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Anyone who doubted that the future of banking rested in the adoption of digital platforms may need to think again.
Anyone who doubted that the future of banking rested in the adoption of digital platforms may need to think again. Alongside the Lloyds Bank announcement of job losses and branch closures in October came the news that they intended to invest £1b in digital technology over the next three years. And they are not alone. RBS too is investing heavily in digital technology and Barclays has ‘digital eagles’, employees whose job is to help customers to become more comfortable with computers.
With BBA statistics revealing that mobile and internet banking accounts for some 40m transactions each week it’s not surprising that banks are moving away from branches and towards digital. In fact, according to BBC news in October, with people using commute times to do their banking on their mobile phones one banking chief executive has been heard to say that his busiest branch is the 07:20 commuter service into Waterloo!
And digital is by no means confined to existing outlets. Following a £25m fund raising exercise, fledgling bank Atom which hopes to open in 2015 has revealed some significant backers including Neil Woodford and Jim O’Neill. Atom aims to be the “UK’s first digital-only banking business,” offering customers access to “A bank that’s fair and transparent, that acts in the best interest of its customers. One that really doesn’t act like a bank at all.”
But with all of this investment in digital comes a challenge for the banks. With any technological change it is all too easy to get carried away with the technology and forget the end user. We’ve all encountered systems over the years which have been designed for the IT suite first and the customer last. Systems which are slow, confusing or clunky screens, order flows which never seem to offer the options which the customer needs… The list goes on but the general theme is the same; a complete disregard for customer interaction.
Banks now have the chance to lead the way, to work with customers to co-create a new era, one in which banking and finance are there to genuinely meet customer needs rather than to make a fast profit for the institution.