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Will bank brands survive in this digital world?

We were having a debate about brand loyalty in a mobile world. The discussion began with talking about how it used to be complex with dealing via branch and call centre; then it was branch, call centre and online; now, it’s branch, call centre, online and mobile. How do you provide a consistent, omnichannel (vomiting emoticon insert would be nice here) experience …?

I countered that the idea of ‘channel’ is that you are adding things to an old structure, rather than redesigning the structure to be digital. Digital should be at the core. An enterprise digital data structure which then has access for all forms offered. Any form factor accessing the digital core would then get the same experience, whether that be a customer support rep in a branch or the customer themselves online or by mobile. More importantly, as we move to the internet of things, all of their things would also get a consistent access to the digital core.

That’s the key point agreed my fellow panellists. O2O. A consistent online to offline experience. Then the question is how to build relevance across that experience so that the customer comes to you, and not someone else like Amazon or Apple.

This means that banks must not be dumb pipes but smart plumbing, providing all of the underlying digital structure and data analytics to be relevant whenever the customer needs to transact, store or exchange value.

This is where PSD2, Open APIs and Open Banking can really make a difference, by adding data enrichment to every transaction. Data enrichment through APIs to add more depth of knowledge about every digital activity of the customer can create more relevance, and turn the bank from a dumb pipe with dumb data into smart plumbing with data intelligence.

All well and good, but what does data intelligence really mean and can banks seriously expect to be as intelligent about customer’s digital lifestyles as Amazon or Alibaba? Well, if they’re not, then they lose relevance was the critical point. After all, if you’re not needed in the process of transacting, storing and exchanging value then why do I need you?

We then had a long discussion about building relevance which, for me, goes back to my four future roles of a bank. The future bank will offer:

  • A data store and enrichment service; which is achieved by being
  • A curator of apps, APIs and analytics from best-of-breed trusted third parties across the network; which, when combined, allow the bank to be relevant as:
  • A manager of life experiences; and as a
  • Real-time financial provider of loans, savings and insurance measured in seconds, not days or years.

All in all, the whole focus has to be on taking the secure store of value principles of banking as a trusted intermediary into a highly relevant service in these days of digital insecurity.

It was a good debate. More please.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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