As Bill Gates said, “Banking is necessary, banks are not.” And that's true. Fintechs are all about improving the lives of the users.
In 2018, venture capitalists raised $111 billion USD to support the Fintech revolution.
From the first sight, with the biggest banks controlling nearly $17 trillion in assets, Fintech’s $111 billion looks like peanuts.
We have to consider that retail banks spend $30 billion annually on digital transformation, which is not so impressive compared to Fintech’s $111 billion.
It's self evident that the Fintech trend is growing stronger and entering all the financial sectors.
How and why did it happen?
Traditional banks and financial sectors have been playing catch-up with very little change over the past 20 years. Bank managers are hesitant to embrace change and new technologies. Some may disagree, saying that banks have come a long way over the years, but, in reality, all improvements were made in favor of a banking profit and not the customers.
Online banking has reduced the need for regular visits to bank branches. This has changed how we perceive banking services but not the banking model itself.
Online banking probably wouldn’t happen if accountants didn’t notice that the costs of maintaining an online banking system are much less than that of the branches.
Transitioning to online was a strategic and beneficial move for banks. Unfortunately, just because you are on the web doesn’t mean you understand it. On the other hand, Fintechs secure the clients better than any bank with a suitable and efficient online strategy.
First of all, the Fintech revolution started during the last financial crisis in 2008. Previous finance sector employees who lost their jobs weren't ready to give up on finance. They teamed up with IT professionals and started creating Fintech startups that were solving people’s problems instead of banking problems.
Due to the economic crisis, the trust in traditional banks was damaged, and everyone was eager to save and manage their money. This was a huge opportunity for the finance industry, and new finance-oriented services started booming.
Secondly, we are living in the digital age, which opened up countless opportunities for the financial industry. If you look at today’s most valuable companies, you will see five tech giants. The digital age requires an absolutely new approach and mindset─ one that's 100% user-centered.
Mobile banking eliminates market entry barriers, which creates a demand for financial services regardless of location. Today, 89% of all consumers use mobile banking, according to a Business Insider Intelligence study, and Fintech is providing a solution to banking customers, enabling them to compete with the “big” banks.
How Fintech won over their customers
The Fintech revolution brought us better finance management tools, mobile payments, crowdfunding, fast loans, peer-to-peer lending, etc. All of this was done by brilliant minds that came together, understood the significance of Design thinking and created services in an environment where banks struggled. Fintech innovators understand the real struggle customers face when they have to perform banking services.
Fintech startups understand that splitting banking services and mastering at least one of them will grant them recognition and maximum customer satisfaction. This is where banks have failed with their online services. There are so many that are overly complex and confusing. Some Fintechs have a vision that traditional banks lack, and that vision is an experience that is user-oriented.
App quality index score of the nearly 6,500 finance apps in Google Play and Apple App Store by industries, as rated by their U.S. customers
Fintech owners see finance through the eyes of the customers. They choose to be all about the customer and create products they would want to use themselves. Banks, on the other hand, focus on better loans, fees and branch locations, but users value comfort, accessibility and simplicity. This is how crowdfunding and fast loans became so popular. It is easier to start a Kickstarter campaign and receive the necessary product funding than go to a bank branch and ask for a loan. The same scenario happens with digital-only challenger banks, which have secured millions of customers in a few recent years.
More and more customers are choosing Fintech offers, and banks are losing customers. It’s because such banks believe they already have well-composed products, so why would they need to change anything?
The same thing has happened with fast loans and personal finance management tools. Almost all online banking services have personal finance management tools, but have you found them or even tried to use them? Probably not since you didn’t even know they existed, and, even if you tried to use them, you would probably stop because of their complexity. Then there is the Mint success story about how a simply perfect customer experience helped build a personal finance management tool. Mint does only what's needed in a simple, beautiful and pleasant way.
All we need is to open the App Store to find out how digital customers compare traditional banks with digital-only ones.
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In recent years, we’ve seen a revolutionary shift in the activity of banking users. Ninety-one percent of users prefer mobile banking over going to a branch, according to Citi Mobile Banking Study. Capgemini research shows that 68% of consumers say they are currently using a checking or savings account from a challenger bank or are likely to in the next three years. The three main reasons to switch to Fintech services are lower costs (70% of respondents), ease of use (68%) and faster service (54%).
All of the aforementioned statistics show that Fintech is disrupting traditional banking. If we compare the Monthly Users Activity (MUA) rate in top banking and Fintech apps, we will see drastic changes between 2016 and 2019. According to App Annie, it took only three years to put Fintech on the same level as multi-billion dollar banks.
What can banks and the finance industry do?
For some customers, banks can be difficult, but, without them, life would be brutal. Banks are not going to go bankrupt or disappear, but almost everyone agrees that they need to embrace change. The majority of established banks already have platforms to deliver new services—the challenge is in the implementation.
Shifting from product-centric thinking into a more customer-centric approach is established as the main priority by 79% of respondents from a survey by Finextra & Virtusa of over 100 banking executives throughout North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
Digital customer experience improvement challenges traditional banking operating models and culture. It requires a customer-centered approach to deliver financial services that customers would welcome.
Today’s digital customers have higher expectations than ever. To be successful, financial companies need to be more innovative to attract and retain customers through highly relevant and personalized experiences across multiple channels. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate Design thinking, not only in the processes but also in the culture of the institution.
Customers now have the freedom to switch banks more quickly than ever, and this only speeds up with open banking initiatives. It is the job of the banks themselves to unlock added services and ultimately put the customers firmly at the center of what they do. Having great online services targeted toward the user is a positive step toward achieving this goal.
We see that more and more banks are collaborating with Fintech companies, integrating them into their own ecosystems. This is a great approach to stimulate innovation.
To reach customers’ expectations successfully, advanced banks are looking outside of the traditional banking industry. They collaborate with Fintech startup owners, UX experts, customer experience professionals and researchers who have an understanding of customers’ needs and expectations.
This strategy, mixed with flexible product innovation provides a formula for success in the digital banking environment and enables banks to compete with the Fintech disruptors in the future marketplace.