There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at the issue of banking, hearing from Allison Beer, Marion Owczarczak-Fogli, Elliott Limb and Anders la Cour on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
Banks and the financial services that they provide have never been more important to consumers than this year. With peoples personal and business financial situations facing the ups and downs of the pandemic, banks have been crucial in their offerings of loans, credit and other services to keep people afloat. In this View from the Top, companies JP Morgan Chase, Alpian, Mambu and Banking Circle outline their own 2020 experience.
Allison Beer is Head of Digital for Consumer & Community Banking at JPMorgan Chase, an American investment bank and financial services company, helping them to lead digital innovation in the financial services industry. She believes that the digital transformation has been a key feature of 2020.
“Covid-19 has re-shaped our daily lives—including how we manage our money. Social distancing measures have driven consumers to use digital features more frequently to pay bills, deposit checks or send money to friends and family from home.
“This year, consumers were even more interested in the convenience of managing their finances from their mobile phone, especially older adults who have typically been more resistant to banking digitally (in 2020, half of Chase’s new digitally active customers are over 50). Here are three key trends we witnessed, and that we anticipate will continue in 2021:
“Firstly, digital payments became even more popular, as this contactless way to pay (in real-time) was not only a safer solution but also more convenient. Between September 2019 – September 2020, the Zelle Network processed more than one billion payment transactions. We expect consumers to continue to use digital payments even more frequently next year.
“Secondly, helping customers focus on what matters most to them has become even more important. Automation, especially for bill payments and savings, has made it effortless for consumers to stay on top of their finances.
“Finally, we expect digital banking to become even more personalised, helping foster deeper engagement with customers and their bank’s features and services. Today, customers can use our mobile app to get tailored offers to save at popular merchants and view unique insights about their spending and savings trends or credit score to make more informed financial decisions.
Marion Owczarczak-Fogli, the Managing Director at Alpian, a Swiss-based financial services company offering digital banking and personal wealth management through their app. Marion is an experienced professional in leading digital transformation projects for the wealth management industry and believes 2021 will bring an increase in demand for “true wealth” services.
“The world of finance has had to consider industry disruption for years now. But in 2020, the whole world has been forced to come to terms with a more existential disruption brought about by pandemic. While this accelerated many pre-existing trends for the financial sector, such as digitisation and the increased use of mobile, it’s also had a more sudden impact on the values that many of us hold dear. Working from home, with more free time on our hands balanced out by limited freedom of movement, has caused a re-evaluation of priorities.
“Whether it’s forging ahead with a new career, seeing more of the world when we can again, or spending more time with our families (or dogs!), wealth is more than what’s in our wallets and bank accounts. We call this holistic view “True Wealth”. In 2021 we expect to see more and more people start to look to their financial providers to support them in achieving this. The good news is technology can help unlock this for a greater proportion of the population in Europe. Automation and AI will allow banks to truly understand the goals of investors, offering them personalised investment services, enabling them to reach their potential. While the last 12 months have been undeniably challenging, we are highly optimistic that next year will be full of opportunity for innovators who are prepared to take risks and work in an agile manner.”
Elliott Limb is the chief customer manager at Mambu, an SaaS cloud banking platform. With over 20 years of experience in banking and fintech, he also believes that the rise of digital has been the biggest 2020 shift.
“The move away from customer-centric banking was so gradual that we barely noticed it. There was a time when having a personal relationship with your local branch manager who you met with regularly, understood your finances and gave you advice was commonplace.
“Digital technology changed this, focusing on convenience, increasing competition and making the mobile customer experience the key differentiator. While these advancements have benefited customers in many ways, in some instances it has placed the emphasis away from the customer-centric model which once defined banking.
“The emergence of Covid-19 made this increasingly apparent and highlighted that there is still a need for relationship banking, particularly for vulnerable and non-digital customers. The crisis impacted many people’s financial stability and gave rise to many questions on the support available to customers. Furthermore, customers availing from banking services during this time that typically required face-to-face interaction, such as mortgages, were now moving through this process digitally.
“At the same time, we reached a critical mass of new entrants. Banks are now faced with having to adjust and ward off competition, while also maintaining the relationship with customers who favour traditional banks and processes, as well as those who prefer digital banking.
“Covid-19 has emphasised the different needs of customers depending on their situation and demonstrated the importance of focusing on bespoke and personalised services dependent upon customers’ individual needs and wants. We will see a return to relationship banking in 2021 as a priority but now combined with the convenience and benefits offered by digital banking. It’s a delicate balance, but employing the right technology will be critical for banks to deal with customers in the right way, according to their expectations.”
Anders la Cour is Co-Founder and CEO of Banking Circle, a fully licensed bank delivering compliant and secure financial infrastructure at low cost. In his opinion, understanding your customers has never been more important than this year.
“Amidst the turmoil and uncertainty 2020 brought, it has never been more important to keep in touch with the market. As restrictions shifted multiple times throughout the year, businesses in all industries have had to adapt quickly to continue delivering what their customers need and stay competitive. In the financial industry, we have seen impressive innovation and a rapid acceleration of existing digitalisation plans. Banks and Payments businesses were able to serve their customers effectively even as their needs changed month to month.
“At Banking Circle, we have spent the year getting closer than ever to our market and the businesses we serve. We carried out several industry studies and published the findings to help the market learn, adapt and grow. We found that banks have found the move to digital services to be a major challenge, but they are increasingly open to collaboration with external providers so they can deliver the latest solutions for their customers. Our research found that 80% of retail banks and 74% of commercial banks have already worked with infrastructure providers such as Banking Circle.
“As the world looks forward to 2021 and the prospect of living in a Post-Covid world, we expect to see innovation, adaptability and collaboration continue to increase. Businesses of all types are seeing the benefits of working together to design and launch new solutions, and that is a trend that will become a positive Covid legacy.”