The Future of Retail Banking
During your morning workout at the gym, a device on your arm measures each step and connects with…your bank. By monitoring your healthy lifestyle, the bank can then arrange a lower rate on your health insurance. Later, when walking toward your office, you notice an apartment for sale in a neighborhood you have been scouting for real estate deals. So you point your smartphone at the building to view an augmented-reality image superimposed on the building. In turn, you see the price, square footage, and a live link to your bank’s virtual mortgage advisor.
These kinds of scenarios could become commonplace, once banks embrace the opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE) era. While today’s digital consumers demand experiences that are relevant to their current context, many feel that banks don’t understand their needs. Contextual interactions may be common when buying books or streaming movies, but customers sense a “value gap” with their banks. And many are willing to trust disruptive innovators from outside the traditional realm of financial services to fill this void.
Banks can keep pace with customer demand by adopting IoE-enabled solutions that offer expert advice, value-added services and convenience, whenever and wherever customers need them — and do so securely. Wearables and augmented reality are among the more forward-looking innovations that banks should be exploring today. But there are many other ways for banks to reconnect with customers.
In a recent Cisco survey of banking customers in 12 countries, respondents were extremely receptive to five core IoE-enabled banking solutions centered on advice (virtual financial advice, virtual mortgage advice and automated financial advice) and mobility (branch recognition and mobile payments). Seventy-five percent would move their money to another provider for one or more of the five concepts. In emerging markets, respondents are twice as likely to move their money.
These five core IoE-enabled concepts are just the beginning. In Cisco’s survey, we also explored additional emerging technologies. Sixty-three percent of bank customers globally are interested in using a smartwatch for mobile banking and payment services, including 93 percent in China. The ability to check balances was the most appealing smartwatch service. Customers, especially in emerging markets, also see the potential of contextual services on a smartwatch, including redeeming special offers, making payments and receiving proactive alerts.
Fifty-one percent of respondents would be interested in a life or health insurance product that tied its rates to healthy habits tracked on a wearable device such as a Fitbit. Sixty-one percent expressed interest in using GPS data to determine driving habits, while offering safe drivers lower premiums.
“Augmented reality” superimposes a digital image over the real world, often as seen through a mobile device. We asked respondents about their level of interest in using several augmented-reality applications that banks and financial services companies are developing. Globally, 89 percent were interested in one or more of the seven augmented-reality concepts that we tested.
The most popular capabilities use augmented reality to identify and redeem rewards. Several of these services can help banks increase branch visits (virtual locators) and engage customers with product information once they are in the branch. Customers are also interested in using augmented reality to make purchases via QR codes, or to identify investment opportunities.
As smartphones get “smarter” and more objects are connected to the Internet, banks can also partner with retailers and mobile marketers — or, as we have seen, local realtors — to deliver unique, real-time services.
Security, of course, will be a critical component of the success of all IoE-enabled banking solutions. Banks can differentiate themselves from competitors and reassure customers by adopting advanced security capabilities such as biometric authentication. For example, more than 80 percent of our survey respondents were interested in using fingerprint recognition to verify their identity and authorize financial transactions.
Customers around the world are ready for IoE-enabled solutions, and I believe banks in emerging and developed markets alike must heed the call to action. Banks will need to reassess their strategies, particularly around analytics, mobility, flexible IT architectures, and security solutions. By doing so, they will lay the foundation for innovative, customer-centric experiences as they capture new value and leap ahead of disruptive competitors.