Banking Mobile & Online

Leapfrogging the bank app to go straight to the electronic assistant

Leapfrogging the bank app to go straight to the electronic assistant. Main image: Georgejmclittle, Shutterstock.com
Written by Daniel Latimore

If you’re working on designing a great banking app, perhaps you should be looking at an electronic assistant too. Daniel Latimore says it’s closer than you think.

No one downloads a banking app from their store of choice for fun, nor do they open it up to amuse themselves. Instead, bank apps are used to accomplish specific tasks: check a balance, pay a bill, or send money to a friend. Despite the undeniable utility of these apps, institutions struggle to persuade their customers to use them. Adoption rates, depending on the specific measure, hover around 50% and have been stuck for a while at that plateau. Furthermore, while it’s undeniable that many customers want a better customer experience, and at least some of those customers would like more and better features, digital executives struggle to find the ROI of investment in their apps.

Of course, there’s the argument that it’s analogous to malls that put up Christmas and other holiday decorations – consumers just expect it, and there’s not an explicit ROI, but that’s the subject of another post.

What if consumers could perform their basic banking tasks without ever having to open up their banking app? They could say, “Siri, what’s my bank balance?” or “Alexa, pay the water bill out of my main checking account”. While we’re not there yet, consumer desire for convenience (aka “seamlessness” or the “frictionless customer experience”) knows no bounds.

What if consumers could perform basic banking tasks without ever opening their banking app? Click To Tweet

My experimentation with Siri and Alexa, together with my preliminary research into artificial intelligence in banking, have led me to hypothesise that this scenario is a lot closer than many bankers might imagine. In the obligatory Uber example, the payment is invisible; what happens when the consumer makes this happen in all other sorts of interactions?

How are you prepared to offer your customers this new level of service? Do you have APIs that will let this happen? And is there a strategy to go beyond simply fulfilling a request and offering more insight, advice, or perspective than simply what’s being asked for? Like European banks facing the challenge of PSD2, all retail institutions can look at this as a moment where they’ll be relegated to the background, or one where they can revamp their service models to build better, stronger and deeper customer relationships.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Main image: Georgejmclittle, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Daniel Latimore

Daniel W Latimore, CFA, is the senior vice president of Celent’s banking practice and is based in the firm’s Boston office. Dan covers the banking ecosystem, digital and omni-channel banking, innovation, and core systems.

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