Over the past two years, trends in the financial services sector have certainly been shaped by the post-pandemic world. Today, as we move through another year of uncertainty and ever-changing constraints, priorities have shifted once again. There are more players in the financial sector than ever before, and the focus is on sustainability. The year 2021 has set the tone for major innovation in the industry.
While FSO companies rushed into digital transformation in 2020, trying to meet rising consumer demand, this year companies are refining their strategies to focus on digital customer experiences, exploiting the power of artificial intelligence and expanding platform offerings.
Conservatism and reluctance to change in the highly regulated public health space often stifle the potential for innovation, but the pandemic has accelerated this transition from physical to digital. Financial services companies therefore have no choice but to adapt to consumer expectations: 58% of customers prefer digital distribution channels for financial services.
Companies are not left out of this process: According to a Deloitte report, 38% of respondents in digitally advanced companies expect higher revenues in 2022, compared to 13% of respondents in less advanced companies. It’s clear that businesses and consumers benefit from being “digitally warned.”
Looking ahead to 2022, we examine five key digital trends that will shape the financial sector over the next year.
1 – Banks will Become More Socially and Environmentally Responsible
While 2020 was the year of digital for banks, 2021 was undoubtedly the year of sustainability. With the recent evolution of public awareness around climate change and ESG initiatives, it is becoming increasingly important for consumers to support companies that they believe are taking a proactive way to deal with resolving natural and social issues.
Whether it’s expanding opportunities for ESG investing or creating new senior management positions such as “sustainability officer,” financial firms need to instill a sense of purpose that goes beyond simply making profits for shareholders. Because of their unmatched influence on society as a whole, CSOs play a key role in shaping the future by committing to positive goals and realistic targets. As an example, HSBC and Santader have committed to being emissions-free by 2050.
In addition, $51.1 billion in net new investor money flowed into ESG funds in 2020 – a record and more than double the previous year. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. These funds focus on companies that are making a positive contribution to a more sustainable future, whether mitigating climate change or addressing inequality.
Beyond simply appealing to consumers’ moral principles, however, the ESG sector is seeing significant growth, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasting that renewable energy will account for nearly 95% of the expansion in worldwide energy limit by 2026. Therefore, aside from being a testament to greater environmental awareness, these funds undoubtedly represent very lucrative opportunities for investors.
By 2022, sustainability in the banking sector will not be a trend, but rather an established consumer expectation. More and more banks will rethink their orientation to communicate their target orientation according to these new principles and look for new ways to use their services and assets to effectively contribute to sustainable development.
2 – Companies will Improve Their Digital Strategies Using AI.
AI has myriad applications in IFS, from security and transaction facilitation to data regulation and bias management. In recent years, however, AI has focused on optimizing the customer experience with human-like chatbots that solve problems and collect more accurate data in real time to ensure a seamless user experience. In fact, Juniper Research estimates that chatbots for mobile banking will account for 79% of all successful chatbot interactions by 2023.
However, in addition to the increasing focus on delivering valuable customer interactions, we expect this focus to shift to leveraging AI capabilities to defend against cyberattacks in 2022. The inevitable transition to digital banking and contactless payments creates a much greater potential for fraud, so more companies will need to use artificial intelligence to ensure compliance. Artificial intelligence thus offers the opportunity to mitigate threats such as card payments and identity theft, as this information is more important than ever.
Speaking to its potential, Jane Loginova, CEO and co-founder of Radar Payments, stated that she believes financial services providers will continue to invest in AI security platforms that can “significantly reduce digital attacks and detect suspicious activity in real time.”
3 – Banking Platform Offerings will Grow.
There are more players in the financial space than ever before, and a growing number of non-banks are reducing their market share by integrating financial products into their digital marketing agency offerings. Due to the generally longer process of transferring money and the problems that exist with banking applications, consumers are increasingly turning to third-party payment providers, such as PayPal, for online purchases. In addition to offering greater convenience, these solutions also provide an additional layer of security for transactions.
This is not a new concept, especially in China, where online payments via third-party providers such as Alipay accounted for 39.7% of online purchases in 2014, while online banking transactions accounted for 34.4%. Today, that number is supposed to dramatically develop. In 2020 alone, there will be more than 15 billion transactions through PayPal worldwide, generating $936 billion.
Yet there is still a lot of untapped potential in this sector. Financial expert Simon Torrance estimates that the embedded financial services market is worth $3.6 trillion and will grow to $7.2 trillion by 2030. These platforms are replacing traditional distribution channels and helping to simplify transactions between service providers and consumers. If banks can learn from this and offer their own transparent experiences, consumers won’t have to turn directly to third-party solutions.
Although Banking as a Service (BaaS) and integrated financial services are fundamentally different concepts, banks have a lot of room to solve these problems themselves. Chirag Shah summarizes this potential by stating that “banks can build new relationships and discover new areas of growth by integrating white-label services that non-banks can offer to their customers. Therefore, in the coming years, we are likely to see banking platforms and their offerings grow significantly, or at least expand in partnership with third-party payment service providers to unlock new opportunities and drive revenue.
4 – Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) will Help IFS Companies to be Competitive.
The capabilities of CDPs have evolved significantly in recent years: Real-time data collection is more advanced than ever, and profiles can be aggregated and segmented more accurately.
As consumers expect a consistent experience across all platforms, CDPs are a valuable tool for achieving this in the TFR space. Data analytics enable more personalized interactions and thus higher conversions, while companies can use CDPs to predict customer behavior and tailor their audiences accordingly. Beyond that, however, CDPs play an important role in helping financial services firms improve data management.
The success of this process, however, depends heavily on what data firms choose to collect using CDPs and how efficiently they aggregate that information to derive useful insights. Rather than creating platforms that are tailored to specific needs, these platforms must learn to adapt and constantly evolve to meet the needs of customers.
Currently, only 31% of IGFs centralize customer data across digital and offline touchpoints. However, given the potential for CDPs to help financial services firms optimize the customer experience, more firms will undoubtedly turn to implementing CDPs in 2022 to help them better compete with their fintech peers.
5 – Firms will Redouble Their Efforts to Create Customer-Centric Experiences.
In the wake of the pandemic, brands have rushed to optimize their digital marketing company platforms to avoid being left behind. It’s no surprise, then, that many of the recent TFR innovations have focused on providing better, more consistent experiences for customers.
Despite this recent momentum, however, TFR companies have a relatively limited range of personalization options, especially compared to other industries. Aside from fairly superficial levels of personalization, such as username replacement, the reality is that most customer journeys in the financial services sector are not particularly targeted. So, there is great potential for this to evolve beyond relatively high-level approaches: According to CGI, 79% don’t mind banks using data to provide better products, services and advice.
As IFS companies continue to improve the collection of user journey data using CDP, we expect this to lead to a more optimized experience for every customer, with the customer at the center. Gradually, we expect each step in the user journey to take into account their previous interactions and their specific needs, as has already become the norm in other industries.
This new focus on customer-centric experiences will, in turn, lead financial platforms to become more inclusive and accessible as companies explore the full potential of personalization. In addition to increasing engagement among ISF firms themselves, customers will also benefit from a more unique experience that can be easily integrated into platforms.
While the pandemic has led to great instability, it has also ushered in a new era of innovation in financial services. Promoting digital strategies that put the customer first and adapt to changing consumer expectations is at the heart of this new offering, and foresees further development of this transformation in 2022, with a particular focus on building a more sustainable future.
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