The COVID-19 pandemic has struck hard in the last 2 years. It has pushed various sectors to question themselves and make adjustments where necessary, including the banking sector. In the past two years, this sector has put enormous effort into digitization, self-care, robotics as well as cybersecurity. This was and still is tremendously important to increase the efficiency of operations as well as competitiveness in the banking market.
This article will present an overview of the most popular trends for the coming year.
1. More and more bank branches are closing their doors.
You may have noticed that there are fewer and fewer bank branches in smaller communities and cities. The pandemic scaled back the physical contact between bankers and their customers. The opening hours changed and many branches even closed down. A quick search reveals, for example, that ING will close 55 branches in 2022, that the number of manned branches at KBC went from 570 to 535 in 2021, and that BNP Paribas has closed 267 of its 678 branches in the past year.
One of the explanations could be that Belgians are increasingly banking digitally via their smartphone, computer, or tablet. This approach has undeniable advantages. For example, there is much more flexibility for customers who can do their banking actions wherever and whenever. There are also fewer branch maintenance costs and lower online banking rates. However, this overlooks the target group of older people, as this population still prefers to do their banking in the “bank”. This population is, therefore, more and more reliant on having their banking done by third parties.
2. The development of e-wallets
E-wallets are electronic cards linked to an individual’s bank account. They can be compared to prepaid accounts in which users can store their money for a future online transaction. In the past 2 years, people have started using alternative ways to avoid physical contact. This contactless form of mobile banking allows customers to make a payment at any time of the day and almost from any iOS or Android device.
According to Allied Market Research’s predictions, approximately 4 billion people will use digital wallets as their primary payment method by 2024. In other words, such apps are a must for institutions that want to compete at the top.
3. Self-service banking
Customers are increasingly given the opportunity to do their own banking, and not only for transactions. It is also easier for customers to find documents or have them sent (via apps, telephony, etc.). In other words, customers nearly no longer need to physically go to a bank branch. For several banks, this was the signal to review processes, adapt them, and automate them where possible.
5. Video Banking
In 2022, the concept of video banking will evolve more and more. In other words, bank employees will increasingly be in contact with customers via a video link. In this event, no physical movement of the customer is required but a visual and or auditory contact remains. Customers will still feel involved with their banker although the meeting will take place online, as an auditory and/or visual contact remains.
The use of video banking will mainly regard consumer and investment banking.
6. Online and mobile banking
In the spring of 2020, several banks experienced an increase of around 200% in registrations on mobile apps. This results in a decisive decrease in the number of branch visits as the ability for customer self-service increased.
The demand for a wide range of functions has grown as a result. It is therefore very important for banks to understand this demand and to work with it in order to be able to continue to retain customers on the one hand and to win over new customers on the other.
7. Open banking
Open banking enables customers to consult the information of various financial institutions and organizations in an application, allowing external providers (with permission) to access the customer’s financial data. Open banking works through APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces), that enable applications to be synchronized, linked, or connected to a database.
APIs can be compared to bridges through which one can transfer personal data from an application to a database and vice versa in a relatively safe manner. For the banking industry, the use of APIs will be essential in the increased revenue and cost reduction strategies, workflow optimization, and limited time for a transaction.
8. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is already used in many sectors and will thus also find its way into the banking sector to simply increase customer personalization and service usage. It will enable the bank to predict customers’ actions and needs (to the extent possible), perform risk management and reduce fraud. Of course, it also aims to identify trends and analyze the competition.
As described above, 2022 will also be a challenging year for the banking sector. Direct contact with customers will diminish noticeably with the closing of bank branches and increased self-service. Various technologies will make it easier for customers to manage and arrange their banking actions themselves. Customers will no longer need to leave their armchair, so to speak, and will be able to initialize transactions digitally and contactless.
However, one target group is being overlooked. The older generation among us still prefers to arrange their banking affairs at the bank itself, with the branch employee they know and trust. These will increasingly disappear, and this target group might need to rely on third parties.