From non-traditional banking providers like Square and PayPal to tech giants like Google and Amazon, there’s increasing incentive for companies to offer money transfer services that exclude traditional banks entirely. With all this disruption, how is the industry going to stay relevant?
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the too-big-to-fail banks on Wall Street are still facing blowback from consumers everywhere. This kind of reception had to be something that giants like Citi and Bank of America expected — what they couldn’t have foreseen was the rise of the mobile payment system.
What started as a single, limited alternative to physical banking with PayPal has become a full-blown industry trend. Now that immensely familiar companies like Apple and Google are establishing direct relationships with customers over convenient, simple money transfers, what’s to keep the banking industry from falling out of favor with American consumers?
How Banks Are Being Replaced
Many of these services, like PayPal, effectively replace the function that banks serve in customers’ lives. When you put money into accounts on these platforms, the money is left in that account and can be pulled back out from it — it’s never handed off to a bank at any point for safekeeping.
And it’s not just the business of hosting accounts that’s being taken over, but lending as well. Online services like Prosper let people lend money and take out loans without ever removing money from its completely online payment vehicle.
With trust in banking institutions rapidly declining and a youthful population that’s more than comfortable turning their money over to companies without big metal vaults, it’s hard not to see the threat this poses to the giants of Wall Street.
How They Can Stay Relevant
As BBVA’s recent purchase of the banking startup Simple suggests, disruption from the world of tech is not something that the banking and finance sector is taking lightly, according to Business Insider. But maintaining their hold on customers’ loyalty will take more than a few big purchases.
The most important priority for companies in this industry should be enhancing and streamlining the consumer’s digital experience of their brand. The average bank customer is getting less dependent on physical branches, so your company should do the same.
If banks can’t assure that each of their clients will have just as easy of a time navigating their services from their homes as from one of their locations, they’re going to struggle in the coming years.
And perhaps most importantly, these companies should leverage the thing they have that the new kids on the block don’t: expertise. Making access to financial consultation easy from any medium will provide a sense of assurance to customers that they aren’t being raked over the coals — one that other services just can’t provide — thus improving their status among the competition and winning back some goodwill.
The more personal and streamlined they can make their relationship to young customers through omnichannel experiences, the more insured they are for the digital age.
There are no sectors of the economy that can simply wait out the age of mobile technology, but banking is particularly vulnerable. But by seeing digital as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, this ailing industry just might be able to restore their image as trusted allies to their consumers — this time, they’ll just be on their phones instead of on the corner.