By W.B. King
As the first days of January rolled off the calendar, the omicron variant was responsible for more than a million positive cases per day. And while this development likely wasn’t on many "tech trends” list for 2022, COVID continues to impact the industry, but so do other indicators, such as changing consumer preferences.
“Financial services are evolving quickly. Find ways to maintain relationships and relevancy with your members, whether by shifting staff to advisory roles, prioritizing high-touch interactions in every channel or meeting the changing generational needs of your members,” Bill Handel, general manager and chief economist at Raddon, a Fiserv company, noted in December 2021. “In 2022, organizations that succeed will continue to find ways to fortify their positions with their members and the communities they serve.”
Since 1983, the Lombard, Ill.-based Raddon has provided innovative research, analysis and strategic guidance to financial institutions.
Handel, who conveyed these predictions in Raddon’s “Finding success and optimism in an evolving economic environment” report, also noted that while the pandemic has been a trying period of time, there are reasons to maintain an optimistic outlook.
“If credit unions can maintain strong loan production, net growth numbers should move in a more positive direction,” Handel continued. “And as interest rates rise, expect a dramatic shift from refinancing to purchase mortgages – a market typically teeming with younger borrowers. Providing a faster, more frictionless mortgage experience in line with new, nonbank players will help attract and retain younger members.”
Customer Experience, Cloud Technology and Open Data
As Zafin’s Chief technology Officer Venkataraman Balasubrahamian looks at 2022, he believes digital “transformation” will become a main focus for financial institutions. “This priority will bring fintechs and traditional banks closer, serving as an impetus to the key themes of interoperability and integration,” he said.
The Toronto-based company offers a banking software enterprise platform that provides relationship-based pricing to banks, credit unions and financial institutions.
Balasubrahamian’s colleague Cameron Tickell, vice president ecosystem strategy, adds that the concept of “ecosystems” will be more fully realized.
“From competitors to collaborators, we are seeing more and more partnerships from the bank tech players and fintech players alike. Think model neobanks, Stripe and Klarna, and white-labelled banking-as-a-service,” Tickell noted, adding customer experience, cloud technology and open data will all continue as “significant” trends.
“In fact, regarding customer experience, it’s only a matter of time until a super app consolidates the interaction side of things,” Tickell said. “In contrast, I think artificial intelligence will barely be a blip on the radar in 2022. There is a still a clear lack of direction and business value drivers.”
Financial institutions should continue to keep a watchful eye on open banking and embedded finance, which Tickell added are “heavily debated and ideated.” In the coming year, he said new partnerships could emerge.
“I believe 2022 will be the year in which they help the traditional banks drive new product offerings and revenue streams,” he said. “Product packages that include your Netflix and Spotify subscriptions, subscription-based insurance and international transfers and wildly different loyalty point programs will make banking products feel a whole lot more ‘millennial.’”
Hashtag Cloud or Die?
Balasubrahamian, Tickell and other Zafin executives said they expect to see the increasing use of the following hashtags in 2022: # interoperate, # externalize, # cloud-or-die, # millenialbanking, # servicingSME, # cross-industry propositions, # createmyownFIpackage and # ESG-finance, among others.
Hashtags aside, Peter Kooner vice president of strategic sales at Zafin said retention, personalization, transparency and modernization are the four categories financial executives should keep an eye on in 2022.
“Now is the time to invest in new technologies that are centered on the customer experience. Customers will continue to have more choices in 2022,” Kooner noted. “The risk they will change banking providers is increased by open banking and the view from younger consumers that their bank is an app which can be easily changed.”
While younger generations are continually redefining banking practices, Raddon’s Handel said brick-and-mortar branches, which have been decreasing since 2008, are not headed toward total elimination.
“They’re evolving to meet changing member needs and preferences. The same research found younger generations are more likely to visit the branch to seek advice and open accounts. Face-to-face interactions still matter, even as use of self-service capabilities increases,” Handel noted.
“The more high-tech banking becomes, the more important personal, high-touch interactions are. When a member has trouble completing a digital transaction, they want immediate help, usually through live chat or video on a mobile device,” he continued. “The most effective organizations are those able to flip on a dime into high-touch mode to deliver outstanding service.”
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