Congratulations, bankers—you made it through another year where the winds of change made retail banking ever-evolving. But as we move into 2018, things will continue to ebb and flow, particularly in your investment in new technology.
Here are just five of the areas banks and credit unions will need to account for in 2018.
The Inevitability of Mobile Wallet
Ever since Apple Pay arrived on the scene, you've probably been avoiding the subject. But the truth is, mobile payments and mobile wallet technology are inevitable. And soon consumers will be expecting it as an entry-level feature of the organization through which they bank. According to a survey from U.S. Bank, 47 percent of consumers would rather pay through digital means than through cash (now dipping to 45 percent in preferability).
While having a user-friendly mobile app was once the benchmark for banks and credit unions to keep up with national players and newcomers to the financial market, mobile payments in conjunction with these apps are going to become even harder to keep putting off in 2018.
It's time to get your product development team on the case—community banks and credit unions can be early adopters and get out ahead of the local competition at the very least.
The Expectation of Chat Capability
Though your support team may not have yet risen to the occasion of managing multi-channel customer service options (beyond in-person and phone-based), chat is here, and consumers expect it. The inability to chat with a rep through your website when a potential customer is ripe for the picking and ready to open an account will continue to winnow away your potential new leads.
Whether you have the humanpower in place or not, chat will become critical to banking consumers in 2018. The ideal situation is putting the governance in place to offer live, human interaction, but chatbots can be a sufficient entry-level tool for your organization to at least head in the right direction.
Onboarding your newest customers and members needs to be efficient and on-demand. Give your consumers the ability to select their ideal communication option to avoid them bouncing from your website.
The Ability to Shop at Will
Customer perception of your bank or credit union brand is rapidly changing. A recent study from Novantas found that even just three years ago, proximity to a branch was the No. 1 determining factor in selecting a financial institution. But in just three year's time, that factor has dropped to third-most-important, while excellence in mobile app technology and lack of ATM fees have overtaken the No. 1 and No. 2 slots.
This is a harbinger for things to come—consumers no longer are ruling out banks and credit unions based on closeness to their homes (perhaps since new generations are promoting a renter's culture of "mobile" living). The true sign of an FI that's worth investing in is how easy it is to shop for products on smartphones and tablets.
If you've avoided the "digital account-opening" conversation at your institution, now is the time to strike it up. Competitors nationwide are investing in a la carte and on-demand "shopping" for financial services.
The Rise of Voice Technology
We've all seen the ads with Alexa, Siri and Cortana—voice technology, particularly in smart homes, is becoming more and more readily available to consumers from all backgrounds. So what does this mean for the banking industry? You need to start anticipating this tendency of people to complete basic transactions, such as buying household items or setting appointments, through voice commands.
Banks and credit unions can get out ahead of this trend by preemptively planning for voice-command capability for basic transactions, such as account transfers, bill pay and simple balance checks.
According to a study from Bain, more than a quarter of consumers who feel FIs fall short on the technology front use voice-assistant technology on their smartphones or home devices.
The Need for Speed in Payments
While ACH has often been the gold standard for payment technology, real-time—truly real-time—payments are now becoming more and more expected from consumers. Instant gratification has been a perk, and it's now becoming a deciding factor in whether to utilize a financial service or not. A study from Ovum recently cited that half of U.S. banks and credit unions are increasing their spending in speeding up their payments in 2018.
Early ACH is one pathway that banks and credit unions can take on the outset, but consumers will desire more and more peer-to-peer mechanisms by which they can transfer funds with a high degree of immediacy.
Start looking into your options—the traditional ACH model will fall out of fashion quickly in the coming years, so expand your capabilities in faster transactions.