40 years of Apple: learnings for the banking industry

On 1 April, Apple celebrated its 40th birthday. No, it’s not a late April Fool’s Day prank, the technology giant really is 40 years old.

40 years of Apple: learnings for the banking industry

As Steve Jobs said during an interview with Wired in 1996, “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” What he didn’t realise at the time was the scale of change he was about to bring to the world.

Throughout its history, Apple has transformed business and consumer interactions alike and revolutionised industries, from music to computers, from the humble alarm clock to mobile phones. It’s helped drive the mobile-centric world we live in today.

Most recently, Apple has moved to play a big role in transforming the financial services industry, in particular changing the way consumers manage their money and interact with their banks. Looking back through the last 40 years, there are three key learnings for banks and other FS providers to take from Apple’s journey:

1.       Security doesn’t mean you have to compromise on usability

Touch ID, first introduced with the launch of the iPhone 5s in September 2013, revolutionised the traditional password. Using a fingerprint to access information is simultaneously more secure than passwords and more convenient for consumers, enhancing user experience and lowering the chances of data loss.

It has, in turn, also enabled banks to make mobile banking apps much more secure and intuitive. Last year, RBS and NatWest became the first major banks to introduce Touch ID as an authentication mechanism for their banking apps and other providers, including HSBC earlier this year, have since followed the trend. The introduction of security methods such as these will see phishing attacks and identity fraud go down, whilst at the same time providing banking customers with the convenience of not having to remember multiple log-ins they have to enter manually.

2.       Banks need to adapt their digital banking strategies to changing consumer behaviour and preferences

Consumer appetite for wearables, which was arguably accelerated by the launch of the Apple Watch in April last year, provides a huge opportunity to revolutionise digital banking, making it not only more convenient, but more relatable, than ever before.

In 2013, we created the world’s first ever smartwatch bank for a wearable device, the Pebble Watch, enabling users to view their live bank balance and recent transactions with a quick glance of their wrist. Just last year, Nationwide jumped on the popularity of Apple devices, launching an app specifically for the Apple Watch in order to “give customers even greater choice about how they manage their money while on the move.”

In addition to this, our recent research shows that more than a third (37 per cent) of consumers would like to manage their finances via wearable technology if they don’t already. This provides a huge opportunity for banks to change with the times, catering to consumer demand and making their services accessible on all platforms if they don’t already.

3.       Money management doesn’t have to be painful

When consumers want something, they want it now. This is frequently referred to as the “convenience economy” – the idea that a quick Uber ride or a tasty Chinese takeaway are only a tap of your phone away.  

When it comes to payment and other financial technology, consumers expect no different. Apple paved the way with the introduction of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to its iPhone 6 and 6S last year, giving consumers a secure – yet quick and easy – way to make smaller purchases.

Since then, various other providers have been busy exploring how they might be able to improve the process of mobile banking. The most recent of these is Santander, which recently announced its customers can now talk to their SmartBank app and ask about their spending card transactions. Innovative mobile technology can play a transformational role within which banks add value – keeping things fair for customers, whilst increasing speed and ease of use.

Whilst recent banking developments represent a great win for consumers, the pace of innovation means that banks should continually be exploring ways to incorporate new features into the banking products they offer. This will enable them to ensure their customers can manage their money in the easiest, most useful and safest way possible.

Throughout its history, Apple has pioneered and transformed a multitude of industries. Banking is no different, and as Apple continues to innovate, banks and other FS providers will need to keep watch to ensure they follow suit in their footsteps.