The path to personalisation – FinTech Futures

I love mobile banking. It has been a game changer for me.

The next five years should be about building digital banking as a customer relationship platform

I love its simplicity – I can log in with my face or scroll through transactions using my thumb and the way it validates payees’ bank details is almost like magic.

I love the notifications which ping me on my watch every time money enters or leaves my account, and those that tell me I have just gone overdrawn. So much to love.

I look at mobile banking a lot, at least daily, and internet banking at least monthly (to do things the mobile app still cannot do).

This seems to be the case for the rest of you as well. Banks’ mobile activity runs into the millions and tens of millions of MAUs (bank speak for monthly active users).

If Facebook owned a bank, I think Mark Zuckerberg would look at every one of these interactions as an impression and say to advertisers, “Roll up, roll up and buy my lovely inventory. These are extra special because we know lots and lots about each and every one!”

But the banking industry is not a social media platform. There are regulations in place, and therefore to date, commercialising traffic within internet banking has not happened. Some like Revolut and American Express have in-app offers, but this is still untargeted and unsophisticated in approach.

Historically, digital infrastructure has been seen as a cost (or liability), but there is no doubt that a bank’s mobile app has tremendous potential as a sales “asset”.

In fact, I would argue that the mobile screen is probably the most valuable real estate that any bank owns. Without getting all Zuckerberg on y’all, if I were a bank, I would move my mobile app from the liability line in the balance sheet and make it (at least) a billion-dollar asset.

Why? Because the attitude towards liabilities and assets is opposing:

  • Cost is about efficiency and reduction. Asset is investment and potential.
  • Cost is sucking the air out of the room. Asset is breathing new life into what is there.
  • Cost is defensive. Asset is growth.

For the last 20 years, banks have used digital channels to drive costs out of their businesses in the great move to customer SELF-SERVICE. Branches have disappeared and call centres optimised through off-shoring and technology. This mission has largely been achieved, and the deep well of costs is starting to run dry.

The industry needs to change tack and adopt the “asset” mindset hinted at above. The next five years should be about building digital banking as a genuine customer RELATIONSHIP platform.

So what’s the big idea? How is this going to be achieved? In my view, enrichment through content and personalisation (let’s call it hyper-personalisation).

Current digital banking experiences tend to be limited to transactional functionality. But people need more than this.

Finance is a complex topic that confuses many. Mary Harper from Aviva mentions one small example in a LinkedIn post: “Just 27% of people are confident they know what a ‘good’ amount is to have in their pension for someone their age.”

That’s a pretty WOW stat! 73% of people have a pension knowledge gap.

Therefore, using the place where your money is most visible and visited (the mobile app) as a platform and enriching it with educational content doesn’t seem like a terrible idea, from podcasts to hints and tips, to tools and guides and even mentorship.

So, does this mean more content? Absolutely. A cursory look at what is currently available shows that banks have not been shy about producing content. They have lots of it. But it is often difficult to find and written in impenetrable bank speak, and customers have to go looking for it – it never comes to them.

Getting people to engage with this content is critical. The functional approach has trained customers to be transactional. Some re-training is required, and this is where personalisation comes in.

Data and insight-driven AI and machine learning can be used to sort through and bring relevant and meaningful content to the customer. And it needs to be made visible to the customer in a way that is not too jarring.

To get started, every bank needs to have a personalisation champion. Someone who can drive the agenda, understanding what is required to achieve the best customer outcome. They need to build bridges across the business, ensuring everyone has a vested interest in success across the usual silos.

To be clear, this is not a job for IT. Technology is obviously needed, but this must be about customer RELATIONSHIPS.

DBS is an example of a bank committed to making this happen. They have a champion, Gillian Lee, head of a group called Intelligent Banking, who drives its personalisation agenda.

DBS uses its transactional data to personalise notifications to customers, providing insights and ideas. Customers can feed back quickly and simply on the value of the information. What has DBS found? Customers love it.

The path to personalisation is apparent. But like every journey, it needs those first steps to be taken. Starting to think of mobile banking as an asset is not a bad first step.

About the author

The path to personalisation - FinTech FuturesDave Wallace is a user experience and marketing professional who has spent the last 25 years helping financial services companies design, launch and evolve digital customer experiences.

He is a passionate customer advocate and champion and a successful entrepreneur. 

Follow him on Twitter at @davejvwallace and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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