The Bank of the Future

Customers expect their banking experience to be as good as that offered by other industries. PwC recently reported that 88% of financial institutions are concerned that they are losing revenue to innovators.

Whether you’re implementing the latest blockchain technologies, or you’re just using your smartphone once a month to pay the utility bills, you’ll have noticed things are evolving. The banking industry is on the frontline of technology adoption, and with the rise of fintech, banks are facing increasing pressure to evolve all aspects of the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ model.

Innovation is happening at increasingly fast speeds. The question for banks is if they can adapt and adjust as quickly as necessary to keep pace with the competitive innovations coming to market from the digital currency space.

But how will banking be impacted in this brave new world? The industry is ripe for a revolution of simpler, safer and smarter tech, powered by predictive AI and presented in a personalised way that works for everyone.

Data management

Ten years ago, if I told you the role of a data scientist would be flaunted as the sexiest job of the 21st century (no, really!) you might have told me to go back to my statistics textbooks and check the numbers… I’ll admit, on first look there is nothing sexy about data management, but the rise of big data is changing the landscape. Big data is now a commonplace term in boardrooms across the globe and data management has never been more important. As for the teams and individuals enabling these advances? They’re the corporate rock stars of the day.

Simpler interfaces

Mobile Banking has ballooned in popularity, in part because of the cluttered and complicated banking websites of yesteryear. Now on a smaller smartphone screen, banks are forced to distil down and display only the core information that the customer wants and less of the generic marketing blurb that the bank would want. This relentless customer focus is simplifying both interface, language used and ways of interacting. For instance, AI and chat-bots are helping customers wade through bank sites and make sense of the information that they want through conversational interfaces rather than reading lengthy FAQs. Machine vision is helping customers deposit paper cheques with a more convenient snapshot of their smartphone and it's helping banks to continue to process cheques as they become increasingly obsolete. Biometrics is even making the security step far simpler, using your finger-print to access your mobile banking app or simply your voice-print to access telephone banking.

Inter-connection

In 2018, new bank legislation in the form of the Payments Services Directive will shake things up. This'll force traditional banks to share account and transaction information with trusted third parties, enabling customers to aggregate their various bank accounts across multiple institutions in a single view. In time it'll provide the means for customers to easily compare bank products for the best deals or more easily make payments. It's exciting to think about those new banking portals that'll be born that offer the most accessible and usable experiences, whether that be through Amazon Echo or the next big breakthrough technology.

Self-service analytics

Alongside banks and other service providers, customers and end-users are becoming increasingly tech savvy. In under a decade, an entirely new generation of customers will make up a large proportion of banks’ key customers. Sometimes referred to as “Generation Z” and at other times referred to as “Generation Y on red-bull”, these customers have never lived in a world where information was not readily available at the swipe of a finger, or through other novel interfaces such as voice command or fingerprint recognition.

Automation

A recent survey found that 27.5% of accountants attributed human error to mistakes in their spreadsheets. We’ve all been there; the slip of a clumsy finger, copying and pasting into wrong cells, or even a simple typo. It’s easy to do.

Whilst recognising the unique skills we humans possess in problem-solving and analytical approaches, we mustn’t overlook the fact that there are some activities – particularly those involving repetitive and mundane tasks – which are better suited to those less inclined to momentary lapses in concentration, fat finger syndrome, or even spreadsheet related repetitive strain injuries.

Computers do what we tell them to do, when we tell them to do it, and at an incredible speed. Banks of tomorrow should use this to their advantage and invest in automation where available, freeing up their workforce to spend time on tasks where their brainpower is far more valuable.

For some, automated technologies could be regarded as a threat to certain existing job roles within banking. But, as time has shown us repeatedly, technology when used as an amplifier of human potential allows us to “do more with the same”, and often opens and creates new and exciting roles within the sector.

Whilst many of the technologies in fintech focus on making previously tedious tasks simple for end users or customers, it is the work behind the scenes which will have the greatest impact on shaping the future of the banking sector.

To stay competitive, it’s clear that banks will need to continue to improve the readiness of data, combined with accessible cloud analytics platforms allowing customers to conduct their own what-if analyses. If they don’t evolve, they risk falling behind or even falling from relevance.

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