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Challenger vs. Legacy – which banks will win?

By Jean Van Vuuren, Regional VP for UK, Middle East and South Africa at Alfresco

It’s no secret that the finance world has seen a lot of changes in the last decade, some forced and some embraced. One big step that banks have taken is towards becoming technology companies in almost every sense.  Almost three quarters of people in the UK use online banking to track activity and manage their money, which in turn is causing the rise in high street branches closing – a global trend that has been hard to miss for consumers and banks.

Challenger banks have been all the rage in the industry over the last couple of years, but a large portion of us still look to the large, traditional banks to keep our finances in check. However, that doesn’t mean traditional banks should rely on our loyalty forever; traditional banks need to start taking inspiration from emerging banks and embrace their use of technology. But what does this actually look like and what is coming next? 

Augmenting Customer Experience with AI 

Banks prioritising the customer experience has increased by leaps and bounds in the last 5-10 years, but it doesn’t just end with the launch of an app or the re-design of an online experience. The customer experience needs to be revisited regularly and continually play a core role in the adoption of the latest technology available.

For example, the future of AI in the banking world is very exciting and is completely transforming the customer experience. Voice banking, facial recognition and automated tellers can help create a completely personalised experience for each customer. Someone could walk into a high street bank, AI sensors at the door could use facial recognition to let the teller know who has arrived and they could automatically pull up all the information about their account without having to ask for their bank card or details.

As technology gets more sophisticated, this opens up possibilities for banks to focus on advising customers rather than spending time on transactions and processes.

Embracing confidentiality in the cloud

The cloud has completely transformed the way in which we store information on our smartphones, computers and within the enterprise. However, as with any technology it comes with potential security risks. Trusting a third party with your data feels risky in most industries because you no longer feel in control of it, but banks are often trusted with our most precious data – not to mention our money. Therefore, maintaining confidentiality is of upmost importance to banks in order to maintain the trust of their customers.

Financial institutions should make sure that they are not relying on security embedded in cloud platforms to do the heavy lifting. Implementing governance services that provide security models, audit trails and regulate access – even internally, and confidently demonstrate that compliance is key for an industry with so much access to personal information. Whilst working in the cloud offers flexibility, it needs to be made secure with intelligent security classifications and automatic safeguarding of files and records as they are created.

This also brings up the issue of legacy platforms from a security and feasibility standpoint. Fund management companies find that legacy platforms are very expensive and not cloud ready. There is very little room for innovation and it is hard to adapt them to meet customer demands. Even if a fund management company has migrated to a Saas or Paas solution, quite often regulatory obligations and the potential dangers posed by hacking and data breaches mean that they sometimes go back to using an on-premises solution. Instead of backtracking, financial institutions should spend time to understand what the best cloud option for them would be and how they would implement it within the confines of governance and compliance.

Joining the paperless revolution

 Discussing going paperless in 2020 may seem like going back to the past, but for many financial institutions making the transition to fully paperless operations is still a work in progress. This is also a key area where challenger banks which have never had paper-based processes have an advantage, they don’t have to adapt simply because they were born paperless. There is also a new generation of consumers that embrace and often expect paperless banking.

While the Fintech industry is intrinsically paperless, banks are still adapting to phase out paper support, but this transition should be an integral part of updating the customer experience. The paperless movement involves moving from simply depositing checks via smartphone to a complete digital experience from end-to-end.

Going paperless also provides an added layer of security in accordance with a rising tide of regulations and government mandates. With digital records, automated management processes allow companies to set up rules around metadata to file records, put security procedures around them and also deleting personal information within retention regulations. 

Keeping pace with technology natives

 In recent years, the introduction of technological advances such as digital ID verification, e-signature and risk analytics are transforming the way financial service providers interact with their customers. New challenger banks build whole systems in as few as two weeks and automate as much as possible. By their very nature, challenger banks are pushing their competitors to be more agile and they are growing exponentially, something which the high-street banks had underestimated when they first entered the market. Created for the digital-first generation, challenger banks won market share by putting customer-centric products at the heart of their business. They are also able to improve the product and the user experience quickly according to customer feedback.

Fully digitising the banking process isn’t the future, it is here now. Mobile banking innovators are increasingly leveraging these new technologies to gain customers and enable them to deliver new, faster mobile services which are entirely tailored towards the banking needs of a digital world.