Banking 2030, Part 4: The Path to Delivering Fully Integrated Banking Experiences

Special Report: "Digital transformation" has outlived its usefulness as a strategic roadmap, thanks to often woolly prescriptions and numbing ubiquity. At the same time, however, a future vision is finaly coming into focus of financial products and services seamlessly embedded digitally throughout consumers' daily lives. That new reality may arrive sooner than we think.

Banking in 2030 holds the promise of a remarkable transformation.

The Bank of 2030 will seamlessly blend into the tapestry of daily life, becoming an integral part of our routines, yet almost invisible in its presence — a genuinely customer-centric experience. Payments and financial transactions will flow effortlessly in the background, seamlessly integrated into non-bank apps and everyday contexts. Augmented reality may enrich our interactions by providing valuable information and support where and when needed.

As open banking gains momentum, financial activities will naturally gravitate towards the platforms and apps we already use, eliminating the need for separate banking destinations. Investing may become as simple as engaging on a social networking platform, while borrowing seamlessly occurs within a retailer’s app. The future bank will meet us where we are, simplifying our financial lives.

Did you miss the other parts of this series? Read them here:

 

Real-time account-to-account payment systems will replace traditional payment methods, ensuring instant settlement of transactions. The emergence of central bank digital currencies may offer a new, native digital format for money, further streamlining financial interactions. Embedded finance will empower non-financial brands to become transaction hubs, while open banking will ensure smooth connectivity across various financial services and platforms.

In this vision of 2030, the legacy of personal relationships in banking, like the story of William Zeckendorf’s timely loan (recounted in part one), will endure. Technology may enhance our experiences, but human expertise and trust will remain essential, especially for significant financial decisions.

What Technologies Set Bank 2030 Apart?

Behind the scenes, artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics will empower banks to understand each customer at an individual level and predict their needs in real-time. Automation and blockchain-based smart contracts will help settle transactions instantly and securely. For customers, the bank of the future may fade into the background of their daily lives.

Financial activities like transferring money, making payments, and applying for loans could happen effortlessly within the apps and platforms they already use. Going to a separate banking website or app may become less important.

At the same time, human expertise will remain essential for navigating major financial decisions. Customers will still want personal connections and advice for mortgages, small business loans, inheritance planning, and retirement. The augmented advisor, fusing AI insights with human empathy, could become the gold standard for delivering trusted guidance.

“For customers, the bank of the future may fade into the background of their daily lives.”

While emerging technologies will bring conveniences, we might not be able to imagine today, the innate human desires for relationships and expertise will endure. The Bank of 2030 could fulfill both — seamless digital integration combined with the lasting value of human trust.

This blending of high-tech capabilities and high-touch personal connections will define the customer-centric banking experience of the future. As banking evolves over the next decade, maintaining a steadfast focus on people as much as technology will unlock limitless possibilities for improving financial lives.

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Embracing digital transformation is a compelling prospect for banks, promising increased innovation velocity. However, this transformation journey necessitates addressing the formidable challenge of dismantling decades-old, convoluted legacy infrastructure and eradicating data silos that have long isolated valuable information.

As Patrick McKenzie, a strategic advisor to payments firm Stripe, astutely advises, a crucial initial step involves bridging the gap between banking professionals and technologists to tackle the visible roadblocks hindering customer-centric progress.

Cultural change is often the precursor to technological transformation. Banks must proactively prepare for this essential cultural shift before anticipating a technological revolution that enhances the customer experience. This shift in mindset involves cultivating an environment that fosters collaboration, adaptability, and a collective dedication to innovation, permeating all levels of the organization.

Implementing This Vision Will Not Be Cheap

The upgrade to modern technology necessitates substantial multi-year investments. According to S&P Global, leading banks are expected to allocate over $200 billion to technology initiatives between 2022 and 2025. Key focus areas encompass migrating to cloud-based infrastructure, unlocking APIs to enhance interoperability, and modernizing aging core systems.

Additionally, harnessing data-driven insights into customer needs is paramount. By implementing advanced analytics, banks can better anticipate and fulfill customer requirements, moving away from the historical guesswork that has characterized their service offerings.

Transitioning to flexible technology: Legacy mainframe systems have long been a bottleneck for agility and innovation within many banks. The migration of core infrastructure to the cloud offers transformative benefits, including on-demand scalability, rapid deployment of new software, and built-in resilience.

Accenture’s research indicates that top banks plan to invest over $60 billion in cloud adoption by 2025 — additionally, cloud bank platforms offered by fintechs like Thought Machine promise even faster innovation.

Open API architectures represent another pivotal technological advancement. They enable seamless integration with fintech partners, facilitating the delivery of new digital experiences at an accelerated pace.

The Technologies To Invest In:

How much the top banks plan to invest in cloud adoption by 2025
over $60 billion

Banks burdened with siloed and aging technology systems often find themselves launching new offerings years behind their nimbler competitors. By exposing their capabilities through APIs, banks empower partners to self-serve and leverage the banks’ strengths, thereby driving innovation and enhancing customer experiences.

Furthermore, adopting agile development practices is essential for modernizing banking systems. Breaking down monolithic applications into microservices empowers small, cross-functional teams to iterate quickly. This approach allows for faster and more frequent releases, eliminating the instability associated with infrequent, massive upgrades. Transitioning from traditional waterfall development to agile methodologies may require a cultural shift within banks, but it ultimately positions them to compete at the speed of fintech disruptors.

Leveraging data and AI: Despite sitting on vast amounts of data, many banks have yet to fully capitalize on its potential. Applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to transaction histories, customer demographics, and market trends enables banks to hyper-personalize offerings and predict customer needs. Enhanced analytics also would allow banks to assess risk more accurately, reduce manual processes, and boost employee productivity.

Leading banks have made substantial investments in data science talent. For example, JPMorgan Chase has over 50,000 technologists and has onboarded thousands of data scientists. Refinitiv estimates that spending on AI by financial firms will exceed $7 billion by 2024. However, progress in leveraging AI and data analytics hinges not only on the raw technology but also on effective data governance and a cultural shift within organizations to support data-driven decision-making fully.

Dig deeper: JPMorgan Defends Contrarian Branch Strategy

Accelerating innovation: The future of banking will be marked by rapid innovation, driven by the proliferation of cloud platforms and APIs that enable banks to experiment and iterate at an unprecedented pace. Development sandbox environments provided by tech giants like Google and AWS, as well as fintech companies, will allow banks to test new ideas and concepts without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. Real-time usage data and behavioral analytics will become powerful tools for personalizing services and offerings to meet individual customer needs.

Cutting-edge technologies such as quantum computing, predictive analytics, and blockchain-based programmable money will play pivotal roles in driving operational efficiencies within banks. By 2030, these technologies may become the industry standard, enabling banks to offer their customers more advanced and efficient services. Additionally, emerging concepts like the metaverse could usher in virtual financial scenarios, allowing customers to practice real-life financial decisions, such as homebuying, in a simulated environment. The bank of the future will strive to make today’s emerging technologies mainstream, enhancing the customer experience.

J.P. Mark is an equity research analyst and the founder of Farmhouse Equity Research, LLC. Prior to launching his own firm, J.P. was Managing Director and Director of Research for Wells Fargo Securities, a Vice President and Senior Equity Research Analyst at Dain Rauscher Wessels, as well as holding research roles at the investment banking firms of Montgomery Securities and Robertson, Stephens & Company in San Francisco.

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