I was watching a presentation from a potential supplier the other day, on how they propose our walls in our new branch should be designed so our credit union can be as flexible as possible for current and future needs. While I know that banking is changing at a rapid speed, but it is mind-boggling some days realizing just how fast it is changing.
The presenter indicated they complete ongoing research (or what they call innovation labs) on the banking industry and its access channels. Some of their findings are the same in other retail industries too. He indicated that development is in the works for the type of technology in this video:
This is Microsoft Office Lab’s vision for 2019
When you see videos like this, you think OK, well this may be coming in the future. What really was a shocker is that he indicated that this type of technology will be commercialized in the next five to seven years (or sooner). There are actual companies who are looking into integrating these types of systems into their retail locations (remember, this was coming from a building design guy). I am not sure what to think of this, but it sure makes you wonder. From some of the things they showed us (like placing touch-screen interactive applications in desks), it does not seem too far-fetched.
OK, so maybe I am a techie nerd, but I really want some of these technologies in my house! (teehee)
Here are some ways, from my perspective, that technology can be a game-changer in the banking world:
1. Electronic processes
People want things now (or maybe yesterday). The more busy the world gets, the more convenience they demand and the less time they have (it seems). As financial institutions, we use a lot of paper. I almost choked the other day realizing that we print over 100,000 pages a month for paper statements. And, that’s just one aspect—there’s mortgage and term renewals to send, membership forms to fill, and you name it. Credit unions should embrace this one—not only does this make processes more effective and efficient, it provides a better experience for our members and saves a lot of green (money and trees!).
2. Mobile and touch-screen information kiosks
This is not those mall kiosks you normally think of where the person comes up and gathers information. It could be something similar where members can grab digital information in-branch, but it is much more than that. Imagine going to see a wealth advisor where they have your planning scenario in their touch-screen desk application. You sit down for your appointment, where they have your illustrations on the screen and then can write on this like a SmartBoard and turn things around (with a swipe of their hand) so that you could see different scenarios to match your needs. Picture it almost like a giant smartphone. Then, once you figure what works best for you, they can print off (or even email to you) with your customized work plan that they digital ‘wrote’ on during your discussion.
Videos, calculators and even games (to keep your kids busy) are being integrated into these types of applications, where you can eliminate paper and create that awing experience for your members. Who knows what five or 10 extra minutes can mean if you can help keep your member’s kids busy and happy? Maybe they will be asking their parents to come back!
3. More convenient self-serve electronic banking
Well, you know…you’ve seen it. Remotely capturing images of checks, sending money virtually online through eTransfers, newly developed apps and alerts. The thing is that we sometimes don’t know what will be next. Technology is constantly evolving, where you need to keep on top of things. Change is the only thing that stays the same!
4. Removal of traditional plastic
You’ve probably heard the news that Bank of America, Chase and Citi in the United States and RBC and CIBC in Canada are working on creating a digital wallet, incorporating payments and other things like reward and loyalty points into one, on your smartphone.
People do guard their phones, so this is not a surprising medium. Have you ever seen those jokes TV shows where they ‘accidentally’ dropped the stranger’s smartphone after asking to see if they can borrow it to make a call? It isn’t pretty in most cases. The challenge is, will people trust swiping their phone for purchases and storing everything in one location? I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s starting already with big retail stores like Starbucks and Tim Hortons coffee. Only time will tell.
5. Targeted electronic information
Big data… what does it mean? And why is it in the spotlight lately? Most financial institutions take the information and data they have on their members or customers for granted. The possibilities are endless, but they also can be a nightmare, where you have so much data and don’t know where to start or how to manage it.
I used to work in the marketing world in the areas of sporting and entertainment. When I moved into the financial world, I was amazed how much information credit unions or banks have and was wondering why we were not using this to its’ full potential (this was over five years ago).
Today, it is great to see how much things have evolved and the possibilities to provide relevant information to our members by matching things with their profile. All of this targeted data can be integrated into a lot of these mediums already mentioned, such as information kiosks, ATMs, online banking and simply when assisting members on the front-line. But where do we start, and which ones do we invest in first? And what is the bill to bring it all together?
These technology scenarios may be scratching the surface in some cases. The question is, are you ready for how technology will impact banking? How are you using technology to your advantage? Do you view it as a strength at your credit union, or as an opportunity or a threat overall?
Chandra Matlock is the Manager of Marketing Services at Synergy Credit Union, a member-centric financial co-operative located throughout north-western Saskatchewan, serving over 28,000 members and their local communities.