If we look at the world, our lives, and our expectations of today to those of mid 90s, you would notice that they are entirely different. Take for example, a simple book compared to Amazon’s Kindle which weighs less than a bottle of water but allows you to browse, buy and store thousands of books from one simple device.

The upgrade in our way of living has been made possible by technology, which is paving the way for an increasingly revolutionised and digitised future. So, if technology has the power to change the way we read, imagine the benefits for consumers when we leverage this alongside our banking strategy. The level of capability and scalability that technology brings with it allows us to automate a series of processes and in turn leaves us much more time to cater our offering to better suit our customers.

With that in mind, here are a few key areas banks should consider when reviewing their digital banking strategy:

Customer expectations

Over the past couple of years we have seen a huge rise in FinTechs and with it the increase in levels of customers’ expectations. Efma’s 2016 World Retail Banking Report quoted that a staggering 81.9% of customers are experiencing greater satisfaction banking with FinTechs. Given FinTechs’ size, they are quite agile and able to action on customer feedback at a much greater speed than traditional brick and mortar banks.

This means that fintechs have transformed the playing field and consumers expect to be listened to, have products and services they actually want and need. This has created a growing frustration amongst customers towards their traditional bank that are continuing to push a collection of financial products that they do not actually need. This poses a great question to traditional banks; what can they do to meet their customer’s’ expectations?

Open APIs

Open application program interfaces – APIs, in their purest form exist as a form of toolkit which allows for the seamless integration of new services and feature sets to be simply locked into already existing platforms. Open APIs are not a trend of the future, in fact, they have been around since as far back as 2000 with Salesforce as one of the early adopters. Salesforce have always been ahead of the curve in this context, if you compare Apple’s App Store which launched in 2008 and to this day remains closed to third parties, to Salesforce’s who launched an app store for their customers back in 2006.

When it comes to banking, APIs are not uncommon and are typically found exchanging data in their own realm of existing systems and partners. On the other side, you have the possibility to open up these APIs to third parties. While the very idea of sharing banking data could set alarm bells ringing in the minds of many ordinary consumers in terms of security and privacy. The benefits of sharing this data – with customer consent – should greatly outweigh the risks as it will help increase transparency, competitiveness and foster innovation that should ultimately benefit consumers.

Partnerships

Partnering with and acquiring fintech startups are options that most traditional banks should consider. Given customers’ sentiments towards digital banking with fintechs, it would certainly benefit brick and mortar banks to begin fraternising with this new, up and coming generation of banking.

One of the biggest reasons traditional banks should consider partnerships or acquisition is the ability to leverage on their agility. FinTechs have the luxury of being able to experiment, fail fast and continuously improve. This means that  FinTech startups are better able to roll out more innovative solutions and push products to market much more quickly, reduce innovation costs and help making a lasting impact on the business.

Collaboration

Following on from partnerships, there is always the option for traditional banks to collaborate with FinTechs while not necessarily acquiring their companies. In fact, banks have a great opportunity at their disposal, the ability to be able to add onto their existing financial services and products with those of others. If financial service providers are able to integrate a customer’s account balances and transactions from multiple banks on one platform, they will likely become that customers’ preferred interface.

A benefit, that’s not exactly quite clear but requires a specific mention is that by connecting third-party web services to primary services or data stores, this will make it possible to build new, better tools for customers to use. These connective tissues are similar to translators that will help improve the entire ecosystem for everyone, providing the access that third parties like Xero – and their customers – crave.

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