14 Steps to Providing a Digital ‘Bank of the Future’ Experience

Improving traditional bank and credit union user experiences requires a combination of advanced design and digital technology.

When we look at fintech firms and challenger banks, the biggest differentiation is; 1) how data analytics are used for contextual personalization, 2) the simplicity of solution delivery and, 3) the way the customer feels about the engagement. In this article, we will present how the future of digital banking should look. It is based on recent experiences with engineering user interfaces for top financial service providers, and provides a vision of an ideal digital banking user journey.

In the future, a delightful digital user experience should leverage 10 emerging banking trends (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Personalization
  2. Big data analytics
  3. Open API and the cloud
  4. Voice commands
  5. Biometrics
  6. Social integration
  7. Gamification
  8. Nudge theory
  9. Robo advising
  10. Blockchain

When people were asked what the future of banking is about, their most popular answer was: “Me and my money.” Pretty simple and straightforward.  But, in real life, the definition is a bit more broad. A consumer’s financial life involves not only a person and and their money, but also their family, friends and how dozens of financial services can provide solutions.

It is agreed that it is important to know the overall financial status of all family members to effectively manage a household’s finance. It would also be helpful to know a consumer’s friends’ financial behaviors to get additional useful insights. And, finally, we want our bank to know us, look out for us, and reward us with the best possible financial solutions in real time. All of this can build better a better experience in our customer’s financial life.

So, how can a traditional bank be reinvented to provide a delightful digital banking experience of a challenger bank?

Step 1. Provide Easy & Secure Authentication

Digital banking users would like to have access to basic banking functionality as quickly as possible … every second counts. This includes, but is not limited to providing quick access for urgent bill payments, rapid balance inquiries and/or sending money to friends and relatives. Today, biometrics is well developed to provide instant access to the banking dashboard with an acceptable level of security. It means that traditional authentication via passwords becomes a throwback.

Step 2. Ensure Instant Introduction to Key Data

Providing an easy to understand view of a customer’s complete financial status is the highest priority of any banking interface scenario. The main dashboard must be clean, visual and easy to understand. It must include not only overall balance, but show movement of user’s finances and recent financial notifications keeping minimal visual density.

If the user has multiple accounts and manages the family budget, a well designed digital bank should ensure a convenient and intuitive switching between accounts via swipe. And a graphic designed balance chart could make it easy to evaluate money movement in each account.

Step 3. Show Financial Status at a Glance

For a proper evaluation of an overall financial status, users need to know their projected available balance, including future inflows and excluding money needed to pay routine bills in the near term. It is also best to explore income and expenses for the previous months with a comparison to the average levels in the same period for a particular account.

This equates to more of a money management ‘GPS’ view of finances as opposed to the traditional ‘rear-view mirror view of what has already occurred. All changes in financial status should be available to see in real time.

In those cases where a balance deficit is anticipated, users should have an opportunity, with just one click, to get financial support through an overdraft or pre-approved fast loan. It is also important to provide a method to add funds to the account or download an e-statement. And, of course, good digital banking UX will ensure access to edit the account name, configuration and primary status.

Step 4. Deliver Quick Spending Insights

The digital bank of the future shows money movement in a clear and intuitive banking interface, thus returning financial control to the consumer. Users should have an instant understanding of the level and nature of their spending, and get clear recommendations on how their financial situation could be improved.

The digital bank of the future could use a balance chart to provide a lot of valuable information. In addition to the overall dynamics of the user balance, the chart is able to show a forecast for the near future. Charts can also allow users to explore paid, unpaid and scheduled bills, as well as illustrate the user’s budget level.

To provide even better customer experience, a personal financial management module should sort all transactions by category, and allow users to set a budget for each category. The user also should be able to see how expenditures are moving in any of the categories on the timeline. Comparing spending levels with friends or typical bank customers could help the user evaluate his/her financial behavior and optimize it compared to peers.

Step 5. Create “One Stop” for all User Accounts

In addition to deposit accounts, users should also have credit accounts, investment accounts and other relationships in one location (no silos). The ideal digital bank of the future must perform ideal banking UX for all types of accounts, enabling users to easily monitor, manage and combine them. All types of financial accounts could be connected to the mobile banking app so users can get overall insights about their actual financial wealth in a single dashboard.

On the basis of big data analytics, banking AI can determine a given client’s preferred investment strategies. In this case, AI can provide an investment robo-advisor user interface between a customer’s accounts allowing users to start investments with one click.

Step 6. Change Transactions History to a Financial Activity Feed

The second most popular financial activity, after checking a balance, is viewing transaction history. A digital banking user should be able to get more value than simply viewing recent account transactions.

Therefore, we need to rethink the traditional transaction history user interface and transform it into an activity feed. With this transformation, it will be possible to see information on cash transactions, suggestions from user friends, system recommendations and notifications in one banking timeline interface.

It could be explained as something similar to a Facebook or Twitter timeline, in which you can simply scroll down to see all that happened recently. This format would be more familiar and clear for mobile users.

Besides financial transactions, the activity feed UI should show users’ friends’ opinions about various financial services and other social-based recommendations. It should also include advice and service tips that improve the user’s financial behavior. Users will see contextual recommendations from banking AI using predictive analytics based on big data according to the nudge theory.

Recommendations may include how to reduce spending in certain categories, information about critical financial status, recommendations about savings and investments, reminders to pay bills, contextual messages about nearby ATMs when in a new city, contextual budget alerts when visiting retail shops, etc. In other words, everything that helps to keep and enhance the user’s financial experience and health.

From the UI perspective, we could put transactions under the accounts screen and link them with the balance chart. Therefore, when moving the chart, users can see transactions for a particular period … an easy and intuitive banking user experience.

Step 7. Allow Users to Interact with Every Transaction

Detailed information on each transaction should be available by a simple click. Banking dashboard design should provide users with detailed information on transactions, including the location on a map. Quick transaction menus would be particularly convenient for splitting the restaurant bill with friends by sending them a payment request. Users also should be able to sort out all related transactions, edit transaction categories or instantly report suspicious activity.

Step 8. Make Instant P2P Payments Simple

Money transfers and bill payments are included as a top priority for digital banking user experience improvements since they usually cause the greatest dissatisfaction due to the time and extra effort usually required. Users wonder … why it takes a few seconds to send a message on Facebook, but sending money in a banking app still takes days.

For the digital bank of the future, money transfers and bill payments should be no more difficult than sending a text via messenger. This will require smart contact synchronization from a banking database, social networks, and phone book within a single contact list. Digital banks must find and combine identical contacts to ensure an ultimate banking user experience.

The use of the blockchain network by all digital banking partners can help ensure maximum safety, transparency, convenience and speed of payments user experience.

Step 9. Remind User to Pay the Bills

Why should users be forced to open the payments section of their mobile banking application to pay routine bills? Financial AI settings should be used to automatically prepare or even pay bills. The digital bank of the future should put regular bill payments into the user’s activity feed and send push notifications so the user can pay them with one tap.

Step 10. Use AI Voice Capabilities to Become a Financial Concierge

The digital bank of the future will allow all tasks to be solved through an AI-powered voice concierge service. Users should be able to easily submit any request, from “Send $100 to my mother” to “Find the nearest ATM.” The financial concierge will save bank customers time and effort.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will allow customers to go even further, integrating the digital bank UX with smart home assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home. It will bring us voice-enabled banking UX right from our home. Using authorization from voice ID biometrics, customers can check balances, forthcoming payments, make transfers … all without pressing any button… and without even leaving the sofa.

What will the workflow of a voice concierge for a digital bank of the future look like? Suppose you want a personal loan; tap a mic icon and voice your request. Banking AI identifies your request and offers a choice of available options. In this particular digital banking case study, one of the offers has already been prepared and approved according to your credit score. All that remains is to tap “Confirm,” and the money will appear on your balance in seconds.

This is one of the basic principles of the future bank UX — proactivity instead of reactivity. Digital banks of the future won’t have to wait for a request from a user. Financial AI concierges will automatically prepare and approve a proposal for the maximum number of services using big data-based predictive analytics. This will significantly enhance the banking customer experience and provide instant service.

Step 11. Become the Marketplace for Hundreds of Services

Today banks are offering customers dozens of services. But, unfortunately, users can’t easily figure out how to use them in order to reap the maximum financial portfolio value. The ideal digital bank of the future UX will be focused on providing ultimate benefits for customers – not only by offering more simple services – but by increasing the number of options multi-fold. This provides full banking personalization for different types of customers with both internal and external solutions.

A possible way to ensure such banking experience is built is using the principles of an open API platform. A bank-as-a-platform (BaaP) interface must be able to integrate not only financial services but also retail and other types of services. It will let AI of the digital bank of the future provide the user with the necessary service(s) at the right time.

The bank UX will be transformed into a personal digital concierge that could ensure maximum user satisfaction with different types of services.

Step 12. Guide User Through Financial Milestones

Every socially active consumer passes certain financial and personal milestones, including the payment of higher education, buying a car, purchasing vacation tickets, buying home appliances, investing, buying a home, building retirement savings, etc. Customers need support to set up the next target in their financial life.

To provide this, the digital bank of the future should use UI templates and relevant objectives, to set up automatic transfers into saving or investment accounts to reach financial goals.

Step 13. Add Fun to Banking Services

Why do financial services UX have to be boring and outdated? Let’s bring fun into finance. Rewards points and financial status could be used for banking gamification. Examples are rewards for trying new services, sharing financial experiences with friends, participating in the banking community or achieving personal savings or investment goals.

SA digital bank of the future gamification platform could also be used for cross-promotions from different partners. A higher status shows a customer’s experience and credibility. For users, it will ensure service discounts or exclusive offers with limited access. Points can be turned into gifts, free goods or services. Customer achievements could be shared with user social connections to gain respect for financial expertise.

Step 14. Transform Ads Into Care Using AI

The most powerful feature that could be available with a digital bank of the future AI concierge is personalized promotions. Financial AI allows to choose the most important and useful services and provide customers with information about these services at the right time.

Banking personalization could be ensured by using predictive analytics. In particular, it has to combine analysis of the activity and the user’s financial status, the analysis of user’s social environment, big data analysis on typical behavioral patterns, geolocation data and contextual analysis.

For example, location-based push notifications may come at the time of visiting a new city or country and contain information about the ATM locations as well as the location of other useful services. Child spending or maternity grants detected by banking AI could become an ideal reason to offer a loan on increasing the living space. Flight ticket buying transactions will be a good occasion to offer an insurance policy for travel. Car warranty period endings detected by leasing or insurance data is the perfect time to offer a new car purchase. Moreover, each promotional offer must provide everything needed for instant one-button receipt of goods or services.

In particular, let’s say you got a push notification about a pre-approved loan offer for a new car. You find it attractive and it takes you to the digital bank of the future app login, and then to the car list. Just tap on the “Buy” button and confirm the agreement. That’s it; your new car with papers will be delivered to your home tomorrow. Without visiting car dealerships, without visiting the bank, you are saving you time and effort purchasing a car faster than in the online store.

Each of these enhancements to traditional banking are available and accessible today. Each one turns traditional banking into the level of service seen at fintech and challenger banks. The question is whether traditional banks are willing to move forward and provide the digital bank of the future experience?

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