Author: Jerry Mulle
Present digital banking platforms of the may lead to personalised banking of the past
That is a somewhat misleading headline, I admit. The future of banking will no doubt look nothing like its past, but as we start to improve our digital interactions perhaps we can regain some of the personalisation of traditional banking.
Digital banking is shaping the financial services industry, and portable and wearable devices like phones, tablets and smartwatches mean we can access our bank accounts, keep track of loan applications, or open a new account online, at any time, from anywhere and on almost any device.
Behind the scenes there is another, quieter revolution going on too, one that could be just as important and might make the future of banking look a little bit like the past.
Personalised financial advice
When I started in banking, over 25 years ago, customers would visit their local bank, sit down with the manager, and have an informed discussion about their financial circumstances.
Banks knew all about their customers. We knew what cars our customers drove, where they lived and how long they’d lived there. We knew whether Mr Smith was about to retire or Mrs Jones was going to have a baby next month and were ready, when invited, to offer timely and appropriate, personalised financial advice.
The introduction of computers lead to an explosion in product choice, convenience and speed but alongside that knowledge about individuals was lost and the personal touch gave way, all too often, to computer says no.
Although banks stored lots of information about their customers it was often spread across multiple systems that didn’t talk to each other and, most crucially, the broader context, significance and meaning of the data just wasn’t understood.
The talent of the old-fashioned bank was in its ability to treat customers as individuals and to turn the customer data it had into actionable information.
And that is why the future of banking might look a lot like the past.
Big data and digital banking platforms
Big Data and modern processing power will allow banks to view their customer data in new ways – generating unique, personal insights about the individuals they deal with.
To feed this revolution banks will once again need to become interested and inquisitive about their customers and their lives (when was the last time your bank showed an interest in what you wanted?).
But unlike the past you won’t need to schedule an interview with the bank manager to tell them.
The multitude of interfaces and devices we use to access our financial information will provide plenty of opportunities for banks to observe where our interests lie and to ask a pertinent and unobtrusive question here and there.
With our permission, modern devices can also provide valuable contextual information such as our location – information that could help banks to build up a picture of who we are, where we are and what’s important to us.
By understanding customers as individuals with personal circumstances and personal priorities the bank of the future will be there ready, when invited, to offer timely and appropriate, personalised financial advice, just like they used to be.