If you’re like most people who work in Australia’s banking and financial services sector, chances are you’ve noticed that the industry is undergoing considerable change. Bank branches are downsizing as customers opt to conduct transactions online. Digital wallets are becoming increasingly common. And traditional banks are facing competition from non-traditional players like Amazon and Google.
So which emerging technologies are set to have the biggest impact on banks and financial services over coming months? Let’s take a closer look.
Blockchain is best known as the technology that makes cryptocurrencies possible. However, as a secure online ledger that maintains highly accurate, authenticated records, its potential applications extend far beyond Bitcoin, especially in banking. They include:
- Settling equity trades instantly instead of two days after trade
- Replacing paper guarantees for commercial property leasing, as successfully trialled by ANZ and Westpac this year
- Speeding up cross-transfer payments while making international transfers more transparent
- Allowing banks to create their own cryptocurrencies to rival Bitcoin, Ether etc.
Blockchain could one day also save banks time and money by eliminating manual processes related to customer identification. Because changes to the blockchain ledger are reflected in all copies of the ledger, customers would only need to verify their identity once - not every time they move money or exchange contracts.
Internet of Things
According to Gartner, the world will be home to 25 billion connected devices (i.e phones, wearables, watches, TVs, vehicles, thermostats and even vending machines) by 2020. For banks and financial services firms, there are countless opportunities to benefit from the Internet of Things (IoT), including:
- Generating data that helps banks better serve customers - i.e. geolocation data from mobile phones can help banks understand the most popular times for branch visits and roster staff accordingly, or identify high traffic areas to install new ATMs.
- Offering customers context-sensitive rewards - i.e. rewarding customers for purchases in real-time with offers from nearby stores.
- An improved ability to anticipate customer’s needs - i.e. by accessing IoT data to predict what customers will want, and offer relevant products and solutions to support informed financial decision-making.
From predictive analytics to chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform both front and back office operations in banking. In Australia, for example, NAB has rolled out a virtual banking assistant that uses AI to answer questions previously handled by staff, while ANZ allows customers to authorise transfers from a mobile device using voice authenticated technology.
Overseas, India’s ICICI Bank has deployed artificially intelligent software robots in over 200 processes, reducing its customer response time by 60 percent. As the bank grows, AI is helping ICICI Bank to scale to meet demand without significantly increasing headcount.
If you haven’t heard of open banking, it’s only a matter of time. Investopedia describes open banking as “a system that provides a user with a network of financial institutions’ data through the use of application programming interfaces, better known as APIs.”
Open banking is expected to improve the banking experience by:
- Giving customers greater control over their financial data, and who can access it
- Encouraging competition and collaboration between the big four banks, fintech companies and smaller and newer banks
- Unlocking new revenue streams by providing banks with access to data from more sources
- Making it easier for customers to switch from one bank to another
While some banks are understandably concerned about the rise of open banking, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, open banking presents a powerful opportunity for banks to change the nature of their customer relationships. Instead of just facilitating transactions, for example, they can help customers to manage all aspects of their finances, including budgeting and household spending.
With banking technology evolving rapidly, there’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time to work in banking and financial services. With the pace of technological change increasing, however, organisations in these industries can’t afford to get complacent. Staying current with emerging technologies and trends is essential for maintaining a competitive edge.
For more information about digital trends in banking, download our latest white paper.