The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly having a profound and transformative effect on the banking industry in a very short period of time. Businesses from small local shops to huge airlines across the globe are struggling, some businesses are failing, and many are clamoring for loans, bailouts and liquidity. The lack of liquidity is causing breakdowns in supply chains on an unprecedented scale, and banks are having to shore up wherever possible to help.
At the same time, banks are being forced to protect their corporate client bases as well as better serve their retail customer community. Amid all of this upheaval, the competition for loans and online, digital banking services, at both the corporate and consumer levels has heated up. As a result, banks find themselves needing to provide extensive, modern services in order to retain clients while staving off the competition. This means banks are faced with having to make fast changes to entice vulnerable customers to stay.
Also, in the beginning of 2020, there was a 20% increase in the use of digital channels and online services; and a 50% drop in ATM use on both a Pan European and global scale.
With all of this and surely more to come, I think as an industry there are things we can all do that can have lasting positive effects on the overall economy, starting with providing more digital services, streamlined payments, and better financial and user experiences.
That Path to Digital
None of the above problems are insurmountable. Fixing them is possible and even aligns with the digital strategies of many of the banks I talk to every day. But even though the digital shift can be achieved, and its benefits will be felt over time, we should be mindful that many people in the world are underbanked. They don’t have easy access to the internet or mobile technology. The underbanked may suffer the most from the financial ramifications of COVID-19 and the continued digitalization of banks, and until their capabilities change, they won’t get the same services as those with access.
Still, banks need to offer more modern forms of technology to meet the needs of all customers and business partners, and the time is now. There is already a global acceleration in the ways financial institutions are moving toward technology and adopting it. What would have taken years to develop before is now taking just months.
Big Banks, Bigger Challenges
Large, traditional brick and mortar banks are different than smaller banks, in the sense that they are encumbered by both back-end legacy systems and their internal cultures. The long, traditional processes and red tape common in these institutions often prevent them from moving quickly.
For those that choose to break tradition and embrace innovation, there’s work to be done. They need to make changes to process management, adopting and adapting to the pace and volatility in the market place. They need to meet more customer needs and be more flexible. They need to stretch boundaries and deliver compelling user experiences. For some big banks, these are monumental tasks and will require sweeping change. To others, not so much. Either way, this is what the market is demanding.
Learn from the New
There is much that can be learned by looking at successful FinTechs. A larger number of banks are forming partnerships with them to enhance their own services. In this scenario, large banks bring their name and market share to the table. Smaller FinTechs, born-in-the-cloud, and challenger banks bring modern technology and they are nimble and able to innovate faster. It makes sense for the two to partner and gain from each other’s strengths. As an example, there is a traditional bank that typically focuses on larger clients that recently partnered with a FinTech that caters to small to medium enterprises. The big bank has gained the ability to service an entire new market segment, and the FinTech has gained the backing and brand recognition of a big-name bank. This type of partnership may become quite common in the months and years to come.
From Upheaval Comes Good
Because of the pandemic, there is more widespread online banking, which means more opportunity for criminals to attack consumers, businesses and banks. Regulation across the industry is taking hold and is driving trust that is upheld by the banks. It is leading to a safer world for bank customers, setting a level playing field for the industry, and enabling safer banking for all. This is yet another wakeup call for big banks, because in general preparing for regulations takes a lot of time and effort that they have no choice but to address.
Other Industries Responding to the Shift
With more and more of a shift to digital banking, there is more drive for just-in-time service. Utilities, for example, offer online billing and usage and tie it all into financial services and the ability to pay through an online portal. Consumers expect this kind of service, where all they need is provided in one consolidated, seamless, contactless experience. Retail is also going more digital, seeing an increase of contactless transactions and cash payment.
How SEEBURGER Helps
Traditional banks often face scalability challenges, resistance to change, and entrenched processes. Complete overhauls are usually not feasible, but modernization is still possible. With our migration tools and services, we can help you build better digital capabilities quickly, including data management at the scale and speed of your business, integration to anything and end-to-end visibility. We can help you improve customer onboarding so that it is timely and seamless, and changes can be made more easily. And all of this can deployed on-premises, hybrid or in the cloud.
The long-term results of the pandemic may not be known, but they will touch all people and all industries. The whole world can benefit from the route the banks take to solve new challenges. It’s up to the banks to continue moving forward – to innovate and deliver compelling experiences with leaner, scalable solutions for all.
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Written by: Matthew BurnsMatt Burns is Senior Business Development Manager at SEEBURGER, based out of SEEBURGER’s UK office. Matt has been active in the financial services market since 1991, having worked in a variety of roles ranging from EDI and EIPP to payments, cash management and Supply Chain Financing. He has worked extensively over the years in providing software solutions to global banks, multinational corporations and FinTechs, all with the common theme of improving business process, enhancing end-to-end data management and ultimately delivering an optimum experience for the end customer. Matt hails from Cheshire in North West England where he lives on a small holding with his Wife, two children, four horses, two goats, six chickens and two cats. He enjoys marathon running, mountain biking, skiing, scuba diving, camping and progressive rock music.