i.e. Life Goals

A decade ago, omnichannel banking was a hot trend, applying what worked in retail to make it seamless to bank across channels and shift from pushing product to addressing needs.

Ten years later, banks are still working to deliver omnichannel, and it represents a moving target since there are now more channels, and customer expect more complex needs to be met. This started as a translation exercise. You say “car”—we say “car loan.” You say “new home”—we say “30-year fixed rate mortgage.” This new taxonomy suggested a customer-first approach, yet in reality was thinly disguised product marketing.

Now, the trend will de-emphasize point solutions in favour of life events and customer goals. When a customer’s goal is “I want to get married,” the financial services required are less defined and prompt individual consultation and advice. In an April 2019 announcement of Bank of America Life Plan, the bank promised a fall release to use these sorts of goals to orchestrate services across the lines of business through Erica and the app. Recent beta tests reveal basic goal creation, and similar to the two-year lag with Erica between the PR and release, banks are finding these shifts take longer than anticipated to get right.

What will set 2020 apart is the maturation of voice, chat and AI to tie the loose ends together and serve them up through improved apps and virtual assistants like Erica.

 

Banking

NO SAFE HARBOUR FOR DIGITAL BANKING

by Konstantin Bodragin, Business Analyst and Digital Marketing Officer at Bruc Bond

 

At the beginning of 2020, the future of digital banking was pretty clear. Between Open Banking initiatives, regulatory frameworks like the PSD2, and growing customer demand for more advanced digital services, bank-watchers the world over felt confident in their predictions. The course was set for full digitisation, likely brought about by victorious challenger banks replacing stuffy and lumbering traditional banks. Then the winds changed and ongoing disasters shook the world’s seemingly endless confidence in fintech and the bright future it promised to the core.

COVID-19 dropped on us like a sudden thunderstorm on a birthday party. Sure, experts, analysts, prognosticators (and perhaps even meteorologists) all warned of an inevitable pandemic event. But the rest of us, including most leaders and financial giants, were taken almost entirely by surprise. A majority of us managed to get drenched, even though the forecast predicted stormy weathers. Now, leaders and investors are scrambling to reach high ground and keep whatever they can from being swept away in the torrential floods.

Konstantin Bodragin

In practice this means redirecting funds from aspirational projects towards more immediate goals, and shedding as much unnecessary weight as possible, in case the water rises higher. In the year of COVID, who gets what is not so much a question of wants, but of pure necessity. Unless you’re a government with bottomless pockets, superb credit rating, and a deep desire to stave off a Great Depression-style downturn by means of public works, chances are you too are cutting costs. Big Business is doing the same. Autonomous car projects will be put on hold (if they haven’t been frozen yet), status symbol product launches will be postponed until customers feel confident to spend their extra cash again, and ambitious digitisation projects will be slowed unless their worth can be demonstrated even for the current times.

As they say, when it rains it pours, and this year is particularly wet for fintech. Even if Hurricane Covid hadn’t battered the shores of the global economy quite to so hard, the void left by the sinking of the titanic WireCard would suck much of the industry down beneath the water with it. Just last month, WireCard served as the main provider of banking infrastructure for much of Europe’s Non-Bank Financial Institution industry. NBFIs, tautologically, are not banks. As a rule, until they grow large enough to acquire a bank or banking licence of their own, NBFIs rely on financial and banking facilities provided by another. This is by design, with frameworks like PSD2 regulating access and relationships between various institutions.

Such relationships, under the watchful eyes of local and international regulators, are meant to best serve the interests of customers and consumers. And for the most part they do. Failing or unscrupulous institutions get sidestepped and the system heals around them. Unless, of course, the problem actor is too large. WireCard is one such giant dud, and the sinking of this fintech suppliers will have repercussions that will be hard to mitigate.

WireCard served so many financial institutions that many millions of customers have been affected. Many of these institutions will not be able to survive, and one can only hope that end consumers will be protected from the fallout. On the business end, such hopes for salvation could be too optimistic. Many companies don’t have the resources to withstand several weeks or months of inactivity while they work to replace their financial infrastructure, especially not with extremely depleted budgets due to the ravages of COVID-19.

Those institutions that do survive will face a new reality of confused and likely higher costs, which will almost necessarily have to be passed on to consumers. The more savvy of WireCard’s survivors will try to shore up their defences against the recurrence of such a disaster by spreading the risk and their activity between several providers. This will hopefully lead to a normalisation of costs and a reduction in fees, but by then consumers could once again be too wary to take the risk with digital services whose fees could seemingly spike at any moment.

Loss of confidence won’t be limited to the consumer side, either. Regulators, wary of being made the fool again, are likely to treat fintech and the NBFI sector with much harsher gloves than it did so far. Increased scrutiny, stricter regulatory requirements, and a general lack of cooperation from regulators could sink any hopes of quick recovery for the battered industry. Not to mention the increased costs from such requirements, that are, again, liable to be passed down to the consumers.

Regulators and authorities are not the only power brokers digital banking suppliers will have to contend with. Partners in the banking industry were already eyeing fintechs with suspicion, not least thanks to the egregious claims of the latter to replace the former. Little wonder then, now that the seemingly unbeatable leviathan of WireCard has sunk to the bottom of the deep, that banks will loath to lend a helping hand to NBFIs struggling to find replacement providers.

So what will happen? In this climate, with demands for justice at their peak, some funds will surely be diverted from risky digitisation projects to PR-friendly investment in diversity. Behind the scenes, certain players will carry on their digitisation projects, but their approach is bound to change. The three Ss – slow, steady, stable – are likely to reign supreme, at least until Hurricane Covid passes, and the economic seas are calm once again.

 

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Banking

WHY OPEN BANKING SHOULD BE EVERY MARKETER’S BEST FRIEND

By Kathryn Wright, CSO, Upside

 

To date, Open Banking has been mainly utilised to help consumers with account switching and account aggregation. Being able to have a birds-eye-view of our spending always helps us realise how much money might be slowly ‘leaking out’ of our pockets. As useful as some of the applications have been so far, they are somewhat passive in nature and there is a bigger opportunity at play with Open Banking.

Personalisation has been the holy grail in sales and marketing for some time now, often twinned with omni-channel propositions. According to a study by Gartner in 2018, the brands who personalised discounts and calls-to-action outperform their competitors in revenue by at least 20%. The demand for a completely personalised customer experience has seen many SaaS offerings come to market, promising a complete understanding of your customer.

Many of these technologies are riddled with challenges though, such as customers flitting between devices, moving from mobile to tablet to laptop, and all at different IP locations – which is where omni-channel solutions are needed, but only work reliably when a customer is ‘logged in’. Cookie tracking, or the lack of it, also impacts what is shown to a customer. There’s nothing worse for a customer than clicking through an email and landing on a website just to see a large pop-over asking them to sign up to emails and offers. That’s clear evidence and an example of personalisation not working!

Another bad example in basic segmentation is generalisation. Businesses often take a few pieces of demographic data and then make wildly inaccurate assumptions about the customer. No retailer or marketer needs more data. They need actionable data with insights which can drive action and engagement.

And this is when Open Banking comes into play. By pairing past spending data through Open Banking, marketing teams can better understand their customer base, and brands can personalise which products and offers are shown and when. The end-result is an all-round better experience for the customer, which in turn means an increase in their brand loyalty.

 

Single Source Of Truth

Businesses currently struggle to know who really is a new customer. It’s kind of tricky when all of the largest discounts are designed to get a new customer on board and marketing teams are heavily focused on new customer acquisition and the cost per new customer.

So who is a new customer? Someone with a new email address that you haven’t seen before? But what about a different delivery address or using PayPal one time and then a card the next time. One customer can potentially register as a ‘new customer’ up to around seven times. Additionally, if I leave my broadband provider this year and come back after a year, am I a repeat or new customer? Brian Dunne from Gift Card Consulting, advisor and investor to Upside puts it well: “There is no such thing as new customers, they’ve all seen you at some point. You are just not getting all their spend most of the time.”

False customer categorisation affects all other business metrics. CAC, CLTV, Repeat purchase rate, customer churn – and these are not trivial metrics, these are metrics upon which huge budgets are committed to or culled. The answer to these questions and challenges in customer personalisation lies in Open Banking. The single source of truth where money can only come out once. Of course, there are credit cards and multiple bank accounts, but the idea is for the customer to have all of these linked.

A new world of data analysis opens up when Open Banking is applied. Retailers can see the frequency of spend, location and average order value. Most brands have this information, but only for themselves. Outside of their walled-garden, it’s more of a mystery. Open Banking allows businesses to benchmark all of these metrics against the rest of their industry, showing what percentage of wallet share they have, which is more meaningful as a metric than an incorrect measure of new customer sign-ups.

For Open Banking to fully show its potential, the conversation with customers needs to change. Brands need to reward repeat purchases and loyalty, instead of offering all of the best discounts to ‘new customers’. Leveraging new fintechs and Open Banking, retailers will be able to know for sure who is a new customer, which will allow them to attract new, win back old and delight their most loyal customers more accurately.

 

Open Banking – Fiction or the Future of Retail? 

Pairing machine learning with Open Banking brings personalisation to a whole new level above simple segmentation and improves the customer experience. Machine learning and AI, combined with Open Banking, are ways to create insights from the masses of data that businesses have. As an example, over time, businesses will be able to recognise when a particular customer looks like they are going to lapse into no longer shopping there, or shop less regularly, and suggest to the brand that at this stage, they offer a special cashback rate. Rather than a ‘spray and pray’ attitude to marketing it means brands can give customers what they need at the right time and ensure their communications are relevant.

Does this sound like a dream? It is not – the technology is ready. Open banking and machine learning can change the way marketing and sales work for any industry. Estimates sit around 95% for the prediction of future revenue which will come from as little as 5% of a brand’s existing customer base. A study by the Center for Generational Kinetics reveals 80% of consumers would visit a store they hadn’t visited before if given a direct cashback. Given statistics like these, retention through delighting and rewarding existing customers, as well as new user acquisition, is imperative.

It’s only the mindset which often holds businesses back. Those retailers, businesses and Open Banking providers who grasp this opportunity and move away from the old discounting culture will rise in the post-Covid-19 world.

 

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