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Optimized reality: Why banks must meet people where they are

  • Mark Sullivan

    Former Global Business Leader, Banking & Capital Markets

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In banking, there was a time when opening branches was a sign of success. When you have customers lining up at the door, you need to expand and grow. Today, banking is delivered to retail and commercial customers in the form of websites, portals, and mobile banking apps. But in the future, customers will want banking to be fully embedded in their everyday lives and experiences.

By 2025, new digital capabilities will allow banks to tune in to the state of people's minds and their needs on a more subconscious level. This is optimized reality.

Banking solutions for the individual

In an optimized-reality world, customers will expect the companies they engage with to anticipate their needs and behaviors and be woven into their lives. In this new world, banks will need to deliver hyper-personalized solutions.

To get there, banks must ask themselves, “How do we create bespoke, personal financial products for the individual – not for an industry, not for a segment or a group, but for a single customer?" The harder banks push toward making the experience in financial services about the specifics of the individual, the more success I believe they will have.

From product-led and siloed to experiential and agile

Historically, banks were known for manufacturing products – creating and marketing an auto loan, for example. Now, they're shifting towards engineering experiences. Instead of selling an auto loan, they're facilitating a car-buying experience.

Imagine a customer who walks into a car dealership. His phone buzzes with an alert from his bank, pre-qualifying him for a loan, and it's just enough to cover the very vehicle he's had his eye on. Real-time offers are a leap ahead from where banks are today. But it's where the industry is headed.

Digital advice on your own terms

Optimized reality means being available in real time and in situ. Some first movers are already taking steps in this direction. For example, Cognito is a white-label chatbot platform that banks can use to integrate with popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger or Skype to offer loan guidance to customers. In this way, banking is accessible in the place, and in the way, that customers prefer to interact.

Biometric banking

A voice. A smile. A heartbeat. In the future, this is how banks' customers will make digital payments while protecting their privacy and confidentiality.

In China, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial launched Smile to Pay, an automatic payment system that authorizes payment using facial recognition. And Trove's wristwatch offers a new digital wallet that recognizes the wearer's unique heartbeat and uses it as a mode of verification. By 2025, authentication will occur at this more subconscious level.

Contextual experiences

Digital technology has already started to bring financial services to customers whenever and wherever they need them most. In the future, the industry will need to move from digital banking to contextual, embedded experiences.

Being more nimble, efficient, and responsive can sometimes feel like a stretch for large traditional banks. However, the sector is now up against the user-experience ninjas of tech firms that are setting new standards for service. This is a challenge for banks with creaking IT infrastructure often dating back 30 years or more. However, those banks that connect, predict, adapt, and embed AI because their neural wiring will evolve into instinctive enterprises and thrive in 2025 and beyond.

To learn more, read my prior post in this series, Banking trends to expect by 2025 and download Genpact's report, Banking in the age of instinct.

Visit our banking in the age of instinct page