Most of the time, major moments of change only become obvious in retrospect. But the COVID-19 pandemic has been a watershed moment for banking visible in real-time. Each new day in 2022 takes us further into this new era of banking.
Today’s banks are more intentional that reactive, more likely to challenge conventions than respect them, and more open to change than ever. They are more digitally savvy than many thought possible. And the focus of their digital innovation is shifting from merely becoming the best possible digital version of themselves to invention and innovation.
The signs of this are all around the industry. In our Banking Top 10 Trends for 2022 report, we highlight the 10 that we think will be most influential in shaping the exciting new future of banking.
Here’s a quick summary of each.
1. Everyone wants to be a super-app
The list of true super-apps right now is short—but impressive. As these multi-service platforms mature, banks are increasingly aware that their offerings are just four or five APIs away from being integrated into another digital platform.
This presents banks with a critical decision they must make this year: try to become a super-app, collaborate with one, or keep away from the fray?
2. Green gets real
The world, including banking regulators, is finally getting serious about the environment. This is going to put banks under urgent pressure in 2022 to obtain data and tools to closely monitor progress on their and their customers’ environmental goals. Banks—some enthusiastic, others reluctantly—are being urged to become vital guardians of our planet. There will be major costs associated with this new role, but the returns will include boosts to customer support, shareholder endorsement, and employee motivation.
3. Innovation makes a comeback
The 2008 financial crisis caused not only an economic recession but also a recession in innovation. Banks focused on getting the basics right. But in a post-pandemic world, innovation is once again accelerating. Digital has become a necessity but can no longer drive revenue growth on its own. In response, banks are rediscovering their creative mojo in 2022 and exploring where in their operations and offerings innovation matters most.
4. Fees … a magical mystery tour
Customers have gone on quite a ride over the years when it comes to fees. In the old days, these fees were all transparent. Then the industry shifted to an expansive set of invisible fees for things like overdrafts, late payments and returned checks. Now banks are competing for customers against a growing cadre of fintechs and digital-only challengers loudly offering services that are magically free—at least from the customer’s perspective. Competition and digital transparency are pushing banks to be more purpose-driven and put customers first. It won’t be easy, but they have little choice.
5. The digital brain gets a caring heart
The digital revolution has made many banks functionally correct but emotionally devoid. Add branch closures due to COVID-19 (not to mention its financial effect on consumers and businesses) and it’s easy to understand how customer relationships are becoming strained and even fractured. But while technology has contributed to the breach, it can also be the solution by helping to predict a customer’s intent and needs. This can help banks deliver more personalized, empathetic service and advice to strengthen lasting, trusted relationships.
6. Digital currencies head for college
Digital currencies, to date, have been volatile and shown little respect for tradition. Some have been swayed by a tweet. In other words, they are teenagers. But 2022 will be the year they go to college. The titans of finance have accepted they are here to say, while central banks are getting smarter about the potential of central bank digital currencies. Regulation will also come into sharper focus this year. Digital currencies are leaving the hype phase. Their potential contribution to the global banking system will come into view this year.
7. Smart operations put zero in their sights
We’re approaching a paradigm shift as artificial intelligence and machine learning start to surpass human capabilities in specific tasks. Applying these technologies in 2022 to middle- and back-office operations will allow banks to reimagine their businesses for a world where revenue doesn’t always track with headcount.
8. Payments: anywhere, anytime … and now anyhow
Customers now take it for granted that they can pay (and get paid) anywhere and at any time. We’re now on the verge of also enabling them to pay in whatever way they choose, thanks to open payment networks. Partly driven by regulators and partly by innovators, this change will create strong pressure for banks to reimagine their payments offerings.
9. Banks get on the road again
Like many consumers weary of lockdown, banks in 2022 will once again feel wanderlust and go looking for growth abroad as well as at home. They are unlikely to pursue traditional M&A deals, however. This will look different in each market, but we expect the most interesting place in the banking world to be Asia.
10. The war for talent intensifies
Digital shot to the top of every CEO’s to-do list during the pandemic, which disrupted the supply chain for banks’ most critical asset: talent. The unmet demand for technical experts is a serious concern, but it’s only a small proportion of the talent that banks urgently need. Leading banks are coming to realize that a radically different way of thinking and working is needed to once again become preferred employers. Those that can identify and implement the far-reaching changes that are required stand a much better chance of competing in an increasingly volatile marketplace.
A critical question at a critical moment
Banking’s basic business model—“don’t rock the boat”—has been fundamentally unchanged for centuries. Almost two years into a global pandemic, it’s crystal clear that this approach could take banks into the doldrums. We don’t know for sure what banking will look like a decade from now, but we are sure that its leaders will be doing different things than they are today. And they’ll be doing them in completely different ways.
And if we’re right, the next question is unavoidable: what needs to change?
To learn more, register to download the full report, “Banking Top 10 Trends for 2022”.
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