There is quote attributed to Archimedes that goes something like this: “Give me a fulcrum, and I shall move the world.”
In the banking world, amid the continued shift to digital services, the mobile device might just be the fulcrum. In other words, the central point that will help financial services become truly omnichannel.
As has been spotlighted in these pages, engagement is of paramount importance in financial services, no matter the setting — at branches, online or even through the Internet of Things (IoT). Though banks want to bring customers into the digital fold (it saves time and money, and, after all, 58 percent of consumers prefer digital banking to other methods), there will always be a need to serve them across physical locations, too. The goal for financial services, then, is a unified service model.
According to Sherif Samy, senior vice president of North America at Entersekt, banks have an inherent advantage in place when seeking to bring new features and services to clients: trust. It’s an asset not to be squandered, he told Karen Webster in a recent podcast.
Trust At The Beginning
The very idea of storing funds with a bank — in both digital and literal vaults — requires trust. As Samy stated, banks are grappling with a “significant level of transformation” tied to how they interact with consumers, and they need to find ways to serve several different demographics of consumers, from tech-savvy millennials to individuals who prefer to bank at physical locations.
The questions that banks are asking themselves include: “How do we mature those channels? How do we offer consumers the right level of service, which is all about — at the end of the day — the convenience for these different demographics of consumers?”
As Samy said, for banks, “it’s about transferring trust from the physical world to the virtual, digital world.” He noted that to build confidence in embracing sophisticated technologies to conduct sophisticated transactions, the mobile device is an ideal tool. After all, he told PYMNTS, the smartphone is a universal gadget that consumers have with them all the time, so it can be used in the branch, in the car and even with a voice-activated assistant.
As he put it, “If you take the mobile device as the primary factor of identification and authentication [for] the consumer, combining identity with that device means … the consumer is holding in their hand the portal and the key for all the other channels” accessible, and valuable, in an omnichannel banking relationship.
Samy went on to explain that the device will tell banks where the consumer is at a certain moment, so they can engage that user with an eye on context — offering special services tied to location, or sending push notifications to ask for transaction approvals, in an effort to combat fraud. It’s a type of healthy friction, he said, that a consumer will ultimately come to value.
He termed the above example as a “bi-directional secure dialog, using that mobile device, between the bank and the consumer.”
Leveraging The Trust Factor
Leveraging the inherent trust extant in the consumer-bank relationship at its beginning, and as it evolves over time in the digital realm, will also give rise to comfort with higher-value transactions and what he called “value-driven banking services.” Samy said that, at present, financial institutions are “moving [at] a bit of a calculated pace” to enable users to do more on their mobile devices than might have been done previously — well beyond checking balances or transferring money.
Technology is the core driver, and security is the enabler, in getting consumers to latch onto new use cases, he told Webster. Samy offered the case of a transaction that could impact a credit score, and how an alert might make that consumer think twice about taking on an additional credit burden. Thus, the relationship with the bank becomes an advisory one — a shift that Samy said will likely transform the branch experience itself.
“I [can still] use the mobile device, for example, to check in to that branch. I could use the mobile device to communicate while I’m in the branch itself, or to sign documents versus having to sign a piece of paper,” he explained. “So, even in the branch scenario, there’s a place [for] the mobile device, which is the key for that channel.”
Branches, he said, will eventually become advisory centers for financial literacy.
“If we start with the mobile device,” he told Webster of banks’ omnichannel strategies, “then it slowly gives the consumers the comfort level that they could use all these other channels. As they slowly adapt, consumers really start to understand the power that’s in their hands.”