Banks and credit unions are in the midst of a digital transformation, evolving as increasingly mobile consumers demand more personalized, digital experiences and as fintechs continue to challenge traditional business methods. To stay competitive they must use technology to help innovate, differentiate, and mobilize their services. 5G — 5th generation wireless communication technology — is poised to help jumpstart another wave of digital innovation for the industry.
We are already seeing banks and credit unions using more technology to improve the customer experience, including mobile banking applications being developed with artificial intelligence, in-branch mobile devices such as tablets for customer service, and video services for training and collaboration.
In parallel, 5G is rolling out in parts of cities across the country. When mobile 5G is combined with these technologies, we will ultimately see innovative new uses developed that not only improve consumers’ experience, but also business outcomes.
Envisioning Banking’s Future with 5G Capability
While 4G brought speed that helped improve tasks like viewing a video on your mobile devices, 5G brings still greater value.
5G will be about the entire connected experience — not just faster speeds. 5G will ultimately provide ultra-low “latency” for no-wait, near-real-time connections. Latency impacts things like the time between pressing play and seeing a video start to stream or hitting a web link and seeing a webpage begin to load.
In addition, by 2025, experts predict there will be 80 billion connected devices worldwide. This is going to drive an explosion of connected smart speakers, sensors, cameras, machines and much more. 5G’s bandwidth will help maintain connectivity for all those devices.
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How 5G Could Change Banking Services
Over time, 5G will create significant new economic opportunities and other yet-to-be-discovered experiences for people and businesses. Let’s examine what this could look like.
• Increase in Mobile Banking. Almost 50% of the world’s population now has access to the internet, according to Frost and Sullivan, and with the rising use of smart phones, consumers will demand more mobile financial services.
5G will help manage this growing demand for mobile financial services, especially in high-traffic locations such as city centers, retail centers, stadium events, festivals and areas impacted by natural disasters.
In addition, because of the anticipated fast speeds and security of 5G, we could eventually see mobile becoming the main avenue for all things financial.
• A Mobile Banking Center at Your Football Game. With 5G’s ability to handle more data in high-traffic locations, we could eventually see smaller, mobile banking centers popping up in places like a crowded football fields. These mobile centers would feature all the services that a brick and mortar site would, but they could be transported easily from one location to the next.
A large retail bank tested 5G’s ability to power a full service, mobile banking center in a high-traffic retail location. The institution was able to set up services untethered over 5G that typically could only work in a branch office over a wired network. These services included an intelligent, video-based ATM, a telepresence pod with a financial advisor, a guest Wi-Fi network, digital signage, and DIRECTV.
• Highly Personalized Services. Financial businesses have already begun to provide personalized products and services and 5G eventually will only help improve these. And we’ll start to see new personalized experiences on mobile devices.
For instance, by combining 5G with AI, companies could better harness the always on, real-time data coming from devices to better predict customer preferences and behaviors. We could see more accurate lending decisions, better banking recommendations and highly personalized advice from digital banking assistants. In addition, customers could summon AI or human representatives for “anywhere” consultations over high-resolution video.
• Advanced ATMs. 5G could eventually facilitate advancements in ATMs such as using facial recognition to verify a consumer’s identity.
This would allow the consumer to quickly access their account without having to use a card and will help make transactions more secure by reducing the possibility of fraud. Not to mention, we could also eventually see consumers using facial recognition to make a payment.
• Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality. Untethered AR/VR devices will get a boost with 5G. We could see multiple use cases popping up in the finance industry. Remote banking agents could use AR/VR to provide a more immersive and engaging customer experience.
The technology could also be used to train or assist remote employees on complex issues that typically need to be taught in person. For instance, it would allow a remote expert to “see” what the local in-branch staff is seeing and provide support.
5G will significantly impact how banks work and engage with their customers. Banks and credit unions that embrace the technology and start to prepare for 5G will lead the way into the future.