In a few short weeks we will be entering the third decade of the third millennium. Now, as many in the banking world are winding down and enjoying their holidays, would be a good time for us to sit back and think ahead toward the coming decade and the changes we ourselves would like to see in banking, payments and finance.
With that said, here are our three main predictions for this next decade:
1. Collaboration and Cooperation
Banking is a traditionally conservative industry. For centuries, change happened tentatively and slowly. That is likely one of the main reasons for the industry surviving as it has for so long. In recent decades, however, the pace of change has been accelerating, and there is little chance of the trend decelerating. So, brace yourselves, change will keep on coming, and there will be more of it.
In this climate, it would behoof many of us to put old rivalries and competition to rest, instead focusing on building a sustainable future we can thrive in. Whether you think of it as a grown-up version of the “buddy system” or view it as simply prudent business sense, collaboration is likely to be a necessity for prosperity. The demands put upon banks to be everything to everyone at all times are simply impossible to satisfy. Strategic partnerships provide a solution that will soon be unavoidable.
Future partnerships will go beyond the old vendor-client paradigm. Whether they like it or not, many banks will have to accept partnerships with young fintechs and big tech giants, that much is clear. Innovative and brave ones will venture forth to partner with community organisations and perhaps even governmental bodies. Such initiatives will allow banks to better integrate with their clients’ funds flow funnels and to provide better adapted services, putting them a step ahead of the competition.
2. Data and Personalised Services
Today’s consumers have grown to expect a different kind of service – adaptive, smart and deeply personal. Big Tech and smaller startups have made a livelihood of anticipating the wants and needs to users, and have taught consumers to expect similar in all walks of life. There is little reason why banks should not provide a similar level of service.
While many of us are still astounded by the amounts of data tech companies manage to collect and process, it is time for us in the banking and payments world to don our student caps and start playing catch-up. The opportunities afforded by today’s data hoards are enormous, and in the coming decade are likely to grow unimaginably larger. We now have access to a wealth of consumer data, ranging from lifestyle preferences, product ownership and purchase history to geolocation and even insights from social media.
This data could allow banks to take a much more active role, to help customers with their financial well-being and even individually tailored financial products. Providing such a genuinely useful service could go a long way to restoring the worn-out trust people have in banks.
3. Non-Traditional Finance
Fintechs have made great strides to penetrate financial services markets in recent years, and the trend is likely to accelerate. What traditional institutions have in money, infrastructure and established customer bases, fintechs make up for in speed and agility. These attributes, many of us are coming to discover, can make or break a financial institution in the new millennium. The way the payments ecosystem has changed dramatically in recent years is nothing but a preview to the changes coming to the wider financial services field.
What fintechs have is the ability to try out innovative solutions without the risk of alienating existing customers, without the weight of legacy applications, and without cumbersome internal rules and drowsy corporate cultures stifling change.
According to Acxiom, “The movement toward open banking and open APIs will only increase the speed of change as fintech business models and technologies allow them to align with new opportunities very quickly.”
In the coming decade, this ability will serve fintechs well. As they grow accustomed to the mechanics of finance, fintechs will more and more challenge entrenched players, slowly nibbling at their customer bases. Smaller and mid-tier financial institutions, lacking the heft of their larger competitors, could struggle to compete. The wiser of them will find ways to collaborate and cooperate with these upstart entrants.
How these trends will play out in the next few years remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: those who were hoping for some peace and quiet after a tumultuous decade better brace themselves for the many more small and large revolutions to come.
For the big bankers, our advice is to find those strategic partners you can believe in. Nurture them and let them take on the risks you can’t. These young upstarts could be just the engines of innovation that you desire.
And for the fintechs? Go get them and try not to get burnt out. And while you’re at it, try to find the added value you could offer to your potential larger partners. They could give that leg up over the competition.