As banks emerge from COVID-19, sooner than later, they will have to think of revenue and profitability. The traditional business avenues of lending and fees, will be in short supply, given the economic uncertainty all over. Banks will have to move away from just being the seller of financial products and services and start behaving like a trusted financial advisor (or may be a financial planner to start with). And what better time than today, when the unsurety is palpable.
Being a trusted advisor would start from being a trusted brand across all the touch points. This is the consistent delivery of brand promise across the customer interactions and behaviour. This is where banks would reach out to their customers with a focussed and personalised or contextualised service delivery.
Today is the time when customer needs support and guidance on how to wade through these times. This can be a starting point to gradually move the customer towards day to day financial planning to life cycle based financial planning. This can be done through simple goals based banking products and services, where banks can allow simple day-to-day spend based goals, like for daily expenses, to move future based goals like “travel to Hawaii”, in 6 months, to “down payment” for that dream house. Many banks already have such products and services, like we see in Australia. However, what we see in Australia is just a starting point, this needs to be taken further towards an end-to-end financial advisory to the customer. From goals for the individual, this needs to be taken up as the goals for the family, especially, when goals are pivoted around the family, like “purchase of the house” or “child’s education”. For such big investments/expenses, funds across the family are anyway pooled in. So, why not the goals? This can be a good source of funds and cross-sell/up-sell avenues for the banks and drive usage across products and services.
One thing that everyone is observing right now and are certain to hasten even further going forward, is the customer move to everything digital. With the demand for digital services going up significantly and customer experiences from other industries, in particular the digital native tech leaders like Google, Amazon, Nexflix, Facebook, Apple, etc, of the world, customers will expect similar experiences from their banks. This is where banks will have to think like these tech giants and adopt and adapt business models that support delivery of such curated experiences.
These business models will revolve around owning the end-to-end customer experience by orchestrating ecosystems. These ecosystems will be built by the banks where non-financial product and service manufacturers will co-exist and be part of the holistic customer experience distribution framework. The Open Banking paradigms that have been regulatory driven in most countries, and are being considered or evaluated at many others, are being purely looked at from the regulatory compliance lens. This is where banks will have to challenge the status quo and think beyond banking.
The regulatory regimes for open banking, where banks have opened the bank through APIs for the use by the 3rd parties, can be used to build and orchestrate such ecosystems. Through these ecosystems, banks will earn revenue through non-financial products and services and increased customer contact and customer journeys. Customer contacts will increase by creating new customer propositions across customer journeys, more curated experiences. Such ecosystems can also help banks increase the conversion rates, by hyper-personalisation, to the extent of segment of one.
Imagine, if banks can build ecosystem for travel journey of the customer. Right from advising travel locations (based on customer preferences), to booking air tickets, hotels, local transportation, local eateries, to travel insurance, to travel card or forex, is all taken care of, and delivered by the bank, through the ecosystem that they have built. Each of these services in the travel journey of the customer, is provided to, by the bank’s partner, which becomes part of the bank’s ecosystem. To further personalise such experience (and increase the conversion rate), bank allows the choice of multiple partners in the ecosystem, which can render the required service in the journey. Customer can make the relevant choices based on her preference. This is where, banks become relevant to the customer and deliver the right experience, at the right time, and at the right channel.
Similarly, banks can look to build specialised ecosystems for specific needs. For e.g. an ecosystem for start-ups, or for specific industries like agriculture. Much would depend on where does one’s strengths lie and how much leverage one has in the marketplace. Bank’s can look to build ecosystem for SMEs, encompassing – taxation, accounting, payrolling, etc. services built in along with say transaction account from the bank.
Another way to “cast a wide net”, is to become part of the ecosystem of the large fintech players. These large fintech companies have a huge captive customer base, which would need financial products and services to meet their needs, or even to procure necessary service from the fintech. Bank can sell their products and services on these fintech platforms and enjoy the benefits of the expansive reach of these fintech. This increases the customer contact and increases the chances of a purchase tremendously. Banks can also become part of the purchase cycle at these fintech. For e.g., for a purchase of goods at Amazon, bank partners with Amazon, to offer a credit card, or even a loan to finish the purchase.