The banks of the future are already here. How do clients perceive the banking revolution and why is digitalization playing a crucial role in transforming the banking industry
The accelerated development of technology over the last decade has led to the transformation of the banking industry. Fighting for customers` attention, banks have chosen to digitize not only their operations, but also their business model as a whole and the way in which they communicate with their clients. In this dynamic context, one might ask how do users perceive these changes and what are their expectations when it comes to the future of banking?
During this summer`s most important conference on the banking industry, which took place in Bucharest, executive directors, CEOs and the managers of the largest banking institutions in Romania thoroughly debated the transformations of local banks in recent years, customer expectations and how banks should align to international trends.
It was widely agreed that the future of banking is mostly digital, although human interaction will not completely disappear from the financing services, since face-to-face communication still provides an element of comfort for clients, especially when faced with the complexity of the services they access. Thus, although the human factor will continue to play a significant role in the banking business, technology is already making an essential contribution to the operations – with an impact on the brand, infrastructure and digital distribution.
“The bank of the future will be digital or it won’t exist at all”
The bank of the future will be digital, or it will lose all relevance prompting it to disappear from the attention and preferences of customers. In addition, banks will have to offer increased speed, flexibility, agility and customer interaction at any time and in any situation. Romanian consumers are looking for speed, for a good interaction with specialists by phone, for superior web banking services and wearables accessories connected to banking services. They have unlimited access to high-speed Internet and are not afraid to use, they often use the card their daily payments and prefer contactless transactions. Moreover, according to banking associations, 60% of the country’s population use banking services, and Romanians rank 5th in Europe and 10th in the world in terms of the number of contactless transactions they make, according to the latest studies.
In fact, for more than a year, mobile payments have especially gained traction in Romania: important banks, operators and telecom producers have all launched the first mobile wallets, and adoption has been quick, with this type of payments becoming more and more visible in the total number of transactions performed at national level.
Customers want fast services, online loans, mobile payments and personal banker
Despite the openness for the innovative use of technology in banking, the penetration of banking services in Romania is still very low compared to the other European countries and digitization can play a key role in increasing it. At this time, Romania is divided in two: one category of the population (accounting for 40%) lives in rural areas and has no access to banking services, does not have a credit or a debit card, does not know how to use a POS and does not even have access to an ATM, while the other part (60% of the population) can be summed up by a multinational employee, who drinks his morning coffee from Starbucks, drives electric scooters, uses Revolut and Apple Pay and wants as much digital services as possible; this latter does not like having to go to a physical bank, but is instead, looking for personal bankers. Analysts point out that banks target everyone in order to promote their financial services and plan their business strategies taking into account both of these realities.
So, what are the main trends in the bank of the future? Some of them are a reality already, some are undergoing transformation and only a few remain at a project stage.
- Banking operations will become mostly digital – there won`t be a laboratory specialized on digital services and employees will have to think and act digitally, because tomorrow’s customers will be 100% digital;
- The number of bank branches will decrease in the following years, while the digitalization level will increase;
- In the future, banks will grant fully digital loans. This is currently happening both in Romania and abroad, yet now, only 20% of the loans is granted in this way;
- Customers want efficient communication and transparent and personalized services from banks, both in the present and in the future; Remote video interaction will also play an increasingly important role;
- Banks will sign partnerships with more and more fintechs, non-banking companies providing financial services. This is already happening, both in Romania and especially at a global level;
- Smarter and more “human” robots and chatbots will be promoted – the bank of the future, at least in the retail area, will be a bank based on artificial intelligence. However, bankers will not disappear altogether, since someone will still need to think about processes and systems and also communicate with customers, depending on the level of complexity of the services offered;
- Security will become increasingly important, and new methods of identification and authentication based on personal characteristics (fingerprint, facial identification) will be widely used.
The mission of IT solutions providers in the digitalization of the banking system
Given all these trends in the banking industry, IT&C companies` partnerships with banking institutions will become a regular occurrence. Moreover, the responsibility of these providers will reach new proportions, taking into account technological progress, but also the customers` expectations – they are more and more agile and more and more digital – as well as the banks` expectations – namely the need for increasing revenues and profitability, reducing the costs regarding back-office operations, digital transformation, migration to cloud services, mobility, IoT, attracting customers, increasing bank financing and so on.
The optimization of banking branch networks, in terms of number, size and performance of the branches, and especially the optimization of the infrastructure of these networks is a priority of banks everywhere. Digitalization solutions in this area include the implementation of an integrated multichannel infrastructure and specialized digital consulting for real-time banking, but also the efficiency of sales through digital channels, the configuration of behaviors and tools, the promotion of paperless operations, the automation of processes and the governance of information.
The multi-channel customer experience – which is a combination of online and offline activities – can be improved through dedicated (remote or digital) consulting services. Moreover, customers can communicate with bank specialists anytime, from anywhere (24/7 dedicated customer service), as well as receive financial products and services according to their preferences and needs through specially chosen channels. The reduction of costs made possible by the implementing of digital, paperless operations, as well as electronic document and file management are some of the most flexible and easy ways to quickly and securely access information from anywhere, anytime, using any type of device (including mobile devices).
Star Storage has invested considerably in building an expanded a portfolio of IT solutions for digitalization, multi-channel communication and for increasing the efficiency of the processes specific to the banking industry. StarCapture and SEAL are two mature software platforms, developed by Star Storage and implemented globally by top clients, based on which business solutions specific to the financial services industry were built and implemented. Many banking institutions and insurance companies, present in Romania, but also international names, successfully use these solutions to implement digital office and paperless operations, to optimize back-office processes and reduce costs, to attract and retain consumers through multi-channel platforms, real-time banking, GDPR compliance, product and service portfolio management, efficient mobile sales teams, debt recovery management, as well as information governance, electronic archiving and business records keeping policies, in accordance with the strictest regulations of the industry and existing legislation.
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