It is no secret that digital transformation has been sweeping the banking and finance world. Automation, cloud-based products and online banking are at the forefront of almost all executives’ minds as colleagues and competitors alike race to identify and implement the latest digital solutions and platforms to save their organizations time and money. So strong has the investment been that it has spawned a lucrative industry all of its own, with CB Insights reporting the planet was home to almost 80 ‘fintech’ companies worth more than $1 billion by early 2021.
What truly astounds though is just how quickly the landscape is changing. Take Juniper Research’s finding that in 2019 chatbots were saving banks about $209 million and that figure will rise to $7.3 billion by 2023. You don’t have to be a financial wizard to appreciate that a 3,400% increase is extraordinary, with the dollar figure representing the 862 million hours that chatbots will save banks – equivalent to nearly half a million working years.
Where the online banking conversation was once about security concerns and the reluctance of many customers to forgo the face-to-face experience, the modern consumer does not merely accept digital solutions but demands them. With research revealing 46% of people exclusively use digital channels for their financial needs, it is little wonder renowned professional services network PWC has reported 77% of incumbent financial institutions are increasing their focus on internal digital innovations to boost customer retention.
Some examples of digital solutions within the banking and finance industry include:
An abbreviation of ‘financial technology’, fintech has become a catch-all for those businesses that provide financial services via technology or software. While traditional banks look to complement their bricks-and-mortar branches with digital offerings, neobanks and other online-only financial institutions are underpinned by fintech as they focus on giving customers access to real-time, 24/7 solutions without ever setting foot in a physical building. Given fintech’s status as one of the fastest growing industries in the world, traditional banks are realizing such companies need to be seen as ‘friends’ rather than ‘foes’. A 2020 survey by IT consulting firm CGI found 73% of retail banking executives intend to invest in fintech partnerships during the next three years as they look to prioritize digital solutions to keep up with the likes of neobanks.
Many consumers already view mobile banking as the quickest and most flexible way of managing their financial needs but banks are doing all they can to make the experience even simpler. This includes investing heavily in artificial intelligence to create virtual assistants that can handle everything from text- and voice-enabled payments to credit score notifications and fraud alerts. One of the most well-known is Erica, Bank of America’s mobile assistant application that allows users to view bills and payments, transfer money, access regular credit score updates and receive breakdowns of recurring monthly payments. By automating the simpler aspects of banking, organizations are giving themselves every chance of success in the battle to woo and retain customers.
The banking sector needs to embrace omnichannel solutions that allow customers to engage with businesses when and how they want. While the industry has long appreciated the need to offer consumers multiple channels to conduct their business, there is a growing appreciation that the experience needs to be as seamless as possible and the key to achieving that is investing in digital infrastructure so they can easily switch between channels during their customer journey.
With hacking and identity theft continuing to cause heartache for customers and headaches for banks, it is no surprise that organizations are investing heavily in digital solutions aimed at improving fraud detection and security. The growing number of people embracing mobile and online banking means it has never been more important to ensure the sector is as safe as possible from scamming and phishing tactics. Fortunately, machine learning and risk management tools are allowing banks to offer their customers multi-channel fraud protection for things like transaction fraud and new account verification. Similarly, digital platforms with features such as two-step authentication, device integrity screening, geo-location lookups and transaction monitoring are enhancing online security and reducing fraud losses.
The days of needing to put on a suit and tie in a bid to be approved for a business or home loan are long gone. Digitization now means the need to even walk into a physical bank branch in search of a loan is headed the same way. Mobile banking solutions are becoming so sophisticated that institutions can use loan lending apps that leverage the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess an individual’s credit history. Data can then be analyzed and customized loan options created for customers. It is just another example of how digital innovation is making life easier for both consumers and their financial providers.
As a secure form of biometric authentication that allows customers to remotely conduct banking transactions, voice recognition is ideal for the growing number of people keen to avoid visiting physical branches. Check account balances, review transaction histories, place new requests, interact with digital banking assistants – it’s all possible thanks to this modern and exciting technology.
The benefits of investing in digital solutions clearly outweigh related financial costs. At the top of the list is the ability to deliver an enhanced customer experience, a key priority in the modern landscape given studies have found 69% of customers who plan to leave their bank do so due to poor service rather than poor products. Machine learning, location-based services and big data are also allowing banks to offer more personalized services by identifying where customers are in their journey and present them with the most relevant products.
When taking the next step on the digital journey, it is crucial to tap into the expertise of external partners that are qualified in tackling specific functions in a cost-effective and highly productive manner. This extends to outsourcing providers who can access huge pools of highly qualified talent for specific banking and finance roles (eg: Financial Analysts, Brokers, Loans Specialists), digital experts (eg: Web Developers, Chat Management, Data Analysts) and administration support.
Outsourcing companies can also provide automation technology and software to tackle repetitive and time-consuming tasks, with the likes of virtual assistants and chatbots playing a key role in freeing up time for in-house employees to focus on more high-value activities. Best of all, the lower cost of labor and living in outsourcing hubs such as the Philippines – up to 70% in many cases - means banks and finance providers can access such services at cost-effective rates that undoubtedly ease budget pressures.
With the global pandemic continuing to threaten a rocky road ahead for the banking and finance sector, there has never been a greater need to learn more about the key trends impacting the industry and how executives are reducing overheads, enhancing efficiencies and improving their services.
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