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Banking for humanity: 3 key initiatives

By Mark Aldred, banking specialist at Auriga 

The rise of faceless banks comes as more financial services continue to shift their focus to providing better services through technology. However, the term ‘Banking for Humanity’ suggests a way to incorporate human connection in these technology-driven efforts.

Banking for Humanity has been explored in great depth by fintech guru, Chris Skinner. He defined the concept as how banks are “trying to render their services more human”.There are five principal aspects, which form its foundation: financial literacy, financial inclusion, financial wellness, financial capabilities for the vulnerable, and promoting sustainability.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis that took place earlier in the century, banking institutions are now trying to rebuild the damaged trust and confidence in their services. According to the latest quarterly survey by the Confederation of British Industry and PwC, confidence in the financial services business has dropped at the fastest rate since September 2008. In addition to this, FCA research has reported that over 40% of UK adults have no faith in the UK’s financial services industry. For service providers to regain trust, they’ll need to provide a personalised approach with value-adding insight.

It’s now become a balancing act for banks to digitally transform their operations while forming a personal connection with their customers. Here are some Banking for Humanity initiatives, which could make this easier.

  1. Make banking more human by utilising AI

With AI’s ability to learn and respond to customer data, financial institutions can use this technology to automate and personalise the service they provide to customers. This can aid banks when dealing with various different tasks, such as understanding market trends or catering to diverse demographics with their varying needs.

By automating menial tasks, a bank’s role in providing valuable support and guidance with empathy will grow. This also illustrates the capabilities of IT – it can be used to support employees when navigating through complex customer issues, without removing the human connection needed for most customer interactions. With the automation of such tasks, banks can also shift their focus towards improving the consultative capabilities of their employees; especially when it comes to problem solving, emotional intelligence and empathy. 

  1. Making financial services accessible for all generations

Another way of making banks more human is through financial inclusion. From the older generations to Gen Z, financial institutions will have to play an active role in making sure that everyone receives quality service. When it comes to Gen Z, banks will have to understand that for their omnichannel strategies, there’s no difference between online and offline worlds. Research into this generation shows that they are more concerned with authentic and adequate financial management than Millennials. With this in mind, banks need to implement financial education products and services, which connect with Gen Z.

The financial inclusion gap between banks and older demographics can also be bridged with technology. More can be done to further develop the self-service devices within bank branches so that older customers can use them with ease. For example, staff can help them with the user interface on self-service technology so that they can have greater control over their money. Remodeling a bank branch’s design to make it more inclusive will inevitably strengthen the customer relationship with those from an older generation.

Implementing video banking in branches has also become a growing conversation to allow greater access to financial services, which can help customers who have queries regarding the self-service technology or products that are best suited for their needs.

  1. Digital banks for the local communities

If the physical services of a bank branch work in conjunction with digital technology, a bank can do more for their local community while amplifying the essence of Banking for Humanity. By offering face-to-face services with their digital services, banks can experiment with video banking to make human advisory resources more accessible. Operating costs can be reduced as well with omnichannel banking that’s enabled by cloud computing solutions, while expanding customer banking services for various communities.

One innovation that is common in other countries, that the UK can adopt, is having shared digital banking hubs for a number of banking brands. A bank can also look at remodelling its other properties to further benefit the communities they serve by creating complementary services or community initiatives, whilst having the shared digital banking hubs located on the existing bank’s premises.

A bank must work to meet the needs of society, if Banking for Humanity is to thrive. With the evolution of technology, we can only hope that banks become more responsible when serving customers through various channels.