With further lockdowns, branch closures are only set to impact the banking landscape even more. Here Mark Aldred, banking specialist at Auriga, explains that despite the emphasis on new technology, the need for telephone banking will still remain, albeit as an integration tool for other services.
Mark Aldred, Auriga
ATM infrastructure and the rise of bank-neutral ATMs is a trend already present in European markets due to the reduction of bank branches. However, as a response to this, the government aims to lower the costs used in the banking industry through cloud migration, pooling, and investments. That said, since there are different prices of area-specific taxes required for bank branches and ATMs, certain markets may need more investment in self-service technology to help solve these issues. Even though this method does not necessarily mean that costs would be reduced, the overall goal is to nurse the economy back to health, which is what sharing ATM infrastructures has promised to achieve.
The rise of AI
As financial institutions find new ways to weave artificial intelligence into their business investments, this is set to continue in 2021. AI will be used to carry out repeatable and predictable processes, and predictions will forecast when cash is needed. Moreover, as the adoption of predictive tools saves both time and money, they can additionally anticipate the downtime in equipment use, and when engineering needs to be done to prevent any failures. Another innovative use of AI that will be seen in 2021 is the application of facial recognition. This will be used as a method to decipher the mood of customers by measuring the effects of bank services, as customers are a top priority.
Tele-banking is here to stay
Digital platforms are unreliable as technical disruptions can occur; therefore, banks need to have various channels. One viable option is tele-banking, as it is a stable lifeline just in case all else fails, however banks should also consider other options, as different customers prefer different methods of communication. Customer loyalty can also be affected due to the rise of impersonal modes of customer service, for example internet and mobile banking are faceless interactions. Eventually, this can lead to job losses, however banks need to assess the value of each channel, and how it is used by customers.
The entire banking ecosystem could collapse without tele-banking, especially as it is linked to video banking, a way to talk to banks via tellers on the ATMs and assisted self-service devices, which is becoming more relevant. An approach to increasing customer loyalty to legacy banks is by building a sense of connection through multiple services. This implies that neo-banks with a single channel need to apply a banking infrastructure, which can grant customers access to more services and engagement, instead of disenfranchising them.
Taking into consideration the implications of COVID-19, 2021 is all about making the customer experience smoother by improving the quality of customer banking services, which will eventually be measured through the adoption of AI. Although bank branches continue to close, which makes access to cash even more difficult, it is comforting to see that the future of banking is being accommodated by the government and communities, as they are actively finding new paths to the solution.