New Way To Bank
With everything going digital, the customers have come to expect to have access to their finances at their fingertips. Digital banking is coming, to an extent it’s already here, and it’s changing entirely how the banks interact with their customers.
Simply put, the most attractive feature is the convenience. You don’t need to find the time in your busy schedule to go to a bank, wait in line, and finally explain to the rep what it is you want. Instead, you just pull out your phone and get what you want within minutes, without going anywhere. Also, some people might enjoy the lack of human interaction. In fact, over 80% of customers use online banking in Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, and Denmark with EU averaging around 51% - unsurprisingly the trend is higher with younger (68%) and university educated people (77%).
But it’s not just that. Banking from your phone gives you a better chance to manage your finances. Apps make it easy to track your spending and budget your money accordingly. Good money habits can go a long way into ensuring your financial well-being. Having a tool to manage your money right in your pocket will help you make better financial decisions. For example, Bank of America app allows you to track and budget your money separately for different categories of payments.
Digital banking is also where users can find better customer support. Customer support is probably the most excruciating part of using a service. You must call, wait for a while, and hope the operator understands your problem, and the hope they can actually fix it. Digital banking is trying to change this, with Chatbots. Chatbots use Artificial Intelligence to help customers with whatever they are trying to do. The best part is the scalability of chatbots. Unlike call center operators, of which there are only so many, chatbots can serve any number of customers. Also, it doesn’t require calling and waiting, and can just be done silently through text.
Several major banks are already taking full advantage of chatbots. Bank of America introduced a virtual assistant Erica who, besides being an obvious pun on America, helps customers manage their bills and transactions – it has already surpassed over a million users. While Chatbots cannot completely replace human customer support representatives just yet, the technology will see vast improvements in features over the new few years with the advancement in artificial intelligence.
One of the key benefits of Digital Banking is accessibility. It is cheaper, and easily scalable – that is why mobile money has become so huge in Africa. M-Pesa, a mobile money service, started in Kenya in 2007 and since then spread to over 10 countries with 30 million users, and it’s not the only service out there. In 2012 M-Pesa partnered up with Commercial Bank of Africa (a high-end bank in Kenya) to create a mobile banking service M-Shwari which offers interest bearing savings and microloans and is fully facilitated through a phone and is already used by over 17 million customers. It’s not limited to Africa either, mobile wallets are also vastly popular in India.
Digital Banks can reach those who would be left without financial services otherwise. Travelling can be difficult and time consuming, and even impossible, for the world’s poorest. It’s costly to build brick and mortar branches to accommodate everyone, implementing network connectivity on the other hand is more worth the money. Offering a full arsenal of financial services on digital would give everyone the access to the tools they need to improve their financial situation and drive development in every corner of the world.
But just like with everything else, there are dangers with digital banking, which are exactly like with everything else. Security, privacy, and scamming. It can be difficult to trust online platforms with scandals popping up left and right – and digital platforms are an easy way to lure people into terrible deals - but it’s not the reason to stop progress. Digital banking will revolutionize the way money changes hands, and to ensure that in the new system consumer interests are met, consumers need to make their voice heard.
A lot of Digital Banking is already here, but there’s even more to come. Digital banking has unlimited potential and transferring all banking services to your phone is just the first part. Right now, the banks are just digitalizing the services they have been offering for decades, and purely digital services are still on the horizon It will be interesting to see what features will emerge in the sector – this could be the beginning of a truly personalized banking, and so much more.