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In July, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced its plans to launch a digital currency. In response to a rise in online payments and the potential threat that could come from others issuing a digital means of payment, the ECB has decided to press ahead with its own digital currency. This aims to help protect its monetary sovereignty by attempting to limit the use of rival means of payment.

This will not be a quick process. The next two years will be spent on design and tests, followed by a launch three years later. However, the announcement highlights that traditional fiat currency won’t be the sole payments method in years to come. Of course, this move does not mean the same will happen for the UK, but with Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England making warm noises about digital currencies, it’s unlikely the UK won’t follow suit.

Will Digital Currencies Work as Cash Replacements?

Of course, there are many questions swirling around digital currencies – namely if they’ll be a digital version of cash, if they will eventually replace cash or just simplify cross-border payments – but the fact of the matter is cash appears to be becoming digital, meaning banks need to get ready, even if the day-to-day reality could be years away.

Taking a step back from this new development, it’s fair to say financial services was already in flux, with the pandemic turbo-charging many of these shifts. Previously, banks, building societies, pension providers and wealth management had defined roles within the market, and whilst there was some interaction between the providers, people had their pots of money and tended not to move them around. In short, loyalty mattered. But this, like many other aspects of financial services has now changed. New entrants are flooding the market and offering platforms that bring vendors together thanks to Open Banking enablement. Therefore, consumers are flooded with choice. It’s now simple to amalgamate pensions or to transfer ISAs to get a better rate. Plus, with digitalisation, self-service is now positively encouraged. One clear example being online brokerages disrupting the investment space and allowing consumers to own snippets of companies, instead of requiring payment for full shares. Consumers are used to a digital financial life – so why not extend this to currency?

The world is moving towards a more digitised way of life – and banking, payments, savings and investments are certainly part of this shift.

No matter where a company sits within financial services, it’s clear that if digital currencies become reality, firms will need to accept them, which throws up multiple issues. Integration with fiat currency is perhaps the most pressing.  However, the growth of cryptocurrencies over the last five to ten years and their recent acceptance by large institutions, shows there’s a clear trend. Financial portfolios should no longer be cash, bonds or equities – a small exposure can be digital. For me, this coupled with the concept of digital Pounds, Euros, Dollars or Yen, signals it’s time for banks to start thinking at the very least what measures should be put in place to lay the foundations for adoption. Surely commercial entities could benefit from showing customers they’re ready to take action, and providing an alternative to investment platforms as a source and store of these assets?

But what’s required? Here are five key aspects which can help determine a starter strategy.

  1. System resilience

Like any fiat system, digital currencies would need to be considered critical national infrastructure – meaning uptime and defence are impenetrable 24/7, 365 days per year. Aside from this requirement, the new system would need to be protected from cyberattacks, whilst also handling high volumes of transactions. Systems should be able to process transactions immediately (or as instantaneously as possible) along with having strong privacy protections.

For banks looking to support and facilitate a lot of this traffic, leveraging blockchain seems the most logical choice, as the roles they will play in these transactions will be different to a normal transfer. Whilst money may well flow from one account to another, banks will also likely be responsible for updating the record of who owns which Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) balance. Of course, technicalities are still to be worked out as to how money will move around, but it’s likely the CBDC itself would be a cash-like claim on the central bank. This way, the central bank avoids the operational tasks of opening accounts and administering payments. Banks can continue to perform retail payment services, meaning there are no balance sheet concerns with private sector intermediaries. This in turn helps boost operational resilience, as this architecture allows the central bank to operate backup systems in case the private sector runs into technical outages.

  1. IT infrastructure

The potential introduction of digital currencies will be a testing experience for many – especially while we don’t know if it will come to fruition, or how it will work. Inevitably that will lead to a lot of speculation. One thing is for sure though, it may well require an overhaul of technology to integrate it, which will have repercussions for the IT stack. Unfortunately, technology to support such initiatives are likely to be considered ‘new’ to the majority of existing financial service organisations.

It’s well known that many banks struggle with legacy technology. They are not alone in that and big names across other industries have the same problem. The problem the banks have is that they’ll be the ones facilitating most of the transactions, whereas other players (retailers, for example) will mostly be receiving them. Whilst I don’t believe integration won’t be a problem for newer neobanks, they are in a far stronger position than their older rivals. Now is the time to get on the front foot and start thinking about what transformation will be required to help set the traditional banks on the right path. This includes safeguards which have been a criticism of cryptocurrencies – how to implement anti-money laundering protections, so the same due diligence a traditional banking service provides is applicable to its digital twin.

  1. Centralised vs decentralised finance

The whole concept of digital currency is an interesting one, based on the fact they add an element of decentralised finance to the country’s monetary policy. Of course, they will need to comply with current protocols, but they’ll also challenge how these protocols work.

To enable peer-to-peer transactions, digital currencies will need to make use of centralised governance frameworks that are authoritarian in nature — i.e., controlled by a single body. However, centralised blockchains are slower. Decentralised solutions like distributed ledger technology could make transactions quicker and more streamlined. To achieve widespread adoption, transaction speeds need to be efficient (much like an online bank transfer) otherwise consumers will not want to switch.

Decentralisation would also enable individuals to own their own wallets (akin to cryptocurrencies) and have their own private keys to help bolster security. This can help avoid data breaches and reduces risk. If a hack were to occur, it would stop one, single large fund being stolen – just a single person’s funds. Whilst this is a terrible scenario, it would be catastrophic if one pot were accessed. It would undermine any faith in the system.

  1. Payments

Simplifying cross border payments could provide benefits in terms of e-commerce, travel and the labour market. However, it will have significant requirements, such as aligning regulatory, supervisory and oversight frameworks, AML/CFT consistency, PvP adoption and payment system access. The eventual international adoption of digital currencies is also likely to proceed at different speeds in different jurisdictions, calling for interoperability with legacy payment arrangements. Whilst this sort of information will likely come from G20 discussions, banks need to start addressing how to facilitate this and how this can be achieved within the current stack.

  1. Consumer adoption

Whilst not a technical point, banks will likely share responsibility with the Bank of England in communicating the launch of any digital currency and how it will work. Provision and service is a key differentiation. We also need to acknowledge that the recent volatility in cryptocurrencies may make consumers wary of adopting digital currencies, which impacts their adoption. Being able to clearly communicate how digital currencies will integrate with current offerings and the benefits of this early, will help with customer uptake and acquisition.

Although the adoption is still conceptual, thinking about potential customer provision and how it might be integrated into current platformification/product offerings can help with service design and ultimately, user experience.

 

The world is moving towards a more digitised way of life – and banking, payments, savings and investments are certainly part of this shift. Financial institutions have had to manage this evolution already, so in some ways, a digital currency is a logical next step. For it to survive, however, the necessary infrastructure must be present for it to thrive, which banks can provide if they put the necessary building blocks in place now. The change will not happen overnight, or potentially in the next five years, but to win the hearts and minds of customers, provision will need to be seamless – placing customers at the heart.

Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO of MFS Africa, looks at the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the world economy can become more adaptable in its wake.

The relentless spread of COVID-19 throughout 2020 has underlined the importance of financial resilience in disasters and unforeseen events. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 estimated that some 71 million people would be pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020 due to the pandemic, while some 1.6 billion precarious workers in the informal economy – half the global workforce – may be significantly affected.

But while the aggregate reporting may be global, the rapid advance of COVID-19 across the world has also highlighted how economic interconnectedness means that the worst would hit everyone at the same time. Often where one region or country was subject to severe restrictions on movement or activity, another was more open. People have therefore felt the effects of the pandemic at different paces and to different degrees according to where they are in the world. This dynamic provided a path to greater resilience – we can offset economic damage to a badly affected area by funnelling support from one that is doing better. But it depended on the availability of convenient and low-cost solutions that could reach the poorest where they were.

With incomes squeezed and jobs lost due to COVID-19, it has become increasingly important for this group to be able to easily access support from family back home, and likewise to be able to provide this support to family where needed. Remittances can be a lifeline for people in precarious situations and provide flexibility in the face of disaster by enabling money to easily move to where it’s most needed.

Remittances are more than a lifeline

The virus halted all movement of people and cash. As regions put in place different states of lockdown and movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 – this prevented customers from accessing cash. The virus also rendered cash a less hygienic option, thus states also restricted the opportunities to make in-person transactions. All of this made mobile money infrastructure more important.

The relentless spread of COVID-19 throughout 2020 has underlined the importance of financial resilience in disasters and unforeseen events.

Since remittance payments account for a significant portion of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP (2.8% in 2019), it was vital to ensure they could be made easily to send money. The pandemic led many African countries to strengthen their mobile money ecosystems and address specific constraints. For example, Ethiopia relaxed its rules for mobile banking and money transfers – opening the market to all local businesses to encourage people to go cashless and control the spread of coronavirus. The Central Bank of Kenya raised its transition limits and Safaricom has lowered their fees, all in an effort to encourage people to ditch cash during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are only a few examples of how the financial services regulators in Africa adapted their thinking to put the safety of citizens at the heart of its operations, whilst also ensuring they have access to the wider global economy. In a few short weeks, a pandemic helped shift perspectives on the role of appropriate regulation in building financial solutions that strengthen consumer resilience.

Digital payments and financial resilience

The pandemic has emphasised the urgency and importance of these digital ecosystems to governments and decision-makers. With restrictions on physical contact and movement during an economic crisis, it has underlined the importance of being able to move money about seamlessly and highlighted the role that digital technology can play when it comes to keeping consumers and businesses connected during a crisis. Just because we have (physically) come to a standstill, doesn’t mean that the economy has to as well.

Although we are continuing record-breaking new cases, there is a silver lining. Recent announcements on successful vaccination trials are signalling the beginning of the end for this pandemic. What is important now is that we don’t retract the positive steps made to support vulnerable senders and recipients of remittances. Unfortunately, we are starting to see some reversals. In my country, Benin, revisions in regulation of cross-border payments have stripped away proportionality in payments, meaning that very small payments are being treated on the same regulatory terms as larger payments.

Africa provides an intriguing vision for what digitally-enabled resilience looks like – and the barriers that stand in its way. The continent is a leader in mobile money, with over 400 million registered mobile money accounts; the technological tools to support its widespread adoption have been in place for over a decade.

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Mobile payments provide a fantastic example of how digital technologies can help us build a more resilient and adaptable world, one that can better see through crises and pandemics and mitigate the economic and social damage of these rare but impactful events. Policymakers, regulators, and businesspeople need to recognise the opportunity: to build a new normal, where digital infrastructure such as mobile payments future-proof our world.

New payment methods have enabled people and businesses all around the world to access the digital economy. But we’re only at the start of reimagining the payment experience.

Here are four trends that will shape the way we pay in 2021.

  1. Retailers went digital, but next, they must diversify their payment offering.

Retailers have responded well to the pandemic by pivoting to online commerce this year, but their work is only just getting started. Payment diversification will be a crucial next step in 2021. As consumers continue to embrace shopping online, often engaging with retailers they haven’t purchased from before, we will see growing demand to introduce new digital payments methods that address customers’ safety & security concerns.

Being able to pay on delivery, tokenisation, biometric fingerprint cards, vein scanning or phone-to-phone payments, alongside a variety of more traditional card payment options, help to create a universe where the consumer can make a choice based on convenience, personal preference and knowing they are protected from financial fraud.

  1. QR code payments will thrive.

In the quest for truly contact-free payments in the pandemic, QR codes will continue to prove their resilience, especially in emerging markets. We can expect QR codes to dominate in these fast-growing markets such as Asia, over other payment methods such as NFC-enabled cards. Unlike card transactions which require merchants to invest in costly and complex point-of-sale terminals, QR codes are cheap to deploy and easy to use.

In the next year, we can expect to see QR code-based payments become even easier for consumers to use. Thanks to integrations with digital wallets, we’ll start to see wider adoption in both developing and developed markets.

Currently, the QR code payment solutions available today require an app, for example, developed by a retailer, that can only be used in its stores. However, in China, where QR codes are wildly popular, consumers can make QR code-based payments using a digital wallet such as AliPay or WeChat Pay. In developed markets, leveraging popular digital wallets already on consumer smartphones, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, will make QR codes more accessible to them. Customers will no longer need to download separate apps but instead can use their favourite wallet to make a purchase with ease.

Offering a safe, convenient and cashless payment method, QR codes will continue to emerge as an important payment method in 2021.

  1. COVID-19 will be the catalyst for digitising transport payments infrastructure around the world.

COVID-19 has been the catalyst for national and local governments around the world to embrace digital services. This is becoming particularly visible in transport, where we started seeing individual public transport ticketing systems and piecemeal approach to digitising infrastructure elements replaced with end-to-end services.

We will see the rise of smaller cities in developed countries as well as large cash-based cities in emerging markets easing into joined-up cashless fare collection across different modes of transport. The benefits of a simple tap-to-pay will go way beyond a matter of social distancing, as we expect to see a greater willingness among citizens to use cashless payment methods in other scenarios.

This will be a huge opportunity for the payments industry.

  1. Voice-enabled payments will get a boost.

While conversational AI has already made great strides in other aspects of lives, we are only starting to see its application in the world of payments. Chatbots with speech-to-text and text-to-speech features have now become more accessible, bringing the ability to transform how we make in-app payments. Digital banking apps that offer this feature are enabling their customers to instruct on transactions and initiate bill payments using voice alone.

And the potential for this isn’t restricted to banking apps. Voice-enabled payments could be used to confirm payments on other apps such as those of food delivery providers.

We are already seeing some retailers integrate voice-enabled grocery shopping, allowing customers to commence checkout by voice. And as we continually seek out touchless payment options as part of the return to brick-and-mortar stores, voice payments could reimagine that experience in the future too.

While still in its infancy, we can expect to see banks, retailers and others explore voice as an emerging payment method.

This trend isn’t one that is unique to the UK either, far from it. The People's Bank of China is tipped by many to be the world’s first cashless society and is currently conducting extensive tests of a digital currency payment system ahead of a planned launch later this year. Elsewhere, Australia’s Central Bank has announced that it too is looking at the viability of a central digital currency.

Closer to home, however, the decreased need for cash has seen an acceleration of an already steady downward trend in ATM transactions, cash withdrawals and the use of cash more generally. So significant was the trend that it led to the National Audit Office concluding, earlier in 2020, that there was increasing pressure on the sustainability of the infrastructure for producing and distributing cash and that, overall, the current approach to overseeing the cash system is fragmented. It has also led to significant infrastructure changes across the sector that have seen a number of banks announce further branch closure programmes.

When many banks are making significant losses, it is difficult to argue with them trying to reduce their costs, especially amid an accelerating trend towards digital banking - TSB’s own website says that 67% of its customers now use mobile, telephone or online banking.

With forecasters predicting that cash may only be involved with 10% of transactions by 2028, the COVID crisis looks set to rapidly propel us towards a cashless future. But, while convenient for some, this transition will cause significant challenges for the banking sector as well as for governments and wider society as institutions look to adjust to yet another ‘new normal’.

On a more macroeconomic scale, coins and notes have acted as the primary means of payment across the globe and, in times of emergency, central banks have often printed banknotes to hand out to their governments.

The stats are certainly compelling, but they don’t change the fact that many banking customers either don’t have access to digital banking or still rely on cash. What’s more, the targeted impact of a move away from cash was clearly laid out when, in 2018, an Independent Access to Cash Review was undertaken (funded by LINK). The subsequent report stated that “technology is often designed for the mass market rather than for the poor, rural or vulnerable”.

On a more macroeconomic scale, coins and notes have acted as the primary means of payment across the globe and, in times of emergency, central banks have often printed banknotes to hand out to their governments. As such, money has become another tool used to manage the economy, and how these same levers would be pulled in a cashless society is not clear.

As is so often the case though, out of adversity comes opportunity and, in addition to the Post Office and retailers stepping in to support those who still rely on access to cash, there is already evidence that some new players are taking a more innovative look at the banking sector.

OneBank, for example, is a new payment institute that will not charge consumers but will instead charge participant banks to allow their customers to use OneBank’s “bank agnostic” kiosks. Retail bank branches cost between £500 and 700k per year to run so OneBank can justifiably claim to be providing a solution to banks and consumers simultaneously. Interestingly, the platform has its own anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) systems, independent to the banks.

Innovators such as OneBank will undoubtedly be important in the short term, but attention still needs to be given to longer-term and more far-reaching solutions.

Whichever way you look at it, the use of cash is declining, and to try and push against this particular tide now seems futile. The focus must be on harnessing technology to deliver innovative new approaches to overcome the challenges that will face a cashless society – tackling the key questions that need to be asked head-on. This doesn’t mean we are starting from a standing start though, as it is possible to adapt or accelerate the adoption of proven technology to help solve some of these challenges. For example, distributed ledger technology has applications for both central-bank-controlled digital currencies and identity verification to enable the unbanked to more easily access bank accounts.

Each of the major players, both new and old, in the banking sector will have their own role to play but one thing is for sure - the next 12 months will be crucial as the sector looks for new ways to deal with these emerging problems.

Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland, offers her thoughts on how established banks can offer customers a better remote service.

Businesses have faced numerous challenges as a result of COVID-19; perhaps the greatest they have ever had to contend with. However, from a customer experience point of view, there have also been some new opportunities. Across the private sector, SAS research shows that the number of digital users grew 10% during lockdown, with 58% of those intending to continue usage. This represents a whole new dataset of customers with a digital footprint, offering the chance for businesses to engage with them in a more personalised way.

It seems that many businesses have been taking advantage of this already. Across the board, a quarter of customers noted an improvement in customer experience over lockdown. Yet, in the banking and finance industries, 12% of customers claimed that their customer experience had diminished, which was more than the average for the private sector.

What makes this particularly concerning for banks is that, as an industry, they are one of the most digitally mature. Of all the industries, they had the highest number of pre-existing digital users, with 58% of customers using an app or digital service prior to lockdown. So, the question is: why did the most digitally mature industry struggle to support all its customers through digital channels during the pandemic?

A truncated digital experience

As demonstrated by the sheer number of customers using their digital services and apps, the banking industry hasn’t struggled to get its customers to go digital. However, it has clearly struggled to support all of its customers during the pandemic.

While more customers noted an improvement in the customer experience over lockdown (27%), 12% still felt that it had got worse. Branch closures and lengthy call waiting times to speak to an advisor by telephone won’t have helped. In this age of digital transformation, customers were unable to access immediate support or advice through digital channels and were forced to pick up the phone  or fill out paperwork to complete an action. Many businesses applying for bounce back loans found themselves in error-riddled, drawn-out processes, often waiting weeks with no status update, while customers wanting advice on payment holidays found their bank’s digital communication channels offered no support at all.

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Going the extra mile

Since the scheme was introduced there have been over 1.9 million mortgage payment holidays granted in the UK and, with stricter lockdown measures reintroduced, this number could rise even further.

The problem for banks and customers alike is that much of the decision-making process is manual, such as determining a customer’s eligibility. Automating these decisions would enable banks to deliver support and decisions in real-time to customer applications across their websites and mobile apps, eliminating manual back-end processing tasks and reducing the need for phone calls, paperwork or in-branch communication.

What’s more, automated decisioning does not require a complete overhaul of legacy infrastructure. Cloud-based intelligent decisioning applications allow banks to rapidly deploy solutions that can analyse customer data and behaviours in real time, determine customer intent and needs and arbitrate next best actions across digital channels without the need to rip and replace the current architecture.

While the pandemic remains part of our everyday life, it’s likely that banks will have to contend with sporadic branch closures and/or customers unwilling to either come in-branch for appointments or spend a long time waiting to speak to someone over the phone. Customer feedback has demonstrated that banks have the correct building blocks in place to deal with this effectively. However, they’re still struggling to support their entire customer base. If banks are to compete and succeed both in the short and long term, it’s essential that they complete the ‘last mile’ of their digital transformation.

Matthew Glickman, VP of Customer Product Strategy, Financial Services at Snowflake, examines the benefits that the data cloud can bring to financial services.

In the wake of COVID-19, financial services have had to adapt almost overnight to the economic challenges presented by the pandemic. With cities across the world going into lockdown, consumers expect banking to deliver digital-first experiences that match their usual expectations. Digital innovation is very much at the heart of this transition. To navigate and thrive in the current climate, capitalising on the data cloud will enable fintechs to respond nimbly to customer demands and remain competitive.

According to an Accenture survey, over half of respondents in the retail banking industry believe cloud technologies have the biggest impact on improving operational efficiency, and 40% believe that it can also generate business value for the industry. The data cloud can provide the foundation on which companies can build a technology stack that delivers business agility and growth. Here are three ways financial services companies can benefit from harnessing the data cloud.

Personalising Customer Experiences

The cloud offers companies the opportunity to house all their various types of data in one secure place, enabling them to personalise services for customers. By using the data cloud,  companies have a consolidated governed location for all types of data (for example, clickstream, transactional, and third-party) that can ingest data from new sources such as IoT devices. This enables organisations to gain a 360-degree view of customer behaviours and preferences from multiple inputs.

The cloud offers companies the opportunity to house all their various types of data in one secure place, enabling them to personalise services for customers.

A full customer view is fundamental for a successful personalisation strategy as it enables organisations to pinpoint high-value customers and ensure they have a good experience at every touchpoint. Without real-time visibility into customer interactions, providing the best possible customer experience just isn’t possible.

Over time, digital banking platforms will evolve to incorporate ML predictive models to drive even more personalised banking behaviours. This will only be achievable for organisations who successfully tap into the data cloud, as the success of ML models will require support from ever increasing volumes and access to datasets, both within and external to an organisation. The more an organisation can tap into customer personalisation, the better equipped they will be at customer retention and remaining competitive.

Boosting Data Visibility

To ensure fintechs can continue providing the best possible customer experiences, and adapt to any demands posed by the pandemic, having an acute awareness of all data available will be key for these insights. Adopting a cloud data platform that offers the direct and secure sharing of data without the complexity, cost, and risk associated with legacy data warehouses is one such solution. With simpler, enhanced data sharing, companies can quickly and easily add new data products, and get near real-time insights across the business ecosystem on how this is operating. Offering a standalone data product to data consumers can lead to substantial revenue. For example, financial companies that collect tick-by-tick stock market data can use a cloud data platform to create a data project that they can sell to hedge funds.

A cloud data platform can also reduce the manual effort and copying that is necessary with traditional data sharing tools. Instead of physically transferring data to external consumers, companies can provide read-only access to a segment of their information to any number of data consumers via SQL. By breaking through barriers between disparate data systems, companies will find new sources of revenue and opportunity.

Cross-Collaboration

The rise of digital-first banks, the increased availability of online services and the ongoing surge in mobile banking all represent the modern evolution of how customers now interact with their finances. To meet the demands of today’s customer, financial organisations will see big benefits in collaborating with other finservs through real-time access to data. For instance, if a customer is using a third party fintech to track their finances, a financial institution must share data with that fintech organisation so their customers can access their accounts.

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Last year, 65% of banks and 76% of credit unions said partnerships with fintech companies will be an important part of their business strategies in 2020. These numbers represent an increase from 49% and 60%, respectively, in 2019, showing a clear trend towards a more open banking landscape. Financial institutions that do not take steps to improve the accessibility of its data risk frustrating their customers or losing them to a more agile and collaborative financial institution.

Data collaboration can also help improve instances where investment banks may otherwise have been forced to hold excess capital. This is because aligning on risk exposures and liquidity is executed through nightly correspondances instead of what could be real-time data sharing through the cloud.

With fully governed, secure data sharing, companies can also easily determine who sees what and ensure all business units and business partners access a single and secure copy of their data. Not only does this enhance efficiency, but centralising data into a single source of truth, rather than in separate locations, will boost data security.

Data is the lifeblood of the financial services industry. By migrating to and capitalising on the data cloud, companies can build a future-proofed technology stack that delivers business agility, enhanced customer experiences and data sharing capabilities that ensure business continuity during this volatile economic period. Prioritising these digital-first experiences for customers will ensure financial organisations have the competitive edge that these times demand.

Ammar Akhtar, co-founder and CEO at Yobota, explores the steps necessary to the creation of successful fintech.

The first national lockdown in March highlighted the importance of the quality and functionality of digital banking solutions. Indeed, most of us quickly became accustomed to conducting our financial affairs entirely online.

Financial services providers have needed to adapt to this shift, if they were not already prepared, and consumers will continue to demand more. For instance, Yobota recently surveyed over 2,000 UK adults to explore how satisfied customers are with their recent banking experiences. The majority (58%) of banking customers said they want more power to renegotiate or change their accounts or products, with a third (33%) expressing frustrations at having to choose from generic, off-the-shelf financial products.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more responsive and personalised banking services, with the research highlighting that people are increasingly unlikely to tolerate being locked into unsuitable financial products. This is true across all sectors of the financial services landscape; from payment technologies (where cashless options have become a necessity as opposed to a trendy luxury) to insurance, the shift to “quality digital” poses challenges throughout the industry.

Providers and technology vendors must therefore respond accordingly and develop solutions that can meet such demands. Many financial institutions will be enlisting the help of a fintech partner that can help them build and deploy new technologies. Others may try to recruit the talent required to do so in-house.

The question, then, is this: how is financial technology actually created, and how complicated is the task of building a solution that is fit for purpose in today’s market?

Compliance and regulation

The finance sector is heavily regulated. As such, compliance and regulatory demands pose a central challenge to fintech development in any region. It is at the heart of winning public trust and the confidence of clients and partners.

Controls required to demonstrate compliance can amount to a significant volume of work, not just because the rules can change (even temporarily, as we have seen in some cases this year), but because often there is room for interpretation in principle-based regulatory approaches. It is therefore important for fintech creators to have compliance experts that can handle the regulatory demands. This is especially important as the business (or fintech product) scales, crosses borders, and onboards more users.

The finance sector is heavily regulated. As such, compliance and regulatory demands pose a central challenge to fintech development in any region.

Businesses must also be forthcoming and transparent about their approach towards protecting the customer, and by extension the reputation of their business partner. Europe’s fintech industry cannot afford another Wirecard scandal.

Compliance features do not have to impede innovation, though. Indeed, they may actually foster it. To ensure fintech businesses have the right processes in place to comply with legislation, there is huge scope to create and extend partnerships with the likes of cybersecurity experts and eCommerce businesses.

The size and growth of the regulation technology (regtech) sector is evidence of the opportunities for innovations that are actually born out of this challenge. The global regtech market is expected to grow from $6.3 billion in 2020 to $16.0 billion by 2025. Another great example would be the more supportive stance regulators have taken to cloud infrastructure, which has opened up a range of new options across the sector.

Addressing technical challenges 

It is the technical aspect of developing fintech products where most attention will be focused, however. There are a number of considerations businesses ought to keep in mind as they seek to utilise technology in the most effective way possible.

Understanding the breadth of the problem

The fintech sector is incredibly broad. Payment infrastructure, insurance, and investment management are among the many categories of financial services that fall under the umbrella.

A fintech company must be able to differentiate its product or services in order to create a valuable and defensible competitive advantage. So, businesses must pinpoint exactly which challenges they are going to solve first. Do they need to improve or replace something that already exists? Or do they want to bring something entirely new to the market?

The end product must solve a very specific problem; and do it well. A sharp assessment of the target market also includes considering the functionality that the technology must have; the level of customisation that will be required from a branding and business perspective; and what the acceptable price bracket is for the end product.

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Knowing your client

In the same vein, as a vendor it is important to be specific and strategic when it comes to pursuing the right clients. A fintech might consider itself to be well-positioned to cater to a vast selection of different businesses; however, it’s important to have a very clear target client in mind. This will ensure product and engineering teams have a clear focus for any end goal.

The value of a good cultural fit should also not be underestimated. The business-to-business relationship between a fintech and its client (a bank, for example), particularly at senior levels, is just as important as finding the right niche. There must be a mutual understanding of what the overall vision is and how it will be achieved, including the practical implementation, timeline and costs.

Balancing “best tech” with (perceived) “best practice”

Leveraging the newest technology is not always the best approach to developing a future-proof proposition. This has been learned the hard way by many businesses keen to jump on the latest trends.

Shiny new technology like particular architectures or programming languages can have an obvious appeal to businesses looking to create the “next big thing”. But in reality, the element of risk involved in jumping on relatively nascent innovations could set back progress significantly.

The best technology systems are those that have been created with longevity in mind, and which can grow sustainably to adapt to new circumstances. These systems need to run for many years to come, and eventually without their original engineers to support them, so they need to be created in modern ways, but using proven foundational principles that can stand the test of time.

Curating a positive user experience

To revert back to my original point, fintech businesses cannot forget about the needs of the end customer. There is no better proof point for a product than a happy user base, and ultimately the “voice of the customer” should drive development roadmaps.

The best technology systems are those that have been created with longevity in mind, and which can grow sustainably to adapt to new circumstances.

Customer experience is one of the most important success factors to any technology business. Fintechs must consider how they can deftly leverage new and advancing technology to make the customer experience even better, while also improving their underlying product, which users may not necessarily see, but will almost certainly feel.

Another important consideration is ease of integration with other providers. For example, identity verification, alternative credit scoring, AI assisted chatbots and recommendation algorithms, next generation core banking, transaction classification, and simplification of mortgage chains – these are all services which could be brought together in some product to improve the experience of buying a mortgage, or moving home.

Progressive fintech promotes partnerships and interoperability to reduce the roadblocks that customers encounter.

The human side of fintech

Powerful digital solutions cannot be created without the right people in place. There is fierce competition for talent in the fintech space, especially in key European centres like London and Berlin. Those who can build and nurture the right team will be in a strong position to solve today’s biggest challenges.

In all of these considerations, patience is key. It takes time to identify new growth opportunities; to build the right team that can see the vision through; and to adapt to the ever-changing financial landscape. Creating fintech is not easy, but it is certainly rewarding to see the immense progress being made and the inefficiencies that are being tackled.

Nigel Frith, vice president of financial services at AskTraders, discusses how challenger banks have revolutionised the banking industry and the opportunities more traditional banks can explore as they aim to extend their digital offerings. 

As the high street has evolved in order to meet the changing needs of consumers, retailers have been left with no option other than to reinvent themselves. The banking industry certainly hasn’t been immune to these shifting trends either and as a result, over the last few years traditional banks have been forced to adapt and change the way they operate. While their face-to-face services still remain a crucial string to their bow, banks have had to invest heavily in their digital offerings in order to compete with increasingly popular digital-first providers. So, why are these challenger banks such as Monzo and Starling so attractive to customers and how have the big players in the industry risen to this digital challenge?

A focus on challenger banks

With their chic apps and personalised offerings, new banks can’t be found on the high street but are instead on your mobile phone. Their customer-centric approach has simplified banking by providing users with features which make daily tasks that little bit easier. From being able to split the cost of meals with friends to keeping track of monthly outgoings, these app-based services have really hit the spot in the eyes of many.

With more than four million customers, Monzo is perhaps the most well-known challenger bank. It started out in 2015 as a prepaid card that could be topped up via its app before transforming into a sole banking brand in 2017. It offers all of the usual current account services regular banks provide but also enables customers to manage their money in an effective and efficient manner. The ease at which you can navigate through the app is certainly a big draw for digital-savvy youngsters who are able to quickly transfer money to their friends and set monthly budgets.

In recent years it has continued to broaden its services such as by adopting a ‘get paid early’ feature which allows users to be paid their salary or student loan a day early. By embracing a channel-based communication model, Monzo has also been able to respond to incidents such as outages in a typically effective fashion. Customers can report any issues using a chat service on the app and they have the ability to freeze a card from their phone should they lose it.

With their chic apps and personalised offerings, new banks can’t be found on the high street but are instead on your mobile phone.

Another major benefit of banking with Monzo and many of its other app-based competitors is that it doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees for spending. It has therefore become a highly attractive option with regular travellers and holidaymakers alike.

How traditional banks have risen to the challenge

Although recent analysis of bank branch data has revealed that (if the current rate of closures was to be maintained) there would be no high street banks left by April 2032, there is clearly still a demand for in-person banking. Many people still feel more comfortable going into a bank to pay-in cheques while others are reliant on the financial advice they can access in-store. Clearly there remains a need for traditional banks, such as the big four in the UK - Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and RBS - to evolve their offerings.

In recent years, therefore, these banks have invested heavily in their online and mobile banking services in a bid to compete with digital-first providers like Monzo. This has included providing customers with perks such as being able to pay for purchases using virtual cards on their apps and providing them with the ability to cash-in cheques from the comfort of their own homes.

Leading the way has been Barclays who in 2017 invested £4,148 million into their digital platforms. Now, more than 90% of Barclays’ transactions take place over mobile devices, emphasising the effective nature of their transition to a more digitally-focused way of operating. In December 2018, Barclays also designed a feature which allowed customers to turn off payments towards certain websites should they feel they are unable to curb their spending. More recently, it has taken things a step further by enabling users to view the accounts they hold with rival banks on their platforms - an option which would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

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Key to ensuring customers have felt comfortable transitioning to these digital services has been the commitment banks have shown towards tackling cyber crime. This has seen the banking industry team up with the government, police and other regulators in recent years. Initiatives have been set up to not only raise awareness of the threat scammers pose but to also reassure customers of the stringent measures banks have in place to protect their personal data. Last year, UK banking security systems prevented fraud on an estimated £1.4 billion scale, demonstrating the importance of their investment into tackling cyber crime.

The future

With banks now constantly innovating in a bid to steal a march on their competitors, it is likely we’ll continue to see big changes taking place within the industry over the coming years. One thing that is clear though is that there will be a continued drive by providers to further improve and simplify the customer experience. Although further high street branch closures are inevitable, banks are working hard to maintain their in-person services for those who prefer to operate in this capacity also. While digital banking isn’t for everyone, the ease and efficiency at which millions of people can now complete financial tasks has left a lasting impression on many.

Georg Ludviksson, CEO & co-founder of digital banking solutions provider Meniga, tells Finance Monthly why banks' most important innovation focus must be to help customers build 'financial fitness'.

People across the globe are experiencing new and uncertain circumstances for their personal finances, whether through unemployment, business closures or the sheer impact of the economic recession. One thing is certain, however: that healthy financial habits have a new pertinence in our society and for many, their first port of call to achieve this will be their bank. 

We have entered a critical point for the banking industry, where it is now absolutely crucial for banks to step up their innovation game to support their customers in a personalised and engaging manner through digital channels.

It is impossible to predict exactly what the financial ramifications of COVID-19 will be. However, we shouldn’t expect this pandemic to be a short-distance sprint but rather a marathon, and for this, banks need to be there for their customers to ensure that they are financially fit - or they will start training with somebody else.

Banks need to stay ahead of the curve by turning to digital channels and preserving the financial wellbeing of their customers

The personal finance landscape, specifically the way in which people make sense of their finances, has evolved tremendously over the past decade. In particular, there has been a shift in consumer behaviour whereby the demand for personalised services has increased dramatically, and people have become more critical of the banks that fail to help them lead healthier financial lives.

The personal finance landscape, specifically the way in which people make sense of their finances, has evolved tremendously over the past decade.

People no longer view banking as a purely transactional and one-dimensional functionality, but rather as a full-service experience helping them take control of their finances and achieve financial wellbeing. This shift in consumer behaviour and the increasing association of good financial habits with positive health and wellbeing also explains why the notion of ‘financial fitness’ has gained recognition within the personal finance landscape over the past few years as a term describing one’s increasing desire to feel good and confident about one’s financial situation.

The last few years have seen an increased prevalence of digital banking and a plethora of more personalised tools which suit the shifting needs and wants of consumers. The rate of digital banking adoption has also been significantly accelerated by the pandemic.

Research by deVere Group found that the use of fintech apps in Europe rose by 72% in March 2020, whilst a McKinsey study found that the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital banking by two years. In particular, the latter study found that online bank use rose in most European countries, from a 7% increase in Italy to 19% in Portugal, and that more than 20% of customers in Spain and the UK tried online banking for the first time during lockdown.

As both digital banking and financial health have gained increasing significance in 2020, it highlights the urgent need for banks to view their digital channels as a strategic asset and start re-prioritising their resources to focus on developing personal finance management (PFM) services and the financial self-help tools their customers need. If not, they risk losing significant market share to the challenger banks, who already excel in user experience and have digital leadership in their DNA.

The last few years have seen an increased prevalence of digital banking and a plethora of more personalised tools which suit the shifting needs and wants of consumers.

Becoming your customer’s financial personal trainer and drawing upon the health and fitness world when developing PFM services

In a global financial crisis, a bank’s underlying mission statement should be focused around helping their customers lead healthy financial lives. By instilling financial fitness into the organisation’s mission, banks will be able to truly prioritise developing PFM services, and thus provide their customers with the support they need to take ownership of their financial health.

In fact, when developing PFM services, banks should consider studying what makes health and fitness apps so addictive. The popular fitness app Strava uses all kinds of features and gamification to keep users engaged and to encourage them to take control of their own health, from social activity feeds, to weekly targets and personalised nudges.

In a way, physical health is very similar to financial health, it’s about building the right habits to positively impact your fitness and wellbeing. Banks should analyse what makes fitness apps successful and replicate some of their gamified features and elements of their design to  develop user-friendly banking apps which can be comparable to personal finance coaches and which focus on helping customers achieve goals and build healthier habits.

Ultimately, the main functionalities of a digital banking app must on one hand be to ensure it delivers the right information to customers through features like spending reports and automated budgeting, and on the other, enable customers to build better habits and stay in control of their finances. The latter can be achieved through financial gamification like savings challenges, or other features including personalised nudges and notifications, social media-like activity feeds, cash-flow assistants and personalised cashback rewards.

One bank that has done particularly well to create personalised banking solutions for their customers is Portugal’s Crédito Agrícola. Like many other European banks, Crédito Agrícola has been facing rapidly growing competition from challenger banks like Revolut and N26, but by bringing their own digital innovations to market they have been successful in maintaining their position as one of one of Portugal’s most reputable banking groups.

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In September 2019, Crédito Agrícola collaborated with Meniga to launch one of Portugal’s most popular digital banking apps, “moey!”. The moey! app relies on Meniga’s technology as an engine for categorisation and enrichment, to provide customers with a more immersive and interactive experience. The app enabled Crédito Agrícola customers to, firstly, stay on top of their finances through a number of informative features, such as insights, reports, budgeting and financial planning; and secondly, be encouraged and motivated to build and maintain healthy financial habits through a feature that is, in many ways, the foundation of all fitness apps: the ‘Activity Feed’. The activity feed is a functionality that enables banks to engage with their customers through personalised messages such as insights, advice, fun facts, targeted rewards and product recommendations.

The results were almost instantaneous, with over 130,000 app installs in the first 6 months after launch. Crucially, the app enabled Crédito Agrícola to increase its user engagement, with 90% of transactions being made via the app and more than 50% of moey! customers now active users.

By drawing upon the health and fitness world and understanding what functionalities engage users and encourage them to take control of their own health, banks will be able to develop banking solutions which provide much-needed support during this pandemic and help them build good financial habits. 

The dependency of people on their banks has never been stronger, and banks now have a real opportunity to maintain the loyalty of their customers and stave off competition from the challengers. To succeed, they need to recognise the importance of shifting their value proposition and core product offering to focus on elements of digital banking, financial fitness and personal finance management.

Ketan Parekh, Managing Director for Financial and Insurance Services at Fujitsu UKcomments on the emerging trends of the payments marketplace.

Digital wallets were already on the rise, but COVID-19 has accelerated this transformation. Consumers have been encouraged to limit contact by purchasing digitally, leading to changes such as an increase in the contactless spending limit.

And as digital and contactless payments become normalised, the move away from physical payments will happen seamlessly. It’s estimated that about a quarter of UK citizens will make at least one payment via a smartphone in 2023 – a figure that is only set to rise as time goes on. The UK may just be taking baby steps towards a digital-first future in banking.

A more streamlined payments service

People are more digitally savvy than ever. Therefore, slick payment experiences are not viewed as a luxury but are expected. And the speed and convenience that a digital wallet provides has always been an attractive proposition.

In fact, our research found that while security concerns were a key reason for consumers not adopting digital banking services, nearly a third (29%) of British consumers said they prioritise speed over security when it comes to completing transactions or transfers. Therefore, it is important that digital wallets are developed with security front-of-mind.

And many modern digital wallets already do provide good security. Biometric payment verification, used on most smartphone devices, is a much more secure way of paying than contactless on a credit or debit card.

While biometric credit cards are being developed by some banks, smartphone digital wallets provide ready-made fingerprint and facial recognition technology, which limits the risk of fraud and theft.

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Who’s leading this change? 

Organisations need to take note of the shift in consumer attitudes towards digital wallets if they want to be at the forefront of the transition – especially as there’s an increasing opaqueness in who is providing the payment services with many digital wallets. Take ApplePay: as a consumer you may see your bank’s name on the screen, but the Apple phone is, in fact, making the payment.

This allows these companies to benefit from the underlying customer data they receive, giving them a chance to control the payments marketplace.

Indeed, the rise in digital wallets has led to new, non-traditional players entering the finance industry. Apple has created its own credit card, while Facebook is still looking into developing a cryptocurrency and digital wallet on the platform – just two examples of how tech giants have entered the market.

Traditional banks should remain aware of this new competition. They command consumer trust – with over a third (36%) trusting them entirely but that does not make them invincible and new challengers will continue to emerge. And while new players don’t yet control the payments marketplace, there is certainly the potential for them to take the lead.

The market is about to become more convoluted than ever. And as wallets move increasingly digital, consumers may begin to go with the service that provides them with the best digital experience, over those they trust the most.

A digital-first future

Before COVID-19, banking was already transitioning from traditional payments to a digital-first means of spending. The pandemic has only accelerated that shift. And as consumers get more comfortable with spending via digital wallets, banks will need to consider how they are supporting the technology if they are to deliver the experiences that customers are demanding.

Digital sales from outlets like Target enjoyed an unprecedented 275% growth in recent months, according to the US Census Bureau. It seems that this is not an isolated case as businesses, especially ecommerce companies, are experiencing the same growth. With global currencies having taken a hit during the pandemic, it was uncertain as to what direction fintech would take. As it turns out, the world is now sprinting toward financial inclusiveness and eCommerce diversity.

The Need for Financial Inclusiveness in the International Market

Prior to the pandemic hitting, online transactions with cash-on-delivery (COD) options were highly popular for consumers around the globe. This, however, is no longer feasible in places like India and China where COD options are now disabled in order to minimise risk moving forward. As such, new avenues were needed and fintech answered the call. Fintech has long been regarded as a great enabler of financial inclusion by providing a reimagining of business models and processes, according to the World Bank. They believe that it is through fintech that suitable alternatives to COD will be found like crowdfunding, cashless transactions, and even peer-to-peer lending options.

Fashion Ecommerce Embracing Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusivity

While ecommerce is not a new concept in the fashion industry, consumers are now more discerning, especially about diversity and inclusivity. Nearly 34% of respondents in an Adobe survey said that they boycotted a brand due to a lack of diversity in advertising, while another 61% said diversity is the key to good advertising. This isn’t surprising, as high fashion brands have had their share of controversies like D&G’s “Eating with Chopsticks” or Gucci’s balaclava jumper. As such, fashion brands that are enlarging their ecommerce presence are actively reforming their advertising and marketing to emphasise inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity. One method that fashion eCommerce is trying out is redesigning their websites to be more accessible to a wider audience. Another is using a diverse sample of models for visual ads on their ecommerce platforms.

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Mobile Phone eCommerce Developments

A survey by Merchant Savvy found that nearly 70% of all eCommerce is conducted through mobile phones. While that number is high, retailers report that conversion rates vary as consumers still express concerns over security and user experience. In worst-case scenarios, not even 1 out of 10 successful transactions occurs via mobile phone. To combat this, brands are aiming to develop hybrid apps to work well with browsers as regular apps take up too much memory on devices. There is particular emphasis on making phones a universal digital wallet for frictionless and seamless transactions. This, however, requires better security, infrastructure, and devices capable of supporting the whole concept. As such, more mobile phone eCommerce development is being planned by large brands like Amazon, Apple, and others.

With the world impatient to move on from the effects of the pandemic, the fintech industry is striving to make sure that they have what it takes to meet demand. The upcoming months can expect a lot of additional emphasis on financial technology development. With eCommerce now the norm in transactions, it is exciting to see how else financial inclusiveness, diversity, and online transactions shall take root and bloom.

Yaela Shamberg, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at InvestCloud, offers Finance Monthly her insight on how wealth managers can engage investors with digital solutions.

The Desire for Digital

As wealth managers face the pressure of the race to zero fees in an increasingly competitive marketplace, they are looking for ways to mitigate these threats while simultaneously preparing for the oncoming wealth transfer. Recent research from IQ-EQ has revealed that $15 trillion USD is to be passed to Millennials, Gen X and Y in the next decade – triggering a new era of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) who are digital natives that expect online wealth management portals with cutting edge tools.

Digital advice tools for HNWIs have been available for some time, but few have proved ideal for this client base. This is because wealth managers are asking the wrong questions. When it comes to finding suitable digital tools, they are looking for a one-size-fits-all digital solution, when in truth, they would never think to offer an impersonalised service to clients offline. What they need are solutions that enable the same level of personalisation and understanding to the individual that they would provide face-to-face – creating true digital empathy.

Introducing Personas

Those who have been successful in their digital transformation are achieving this by developing multiple ‘digital personas’ that provide their clients with individual experiences and functionalities which speak to their characteristics and goals. This improves the client-manager relationship, as the client feels they are receiving a more tailored service that allows them to interact with their wealth in the ways that they want to. The number of personas one offers may differ depending on how much a firm wants to invest in developing digital experiences, and the diversity of its clients. Nevertheless, the requirements of HNWIs can be roughly split into three personas, which must be catered to at a basic level.

Those who have been successful in their digital transformation are achieving this by developing multiple ‘digital personas’ that provide their clients with individual experiences and functionalities which speak to their characteristics and goals.

The Hands-On Investor

The hands-on investor requires a self-select persona. They know about the financial markets and want to be involved in the investing process. Some may even want to make all of their financial decisions independently. For this demographic, tools to browse, research and self-select their chosen investments are crucial – enabling them to build their own models and feel involved in their investment process.

But this does not rule out the wealth manager. They must curate investment options, enabling the investor to filter through them by topic, trend or through insight into what their communities are selecting. Communicating with this type of persona must respect their mindset and preferences, by being on their terms. Having a variety of channels available such as chat, video calling and voice memos, enables the investor to choose how and when to interact with their wealth manager.

The Life Planner

The life planner needs to be catered to with a goals-based planning persona. To them, investments are a means to a very specific end – and they need a holistic service that takes into account their entire financial wellbeing. This means managers must pay close attention to their clients’ investment goals and understand exactly what they want to achieve and why. This breaks down to understanding their goal funding, their risk tolerance and a number of other factors.

This begins with empathetic discovery – meaning digital workflows that clarify investment goals including questionnaires and capturing total assets and liabilities, income and expenses, projecting cashflows and applying stochastic models. Once onboarded, the wealth manager needs to be constantly communicating with the client so that they can keep track of their progress as they approach life goals. They also need digital tools that help them visualise their progress such as charts and trackers.

Once onboarded, the wealth manager needs to be constantly communicating with the client so that they can keep track of their progress as they approach life goals.

The Traditionalist

There are absolutely still those who fall into the client segment that tend to prefer a “white glove” service from prestigious wealth managers and therefore require a traditional persona. These clients are typically ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) who require greater assistance from their wealth manager when choosing investments, and like these to be laid out in formal proposals.

These clients need a high level of customisation, which can be time-consuming. Digital advice builder tools come into play here as they enable automation, giving the wealth manager the ability to tailor portfolios to the client’s short and long-term goals and thematic interests quickly and efficiently. This frees up time that the wealth manager can now spend focusing on maximising profitability and tasks that add value. Then, these portfolios can be presented in the form of beautifully designed proposals which demonstrate greater empathy for the client’s preferences.

Making Digital Advice 'Stick'

Providing a wealth management service through the medium of tailored personas is a digital engagement strategy that enables greater digital empathy. But once the wealth manager has made this personalised service available, how can they make it ‘stick’ and keep clients coming back to their digital portals?

One way managers can keep clients coming back is by deploying gamification principles throughout the client experience – through which we can encourage greater and more active participation by implementing progression dynamics and establishing communities to help investors progress and learn. This is particularly useful for the self-selecting investor as it keeps the wealth management firm front and centre without being unnecessarily high-touch.

It can also be used to encourage positive behaviour from life planners, who can track their progress and be ‘rewarded’ when they enter useful information or complete certain actions within a desired timeframe. Establishing a community also enables them to gain insights into how their peers are progressing with their own investing goals. Keeping clients engaged in this way translates to longer-term loyalty, which in turn means greater profitability for the wealth management firm.

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For wealth management firms already using digital advice tools for other client segments, these can easily be expanded upon for HNWI demographics. Through a combination of personalised personas and behavioural science techniques to encourage loyalty and build trust, managers can service clients more effectively whilst taking advantage of automation that frees up time to take on new clients.

Digital Is Here

Regardless of investor types and personas, the future of digital offerings – for all – is here and with that comes a need to deploy digital empathy, tools and advice which enrich client lives. The use of thoughtful digital advice, seamlessly integrated into client portals and intuitive mobile apps, brings opportunities to uplevel client offerings, and match the premier services and tools they've come to expect from their wealth managers.

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