What are the game changer trends for retail banking?

The banking industry has always adapted well to new challenges but as consumers become more digitally driven, optimising technology is now the number one priority for banks around the world. Over the past couple of decades the banking industry has witnessed major transformations which have included internet banking, contactless payments and self service solutions, bringing in a new breed of customer and user expectation, writes Gopal Kutwaroo

The banking industry has always adapted well to new challenges but as consumers become more digitally driven, optimising technology is now the number one priority for banks around the world. Over the past couple of decades the banking industry has witnessed major transformations which have included internet banking, contactless payments and self service solutions, bringing in a new breed of customer and user expectation, writes Gopal Kutwaroo

Over the next year, we will see dramatic changes in both how customers interact with banks and how this impacts revenue streams in retail banking. Here are my top three trends:

The rise of mobile

One of the biggest challenges currently facing many banks is how to make their mobile solutions truly useful for their customer base. According to industry analyst Juniper over one billion mobile phone users will use their devices for banking purposes by 2017, compared to 590 million this year.

Therefore it’s integral that banks adopt the right mobile technology early on, as this trend will gather speed over the coming years. While there is no perfect solution to how this is done, and each bank will have its own approach to mobile, the most important thing for banks to remember is the need to offer customers the experience they want to use and adapt to their needs and changing demands.

Branch transformation

It is clear that bank customers want and expect a physical presence in close proximity to where they work or live, but changing dynamics that include online and mobile banking are reducing traffic coming into the branch.

This is making a financial institution’s branch strategy a challenging one and many banks are looking at their current infrastructure to improve customer experience and optimise costs through technology. Measures such as improving digital signage and increasing self-service will be key to adapting to changing consumer demands and keeping branch banking relevant.

It will also help banks keep their branch operations as cost-effective as possible. By adopting new technologies that can increase automation there is less requirement, for example, for tellers to be stuck behind a screen performing non-revenue generating work. Instead tellers can become sellers, getting out onto the branch floor and speaking to customers about activities that will generate revenue for the bank such as loans or mortgages.

Multi-channel integration

While many banks have made great strides in extending their brands to mobile and online platforms, the next step is to integrate these consumer experiences so that banking customers can begin in one channel such as mobile and seamlessly move to other channels such as ATMs and online banking.

For example technologies now exist that enable customers to book an appointment through the internet, a mobile device or a self-service terminal. This allows customers to view and select appointments in real-time providing more choice through different channels. Banks should not underestimate the importance of integrating these channels with their physical branches as customers still rate personal interaction as very important.

Retail banking has changed significantly in the past few years. Gone are the days where customers stood in long queues in a branch, waiting to make a transfer to another account. Customers are actively being enticed with new digital advancements such as phone apps, mobile wallets and online banking.

With the proliferation of new channels for customers to bank, financial institutions will need to integrate these into existing infrastructure and focus more firmly on what customers want. The banks that become the earlier adopters of these new technologies will undoubtedly be best positioned to lead the industry forward.