Picture: Maria_Domnina/Pixabay
Picture: Maria_Domnina/Pixabay

Banking: 7 trends to watch out for - now and in the future

By Opinion Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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By Sbusiso Kumalo

You’re about to call a cab. As you open the app, you get a pop-up message from your bank warning you that three of its other clients experienced poor service from this provider. So, you choose a different ride.

This could be the client service journey of the future. A hyper-personalised approach where your bank acts as your financial friend assisting you at every touchpoint of the value chain, including your interactions with other service providers. In this world, clients know the value they hold. And brands must offer world-class service as a benchmark, not a bragging point.

Let’s take an in-depth look into the client journey according to current trends specifically in the banking sector. It’s critical to be in the business of daydreaming. clients don’t always know what they want, but they’ll know when they see it. Creativity and innovation are about expanding on the boundaries of rationality, rather than fixating solely on what clients’ want. Rather, we need to fixate on what we would love them to experience.

We can predict the obvious things people want – like automatic cancellation of a card should a transaction happen in London, when the same card was used in Cape Town three hours earlier... But it’s about moving beyond this and predicting the future. To do that, you need a culture of innovation. A culture of trying to imagine the distant future. If you don’t create space to think, then no new thoughts will emerge.

Here are some other insights into trends in the client journey, now and in the future:

Covid-19 accelerated adoption of new behaviours

Many people were formerly held back by fear. Come Covid-19, they had to embrace the digital space, which accelerated migration. What we expected to take a longer time, happened very quickly. As South Africa’s largest digital bank, Capitec was prepared for this. Our digital banking clients grew by 28%, year-on-year, from March 2020 to March 2021. With digital client climbing over 8.6 million, the bank reported a 35% increase in the number of digital transactions to 1.1 billion.

The pandemic has also made us more spend-conscious in many ways. For example, the varying levels of lockdown cut down costs of eating out, fuel, etc. So, many became used to seeing more in their bank accounts and are more conscious about how they spend their money. People are also often more appreciative of the value of things like relationships with their families and their health – walking, hiking, riding a bike, learning a new skill or revisiting an old skill that you found yourself not having time to do any more, like cooking. All these factors are impacting how individuals are interacting along the client journey.

An increase in fraud

A forced acceleration in digital adoption meant that lots of people quickly had to navigate the online space – some not so digitally savvy. That created space for criminals to target vulnerable consumers. That’s why its critical consumers are consistently learning how to adopt best-practice behaviours – like never sharing sensitive information with anyone. And not choosing one’s year of birth for a pin code.

The rise of the virtual economy

Many companies are currently testing the boundaries of the digital space and introducing small and step-change products and services to streamline efficiencies, overcome complexity and give clients additional value. For example, you can now open a Capitec account via our app, simply by scanning your ID and facial biometrics.

There’ll also be sustained focus on developing the so-called virtual economy and metaverse – a shared virtual space, where the virtual and physical converge. As a business built on bricks and clicks, we’re putting a lot of effort into ensuring the clicks environment has the same principles of simplicity – ease of navigation, information, support – as you’d get in a branch.

Plugging into innovation

There’s lots of innovation happening all the time, but it sits in ecosystems that are not large enough to have the scale to allow for mass adoption. It’s a question of how we liberalise innovation fast enough. Banks can play a key role by empowering external services to plug into our mainframe through APIs, so clients have a host of services in a single space. We expect a lot of these plug-and-play partnerships going forwards.

Continued focus on AI

AI excels at giving people the information they’re looking for, quickly. In fact, Juniper Research suggests chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per year by 2022. However, hybrid models are likely to continue to dominate. Emotion is established first with an identity.

People want to know the name of the person serving them. That’s how we make sense of what we hear. It augments the recipients’ experience. So, while AI can provide answers to simple questions, like the current interest rate and when a card expires, a human interaction is often still crucial, especially when service falls short of expectations. Until a bot can interact with us the way another human would, we need humans for the soft skills, empathy and understanding.

Preempting what people want

We can predict the obvious things our clients want. Like person-to-person payments; wanting to create a withdrawal from the comfort of their home and then simply scanning a code at an ATM to complete the transaction, without having to get a card or wallet out; reminders to pay bills on time; a bank filling in a person’s balance sheet for them for a bond… But innovation is about going beyond the obvious. That’s where hiring the dreamers comes in.

Imagining the client service of tomorrow

We’re likely to see a lot more integration. How can we, as a brand, look at not just our part in the value chain, but the parts before and after us as well? The Boston Consulting Group suggests banks will also increasingly monitor clients’ financial health in order to proactively offer guidance for people to protect and grow wealth.

Hyper-personalisation is not something people want from all providers. But clients are emotionally invested in banks, as the custodians of their money. We naturally fall into a protector role and this is an extension of that.

In the future, client will realise the value they have and start to create demands aligned with this. World-class client experiences will be commonplace. Those who put effort into making their clients feel valued will win the game.

Sbusiso Kumalo is the Head of Client Experience at Capitec


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