Banks and Technology
It is almost impossible not to get excited about the promise of a better life thanks to the miracle of technology these days. There is no industry to have escaped having been gripped by the enthusiasm and the financial industry is no exception.
Amongst all the commercial fields, banking is in a league of its own. It offers its clients a series of products indeed but it serves as much more than that. Guardians of trust and data and having to heavily rely on technology while providing a service of vital importance in the consumer’s life, banks have to make and sell something but also concern themselves with moral imperatives and existential questions at the same time—an ask no other industry has to face.
To consumers, money and their relationship to it are of paramount importance; they expect it to flow into their lives in a straightforward way without having to concern themselves with the mechanisms that enable it.
Today it is well understood by all parties that the customer seeks a simple, clear and efficient interaction with their bank whenever they have a financial need, irrespective of whether that interaction takes place in person or online. Banks are taking on that challenge and while some would argue they do so in a maddeningly slow fashion, they are changing their offering to respond to that expectation from the consumer.
It isn’t an easy task. Unchanged for hundreds of years, the relationship with their consumers has taken a quick turn over recent years with the advent of digital channels. This has seen most banks scramble to put together what is necessary for the front-end of online and mobile apps while discovering that their back-ends, the systems that had carried them through that far, are not up for the challenge of supporting this transition but are instead antiquated and strained.
A handful of banks realized that the only sustainable answer to this problem is to perform deep change–new people, replacement of back-end systems, and a First Principles approach to designing the front-end experience. Most banks, however, haven’t been able to do that being either devoid of means or clarity for the imperative and have instead continued with their existent capabilities and created experiences without forethought or intentionality.
This course of action, coupled with the fact that banks have traditionally not had in-field competition—with consumers remaining extremely immobile within financial services—as well as banks’ utter lack of ability around important topics such as understanding branding and experience design, has quickly created a difficult situation for traditional financial institutions that finds them offering subpar digital experiences to the consumers.
The difficulty consists of the market pressure they find themselves in. All of a sudden, over the course of the last 10-15 years, the advent of digital aided by the breakneck speed of technology advances have opened the field to competition.
These days, banks no longer loosely compare against each other, but have found themselves in direct competition with new market entrants varying from small challenger banks to established technology giants, all armed with technology they can employ much faster, stronger ability and a habit of creating delightful experiences with the consumer at heart, and an appetite for the financial services pie.
To retain their consumers, banks are no longer only required to provide the already challenging golden standard of ease and efficiency, but match the level of delight that some of these new competitors can offer their consumers, in well-thought-out experiences, that serve their financial lives in a seamless and pleasant fashion.
Without the constraints of antiquated legacy software systems and deeply seated organizational challenges, these new competitors will not be building banking products but true “Money Moments”—intensely relevant and deeply significant.
Banks need a quick path to change to stand a fighting chance.
Emotional Banking™ is the first theory to recognize that the only way for banks to create a lasting, happy relationship with their clients and compete in this new landscape is for them to quickly change culture in order to enable them to investigate the customers’ feelings in depth, put them at the very middle of the proposition and leverage FinTech and the new ways of work to deliver emotionally connected Money Moments in lieu of banking products.
Consumer expectations are changing the game irrespectively and propositions need to change accordingly. Alternatively, banks will quickly see the same fate as other extinct industries that have bowed down to technology-enabled new business models and will at best be reduced to a “dumb pipes” state where they offer services or lease back-end solutions to these new entrants. Moreover, whether they realize it or not, the horizon for this change is extremely short and change is not only imperative but also urgent.
To compete in making their clients happy, the transformation banks need to undertake is a monumental task akin to the industrial revolution. While this transformation needs to cover all the connected systems, it mainly has to focus on a mentality change that needs to go down to DNA level. Organizational change in tandem with technology change and a complete revamp of their sets of belief in one fell swoop is undoubtedly a tall order, but one that banks can’t shy away from should they have an ambition to remain in the business of connecting people with their money.
Duena Blomstrom, author of Emotional Banking: Fixing Culture, Leveraging FinTech, and Transforming Retail Banks into Brands, is a well-respected thought leader in FinTech, an independent digital banking and CX consultant, an entrepreneur and angel investor, a mentor to startups, a blogger with cutting edge opinion style named as one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices, a public speaker at industry events and the inventor of the Emotional Banking and EX concepts.