The world of banking is changing fast. Thanks to the rise of payment apps and fintech startups, consumers — especially millennials and Gen Z — now expect fast, personalized help, not only with basic banking, but with loans, investing, trading, and financial planning. And they don’t want to drive to a branch and stand in line to get it.
New self-service apps and digital-only banks are increasingly pulling market share from legacy financial institutions. While the financial industry is naturally risk-adverse, it needs to adapt — or die. Unless they change their current operating models, digitalization will make most traditional banks irrelevant by 2030, Gartner predicts.
The digital movement began with apps offering easy payments and deposits from mobile devices. Most banks now offer these services as well.
Demand increased heavily during the pandemic, when 58% of U.S. consumers purposely avoided visiting physical branches, according to IDC Insights’ 2020 Cross-Industry Consumer Response to COVID-19 survey. Today, 89% of U.S. respondents say they use mobile banking channels, and 70% of say mobile banking has become the primary way to access their accounts, according to a survey by Insider Intelligence.
But fintech innovations don’t stop there. Digital-only banks such as Chime, SoFi, and Current have no physical presence whatsoever, and give customers the convenience of online checking and savings accounts, credit cards, and even mortgage loans.
These online banks, also known as neobanks, save money by not having to lease or maintain buildings, and many offer customers lower fees and higher yields than traditional competitors. And unlike legacy banks, which are laden with legacy technology, they make online services such as opening a checking account or processing payments quick and simple.
These features make the neobanks poised for massive growth. There are currently nearly 30 million digital bank account holders, a number predicted to grow to nearly 48 million—17.9% of the U.S. population—by 2024, according to Insider Intelligence.
But traditional banks don’t have to stand by and watch digital competitors eat their lunch. By modernizing their technology, they can offer customers a much broader array of digital services—both on their own or through connecting partner sites—while maintaining their rigorous governance and security standards throughout.
When Denmark’s biggest bank wanted to allow customers to access a variety of services on any device, it worked with HCL to create a common digital platform. This method proved much easier and cost-effective than trying to manage multiple online solutions on different technology stacks, as the bank had previously tried to do.
The responsive new platform automatically adapts its content layout to the channels and devices customers use, providing the same kind of effortless access as its digital competitors, but with strong security and consistent branding.
Banks can also grow their customer base with data analytics. When Gartner asked banking IT leaders which technology capabilities they saw as crucial to their organization’s evolution, data analytics and artificial intelligence topped the list. Using AI-based analytics, banks can attract younger, high-lifetime-value customers and deepen the relationships over time with content and services relevant to their changing needs.
Competing with fintechs isn’t an option for today’s banks — it’s a necessity. The good news is, with the right tools and the right partners, they can catch up quickly while continuing to capitalize on their longstanding reputations and outstanding security.
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