Will ‘Challenger Banks’ Replace Traditional Banks?
Customers today desire 3 things: immediacy, high-quality, and personalization. Amazon is so disruptive to the retail industry because its entire strategy revolves around fulfilling these demands. The company, now worth $544 billion and growing, continuously seeks innovative ways to improve the customer experience. On the other hand, big box retail stores, which were notoriously slow digital adopters, are rapidly dwindling. Amid the rise of fintech, traditional banks are on the brink of a similar scenario. Banks today are facing a new breed of competitors: challenger banks. Preserving market share will not only require reimagining the role of technology in core business operations, but also a new outlook on the customer experience. Fintech refers to the use of new technology to provide financial services. Today, fintech organizations number in the thousands, providing everything from mobile payments to peer-to-peer lending to digital asset management. Banks, which traditionally covered all of customers’ financial needs, must now compete with emerging digital contenders, who are better equipped to provide a personalized user experience. Under the fintech umbrella, challenger banks are keen to grow their market.Challenger banks are almost exclusively digital, free from the constraints of legacy systems and high overhead costs. Unlike conventional banks, challengers are typically startups. They don’t need to undergo lengthy and expensive digital transformations — they grow from the ground up with the most innovative technology. Traditional banks cannot afford to merely be reactive in an increasingly competitive landscape. According to PwC’s 2017 Global FinTech Survey, financial industry respondents estimated at least a quarter of their business is at risk of being lost to standalone fintech companies in the next five years. To remain relevant among an increasingly selective and tech-savvy population, traditional financial services organizations must fuse innovative technology with customer service.
Have traditional banking services reached a tipping point?Traditional banks have introduced mobile technology to improve efficiency, keep up with digital trends, and satisfy customer demands. Digital transformation in the financial services sphere has made significant progress, with most mobile banking apps containing essential features. However, challenger banks pose a significant threat to traditional banks amid customers’ rising expectations for an immediate and seamless user experience. In the digital age, customers will consistently value convenience and digital efficiency over loyalty to longstanding financial institutions.
Challenger banks are nimble competitorsThe emergence of challenger banks has motivated many traditional banks to pivot their strategies in order to preserve customer loyalty. Challenger banks are designed to offer a superior customer experience at a much lower price than traditional banks. Because they aren’t responsible for the high overhead costs associated with operating large branch networks, challenger banks can typically provide more competitive interest rates. Their online-only, customizable and easy-to-use apps make them an attractive option, especially for millennials. For example, features like “digital wallets” on smartphones are becoming a preferred tool for making online and peer-to-peer payments, particularly among millennials, according to the PwC report “Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing Disruption.” This is because tools native to mobile devices, such as tap and pay, provide greater convenience than credit cards. The introduction of biometric authentication, such as fingerprint scanning and emerging facial recognition technology, also make payments via smartphones more secure. Challenger banks have been quick to adopt these capabilities.
4 innovations to make traditional banks more competitiveWhether or not challenger banks overtake traditional banking depends on the agility of this industry in implementing cutting edge technology and practices. Here are 4 ways long-established banks can use innovative technology to boost their mobile capabilities and user experience.
1. More personalized in-person experienceUnlike challenger banks, traditional banks don’t just live online. Providing excellent customer service inside brick and mortar buildings is still an important determinant of success for them. Now, these organizations can use mobile technology to bolster their in-person services. Banks can install Bluetooth beacons that automatically push notifications to users when they walk through the door. Messages could ask customers about the purpose of their visit, and if they’d like to sit down with someone. For those who already consider waiting in bank lines a thing of the past, such features could drastically boost the customer experience.
2. Greater transparency about user spendingBank apps can use data and features already available on smartphones to provide users with greater transparency about their spending. For example, users can opt to receive push notifications after every purchase. These real-time, pop-up messages can include relevant information about the amount of money spent, who the vendor is, and where the purchase was made. Access to this information not only helps users better manage spending, it can instantly draw their attention if a fraudulent purchase is made.
3. Enhanced security and accessibilityMany mobile banking apps have already implemented fingerprint authentication for logging in. Users who opt for TouchID over manual password entry have an added layer of protection from hackers. Now, with the emergence of facial recognition technology, customers will soon expect the ability to log in to their banking apps and even verify payments by simply looking at their phones. As companies continue to seek ways to prevent cybercrime and comply with stringent regulatory requirements, fraud-resistance is increasingly important. Unique identifiers, such as fingerprints and FaceID, not only strengthen security for banking apps, but they also improve accessibility. The ability to request payments, authorize transfers, and make other decisions via intelligent personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, could also drastically improve convenience. Ease-of-use is paramount to retention.
4. Instant and intelligent customer serviceSoon, integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence in banking will be the norm. Greater AI capabilities will promote self-service for customers, allowing them to resolve issues and questions on their own time. For example, AI-based client advisors will be equipped to provide customers with context-based services. And as chatbots become more prevalent within other systems and industries, customers will expect them to be present in banking, too.
Algorithms that include customers’ financial data will enable chatbots to initiate personalized dialogues and answer customers’ questions and concerns with greater efficiency. AI capabilities will help customers better manage their finances, and lend banks greater insight into their customers’ behavior and preferences.