2021 opened customers’ eyes to the possibilities of digital-first banking. In 2022, says Anuj Nayar, financial health officer of Lending Club, we can only expect their demand for experiences tailored to their financial journeys to grow even more. Read his thoughts in the PYMNTS eBook, “In a Word: 50 Thought Leaders Sum Up 2021.”
2021 can be summed up in one word: transformative. This last year has shown us how businesses of all types quickly transformed to meet consumers’ expectations. Even in the face of unpredictable COVID changes, the prominence of digital-first banks has grown.
Consumers want a digital-first experience tailored to their financial journey, and this expectation is likely to only increase now that they’ve seen what’s possible. COVID has accelerated bank digitalization, which I expect will continue long after the pandemic is over.
As COVID accelerated the adoption and use of online banking experiences, the past two years have shown that banks can’t just rely on having a branch close to a customer’s home. They must provide and tailor digital services that speak to each customer’s unique financial journey. Traditional banks often treat each financial product as a standalone profit center with little insight into each customer’s needs or financial health journey, and innovation often comes through acquiring other companies. This places the products themselves at the focus of business growth — not the customers.
Banks that grew this past year typically prioritized and customized their services to individual needs, and FinTech played a key role.
Even before COVID, FinTech had transformed the banking landscape, making it more accessible, personal and transparent. However, the current FinTech model is quite limiting, because FinTechs are still tackling specific profit centers for banks without solving the problem from within. Put simply, many FinTechs are just putting a new front end to traditional banking products. However, true innovation comes from creating a seamless, integrated customer experience that starts with a holistic customer view
Some FinTechs are starting to realize that the solution is for them to become banks. LendingClub’s acquisition of Radius is an example of a FinTech combining with a bank in order to redefine financial services, as compared to completing an acquisition just for a new financial product.
FinTechs and banks have to come together — ultimately for the benefit of customers by providing services and products that meet the needs of their personal financial journey. I anticipate that the next few years will be transformative for the entire banking industry, and will bring more changes as more FinTechs and banks realize this truth.