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.



Explore more