Bank of the future

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The bank of the future is one that’s capable of using intelligence, automation and technology to meet the hyper-personalisation demands of the customer, by Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO

The bank of the future is described by McKinsey as one that can leverage automation and artificial intelligence to guide customer engagement. It is, as the research firm points out, a pivotal movement for banking. Disruption is not just for technology, healthcare and retail. FinTechs are introducing disruptive digital capabilities that meet ever-changing customer requirements. However, even disruption in the financial sector isn’t simple.

The traditional financial institution, with its depth and legacy functionality, is best placed to deal with the regulatory and structural mandates imposed on the sector. With regulations such as POPIA and GDPR leading a charge of more than 150 different global Acts and compliance requirements, traditional banks are best placed to manage their weight. However, the digital-native is better placed to introduce innovation and transformation, providing customers with the financial services that they want. At the speed they want. And that can pivot to adapt when these wants change. According to PwC, around 90% of global financial services companies are concerned they are losing ground to FinTechs, while McKinsey found that 40% of decision-makers have an account with a FinTech company.

This makes competition fierce, and the need to differentiate and disrupt existing platforms is increasing. The same PwC research above found that 56% of financial institutions are now focusing on disruption, putting it at the centre of their strategic planning. Which is one of the reasons why companies within the sector are looking to intelligent and automated solutions to streamline customer experiences and add more value to their transactions.

Most customers would prefer to access self-service options when engaging with their banks or their money. They want simple and accessible platforms that allow them to undertake basic tasks without lengthy queues – this has fundamentally changed over the past 18 months – and long call-waiting times. In fact, prior to the pandemic, only 12% of customers would leave their bank for another – this rose to 27% for 2020-2022. The primary reason was reduced satisfaction, but consumers were also interested in better fees, lower costs, and better service.

For the banking sector, this is a challenge, and one that can be met by establishing better relationships with customers by using tools that can be customised to meet changing consumer demands. This means investing into solutions such as WhatsApp that are bolstered by intelligent chatbots that are capable of meeting very specific business use cases. WhatsApp is currently the most popular global mobile messenger app in the world with around two billion monthly active users so it makes sense to leverage this popularity alongside AI and automation tools to connect with an increasingly discontent customer base.

WhatsApp chatbots can help the financial sector to measurably improve customer service. With a solid implementation, this combination can be used to provide immediate and convenient services to customers. The platform can be used to notify customers of specific issues or news, and can be used by customers to gain immediate assistance on a small or very specific issue. The ubiquity of this is further enhanced by the fact that WhatsApp can be used on tablets, mobile devices and desktops so its got reach, and scale. By adding another channel to the business, one that’s dedicated to customer service, financial institutions are adding a layer of disruptive ingenuity to their business.

While there is no perfect route to ensuring that a business is capable of withstanding the onslaughts of uncertainty and mercurial customers, WhatsApp can help the business to improve how it manages customer applications from within the contact centre – they can conveniently submit supporting documents or files while on a call; it can improve revenue collections by making it easier for customers to settle costs, and it can automate processes so customers can easily and quickly manage contracts and terms and conditions without hassle.

The future of the sector will be fought on the battleground of ingenuity, innovation and intelligence, and by meeting the customer’s need well beyond halfway. It’s a future that isn’t defined by the size of the business or digitally native it is, but how cleverly the business uses this technology to shape engagement and services.