Editor's note: In this quarter’s executive spotlight, we highlight Christina McGeorge, D3’s vice president of solutions consulting and product marketing.
Editor’s Note: The following is part one in a series of blogs excerpted from a report published by Celent entitled Defining A Digital Financial Institution by Daniel Latimore and Zilvinas Bareisis . D3 Banking has licensed the content used for general distribution. For the full report contact Celent.
No one disputes that branch traffic is down and digital use is up at financial institutions. However, there is much debate over the conclusion that such a trend means that branchless banking is just around the corner. To some, the argument for keeping branches open seems to be backward facing, to a time long gone when most consumers had to make a personal visit to their financial institution to make deposits, open accounts and send money. Why hang onto branches when all those services and more can be completed on digital devices? To others, the inability of banks and credit unions to personalize the end user’s digital experience makes them hesitant to close the branches where they still do the bulk of their selling.
Financial institutions are awash in data that could enable them to construct the most intimate financial portrait of their individual customers in history including information about transactions, financial holdings, location, biometrics, user experience and social media feeds.
The influence of digital access points on the decision by consumers to switch financial institutions continues to grow in importance. It makes a “business as usual” approach the most significant risk an institution can take in responding to the digital needs of customers. According to the Accenture 2014 North American Consumer Digital Banking survey, more than one in four customers would likely consider a branchless digital bank. In addition, nearly three-quarters of US customers—two-thirds in Canada—consider their banking relationship “merely transactional.”
An IBM report analyzing 2014 holiday spending shows the distinction and complementary nature of digital devices. Smartphones drove 31 percent of total online traffic, nearly two and a half times that of tablets. While smartphones drove the traffic, more purchases were completed on tablets. Tablet accounted for 13 percent of online sales, whereas smartphones only accounted for 9 percent of total online sales.
Christoffer O. Hernæs is executive VP of strategy, innovation and analysis at Sparebank 1 Group, Norway’s second-largest financial institution. His thoughts were recently published in TechCrunch and are second to none I have read when it comes to explaining what financial institutions should fear most about the digital age.
Here’s the breaking news he offers about that fear: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TECH COMPANIES WANTING TO BE BANKS. Mr. Hernæs explains, “The cost and complexity of running a bank is not compatible with the fundamental business model of tech companies, and meeting the capital requirements, compliance and overhead associated with running a bank is perhaps best left to the banks.”
More than a couple of really smart folks in the industry have suggested that for financial institutions to be able to respond to the digital revolution raging around them, they first must address the deficiencies in their core banking systems.
This past week, many industry news outlets reported on the new partnership between BBVA and Dwolla. According to the news release issued by BBVA, the agreement means that the bank’s customers will be able to use the Iowa startup’s real-time network to make money transfers.
Online forums and periodicals are filled with debates over the future of the branch. On one side are advocates for remodeling strategies that lower costs by providing the minimum needed to support those members who continue to frequent the branch. The other side argues that turning the branch into something more akin to shopping at an Apple store will drive more revenues through personalized member experiences.