By : Russ Tarver
November 08, 2018 08:00 AM
CFIs need to ensure they are always looking to the future with their digital banking efforts.
Digital technologies have changed the face of the financial sector over the last few years. Today, many new customers may not have even stepped into a branch of their current financial institution, instead choosing to conduct all their interaction via digital channels.
Naturally, any bank that does not offer a comprehensive, easy-to-use suite of online services will therefore struggle to stay relevant in this environment. But just investing in digital solutions to meet current expectations is far from good enough.
Community banks and credit unions need to do much more than simply implement a platform that is fit for today's customers. If they do this then choose to rest on their laurels, satisfied that they are meeting their customers' expectations, they're likely to see only very short-term benefits.
Taking the long-term view
Even if community banks are only just putting the finishing touches to their current suite of solutions, they still need to be looking much further into the future. What customers are happy with now is unlikely to be what they will tolerate two, five or even ten years further down the line, so financial institutions of all sizes need a strategy that can keep up with demands, however far they shift in the future.
It can often be difficult to look ahead more than the next year or so. With consumer habits and trends changing all the time, innovations can go from taking their first steps to being a must-have necessity in a very short space of time.
For example, just a few years ago, many banks' mobile apps were fairly rudimentary and used by only a small percentage of users, if they existed at all. Today, however, they are the third most-popular app type in America, behind social media and weather apps, and usage has grown by 20 percent in the last year alone.
What may seem a very minor or unimportant technology today could be the standard way in which people interact with their financial institution in years to come. For instance, tools such as artificial intelligence-driven virtual assistants are becoming more common in many homes, and a few banks are starting to experiment with offering voice-driven services on these platforms. Could we all be asking Alexa to check our balance or make a payment in five years' time? Or will another new, as-of-yet unthought of technology, come along and displace today's platforms?
A partner for the next generation of technology
Big banks can afford to spend tens of millions of dollars every year studying emerging trends and testing a wide range of new innovations that can meet every possible future need in order to answer these questions. For community financial institutions (CFI), on the other hand, who do not have the huge research and development budgets of their larger, multinational counterparts, this may present a challenge.
This does not mean they have to sit back and be reactive to whatever comes next, however. For CFIs, the key to success will lie in teaming up with a partner that understands the technology, both now and in the years to come, and is able to help provide a future-proofed set of solutions so they won't stand still and be left behind while larger banks continue to innovate.
Having access to the right technology is only half the battle. Banks also need to ensure they can implement and deliver this in such a way as to align with the evolving needs of customers and the business. This means being flexible and adaptable to new requirements without having to completely replace existing tools and platforms. Same goes for the technology, ensuring that the tech that is implemented is flexible and open enough evolve with the business moving forward.
Trying to predict what the future will hold is always a tricky task, but with the right technology platform to build on, CFIs can be confident that whatever demands customers have in the future, their systems will be able to respond to meet them.
To see what the smartest digital banking solutions do differently – plus what one community credit union was accomplished with their digital banking technology – download the latest ebook from NCR.