EXCLUSIVE: ‘Z is for…’ – Ruby Walia and Matt Williamson, Mobiquity; Jorge Camargo, Bank of America in ‘The Fintech Magazine’
A ‘TikTok’ generation that will be looking for a new relationship with financial providers in 10 years’ time. We asked Mobiquity’s Ruby Walia and Matt Williamson, and Jorge Camargo from Bank of America what five key trends will define banking by then
Big banks need to adapt for the future, we all acknowledge that. But what’s the best way for them to do so, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of emerging customers?
COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns catapulted investment into digital banking services, as branches shuttered worldwide. And while these changes were undeniably already underway, the pandemic certainly accelerated the technological revolution.
The benefits of this trend– and it’s a well-rehearsed argument – are twofold. Customers enjoy more personalised services, as and when they need them, while banks can make efficiency savings by migrating transactions from high-cost, analogue channels to digital ones. Everybody wins.
But what about Generation Z – some of whom are not yet out of primary school, while others are just embarking on their careers – the next customer group that banks need to capture? While it’s true that their entire digital experience has been in the age of the iPhone – which, according to Mobiquity’s Ruby Walia, a senior adviser for digital banking, has been an impetus for banks to rework how they interact with all their clients – it would be entirely wrong to assume they eschew any form of human interaction. Indeed, a survey in November 2021 by UK neo business bank Cynergy, among 500 18 to 34 year olds, revealed they thought bank and customer relationships had suffered due to the digital revolution: 64 per cent believed it had resulted in a reduced understanding of their customer needs – in fact, they were more disenchanted by the changes than those over 35.
Bank of America invests more than $3billion a year in technology, while also maintaining a branch network of more than 4,000 financial centres in order to offer the ‘high-tech, high-touch’ approach that this more socially-engaged, thoughtful generation appears to demand. Jorge Camargo, SVP and head of web and app products at the bank, says it understands that customers want access to staff for complex transactions and advice, while acknowledging that all banks need to adopt what Matt Williamson, global VP of financial services at Mobiquity, describes as a ‘three clicks or less’ customer service culture.
In 10 years’ time the last of the TikTok generation will be embarking on careers, moving into higher education, starting families perhaps… and where will banks be then? Pushing up the financial daisies or, having correctly predicted customer needs, getting down with the kids? Here are five trends that Walia, Williamson and Camargo believe banks need to get right in the next decade if they are to respond to a generation of digitally native, yet environmentally and socially-conscious, customers.
“It’ll be almost as if your bank is now this virtual friend, sitting on your shoulder, following you round as you go about your daily life,” says Walia. “In 10 years’ time, the financial ecosystem that surrounds you will know all kinds of information about you as a consumer, as an individual, and you will feel comfortable sharing that private data because it’s being used to your benefit.”
Banking-as-a-platform and artificially intelligent data analytics will be the technologies that serve up this ubiquitous service, enabled by smartphones on the one hand and open banking on the other.
“Ubiquitous banking will be there with you every step of the way, guiding you through financial decisions you need to make – from small ones such as ‘where should I go for dinner?’ to larger ones like ‘when can I buy a house?’, and providing such services in a seamless, accessible form,” adds Walia.
Bank of America is among those exploring this Jiminy Cricket-style relationship with consumers. Last year, it launched its Life Plan digital experience, which enables customers to select, prioritise and make progress towards meeting their most important life goals across areas such as finances, family, home, work and leisure. So far, five million clients have used the personalised banking service.
“By 2030, there are going to be more grandparents than there are grandchildren in the world,” says Camargo. But these aren’t the kind of gramps who wrap their debit cards in silver foil to protect them from fraudsters.
“The stereotype of the grandparent that has to go into the branch because they are averse to technology will no longer exist. Rather, the tech-savvy senior will be one that is very comfortable with digital solutions and will go between digital and physical seamlessly.”
Following close behind will be a generation whose experience of the world has been framed by TikTok – small bites of information delivered in a fun, entertaining, addictive format. Camargo believes it’s only a matter of time before we see the ‘TikTokisation of finance’;banks will learn how to blend financial education into bite-sized content and insights, all the while keeping it an enjoyable and seamless experience for customers – a bit like the social video app. That will prompt interactions that help banks discover what their customer wants to achieve in life and then, seamlessly, guide them in that direction by using what Camargo calls ‘micro-moments’.
“Learning about finance doesn’t have to feel like a chore,” he says. “You want customers to think, ‘that’s interesting,’ or ask questions about changing their behaviour in order to achieve better financial outcomes.”
We saw what TikTok did for sea shanties, perhaps a bank could go viral, too?
‘Hi, I’m Erica!’
Banks will extend their customer experience by using more channels to enable those interactions.
“It’s going to be less about what’s a preferred channel of interaction and more about the most appropriate channel of interaction at any moment,” says Walia. Voice technology – such as Bank of America’s virtual voice assistant, Erica, is increasingly popular and particularly helpful if you’re in a private space, such as your car or at home. At other times, and in public spaces, a text-based virtual assistant may be more convenient.
Walia also expects transactions to increasingly start and end on different channels. He paints a picture of a customer getting in from work and saying to the room ‘how much do I spend on restaurants?’, to which Erica answers with a number far higher than they imagined. With the Internet of Things having established that the client is alone, a list of restaurants visited in the last month could then be displayed on the big-screen TV for their reference – even if it’s not exactly what they wanted to learn! “The technology ecosystem is leveraging your surroundings,” says Walia. “The system knows where you are and what your privacy context is, allowing it to move from one channel of interaction to another,”.
The values piece
Consumers across all sectors, including banking, are becoming increasingly environmentally and socially aware. Younger customers often have very different values to previous generations and are hyper-conscious of how and where their money is spent.
“A lot of their decision-making is about authenticity and aligning with brands that fit their own values, as well as the user experience,” says Williamson.
But, while there is a broad movement towards more socially-responsible governance, banks need to lead by example, he believes. It is not enough, for instance, to say they believe in financial inclusion while not allowing people to pay by cash or cheque, or claiming to be green because it carbon offsets its investments in fossil fuels. Banks must walk the walk. They could add value from a social perspective through financial education, adds Williamson, given that much of society no longer has the touchpoint of cash for money management.
“Banks can step in and say ‘this is how money management can work for you. If you put 10 bucks aside each month, you can save up a house deposit’,” he adds.
The happiness index
Camargo once held a senior role at Disney. Happiness – and the value it created – was one of his key performance indicators (KPIs). Comparing that with banking might not be as far-fetched as it first appears.
“It’s in the same vein as client satisfaction, client experience and seamlessness,” he says. The happiness KPI will become ever-more important as banks seek to capture the Gen Z market; as they move from the notion of simply providing financial products to building a more holistic relationship, one where – instead of credit cards, loans and current accounts – banks provide an ever-evolving, end-to-end life management service.
“At Bank of America, the notion of listening to that client satisfaction as a key metric is something that has already had a pervasive impact throughout the organisation,” says Camargo. “And it will be with us for years to come.”
- DailyPay Now Available on Oracle Cloud Marketplace Read more
- Gate Web3 Startup Unveils 4 Upcoming Initial and Non-Initial Airdrops Read more
- Intuit Launches Food Truck Program to Empower Underserved Youth with Vital Financial, Technical and Entrepreneurial Skills Read more
- MoneyMasters Limited Goes Live with Axia Suite by Profile Software Read more
- EXCLUSIVE: At Seamless Africa 23 the future of African fintech is bright Read more