Banks opting for advanced technologies to become customer-centric business organizations

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5 Biggest Banking Trends in 2017

With too many disruptions like Brexit, US elections and India’s demonetization in 2016, banking sector has tried saving its grace from the very beginning of 2017. Fast-changing commerce models has left nations around the world to take note and allow their banks to involve and indulge in new patterns and add ‘hospitality’ in its financial services. Biggest banking trends in 2017 include Chatbots, advanced machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain solutions and the Open API banks. With technological inclusions taking place exceedingly the banking sector anticipates more disruptions (a commotion of sorts is most likely to take place) in 2017. Leadership plans along with long-term visions need to be set for constructive banking sector (BFSI sector as a whole) goals.

Entry of Chatbots    

With established technologies making their foray into financial services, 2017 is being predicted as the year of ‘BOTS’. New voice commerce and robotic process automation are being considered as one of the biggest dominators in India, U.S, Singapore, Europe and the Middle East. Leading banks around the world are fast picking up IoT data and robo-advisors for more intricate banking experiences.

Chatbots are not yet considered cost effective, neither are they widely available now. But soon (as predicted by BFSI industry experts) it will be made appropriate for automation and reinvented customer experience. Chatbots combined with AI are bringing back personal tones in B2C dialogues.  Companies like Amazon, Apple and Google have experienced massive growth by including these two technologies for consumer adoption. Banking services performed via mobile apps are slower and less engaging than chatbot offerings as the latter brings in more private and better engaged communication environment with itself.

Banks can perform the following set of actions in a single chat with a customer:

  1. Get customer feedback.
  2. Assist onboarding.
  3. Help someone take important financial decisions.
  4. Upsell their products.
  5. Provide significant and time sensitive transaction-oriented information and alerts.
  6. Handle complaints.
  7. Listen to personal concerns.
  8. Carry out trading, buying and selling of shares.
  9. Offer customer loyalty points and related benefits (if any).

Chatbot has not yet turned into the face of banks but it can surely replace various manual and repetitive banking burdens. For bankers ‘conversational commerce’ is the most important thing to be considered. Chatbots can be utilized in providing specialized functions that include performance based on actions depending on information.

Advanced machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In an era when technologies are converging to come up with bigger and better innovations, AI remains in the heart of it all. Whether it is Natural Language Programming (NLP) or Internet of Things (IoT) or data sciences & automation or Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – AI will be the connecting dot that will make structural changes in financial processes and operatives.

Several banks have carried out KYC and onboarding processes with the help of AI. Wealth Management industry is most likely to take up robo-advisor and algorithm-driven investment approaches.

High frequency trading requires faster result generation which is impossible for human financial advisors to carry forward with. A hybrid robo-advisor brings with itself faster engagement and better one-to-one communication. Complex financial management and banking processes are smoothly carried out by bots (based on AI engineering). Hybrid robo-advisors are able to give long term financial plans and help people take life-decisions on children’s education funds, etc based on their asset quantification power, which is much higher than human advisors.

Robo advisors might well be the solution to customer related problems such as loyalty and retention. With generation Y choosing faster economic transfers and processes, efficient technological banking adaptations are on their way. According to banking industry reports, every year $1 trillion is inherited by new generations. Individual net worth is also exceeding every year. $56 trillion is the global value of individuals’-net-worth.

By the time we reach 2020, USA will reportedly have millennials and teenagers acquiring 50% of all existing assets.

A report presented by PWC in 2015 suggested that wealth transfers and asset attrition rates will rise high in the coming years.


‘Blockchain’ Solutions will soon be an integral part of Mainstream Banking

Blockchain solutions will reportedly go mainstream soon. However 2017 will probably not be the year for this technology to go live. According to a report published by Greenwich Associates, the capital markets blockchain received a generous investment roughly amounting to $1 billion.

Gartner has also stated that ‘blockchain’ has reached the “…peak of inflated expectations…” Global search volume stood at an all-time high in June 2016.  It will see banks working together and leveraging blockchain accelerators to bring out pilot programs and proof of concepts.

Financial institutions that are technologically bent will come up with customer-focused financial processes in 2017. A major opening of opportunities will soon take place where technology and finance vendors will fast-track blockchain programs.

Blockchain will soon be an integral part of mainstream banking.

Open API Bank

The mobile app marketplace has been revolutionized all over again. BFSI (Banking Financial Services and Insurance) industry is gaining momentum, added vigour and agility with each passing day. Financial apps are being made day in and day out. Numerous organizations are entering the app marketplace. This makes it suitable for Open API banks to come into clear picture.

The very popular Open API programs are important places for latest fintech banking processes and business models to be introduced.

‘Unified Solutions’ seems to be the light of the day for everyone (working within BFSI industries). Open and digital banking empowers everyone. Fintech expert Ron Shevlin has come up with a term – ‘Platformification’ which according to him is all about supporting multi-channel, open and unified integration. The synergy between BFSI partners and channels accentuate process deliveries, service qualities and nature of transactions.

A rough industry estimate suggests major growth in API platforms. Broader capabilities in loyalty, financial management, marketing, customer communication management, analytics and payments are foreseen in the upcoming months. Major banks will soon include more digital banking API platforms in their processes.

2017 will be a year of hard core competition between banks. With chatbots the overall banking dynamics is all set to change. A commotion of accelerated banking and disruptive digital transformations will brighten up 2017, bringing it out from the mundane BFSI processes. These technological financial inclusions will reduce costs, drastically change levels of service and automate traditional banking processes. Dynamics of market leaders will also change due to the changing demands for better enabled financial services (demands brought about by rich teenage population, millennials and young wealth heirs).

Senrysa Technologies Private Limited has come up with Aadhaar enabled payment apps and provides financial solutions to millions in India’s RRB sector. There are numerous digital payment processes being planned and in our pipeline for future launch. The organization has been in line with the latest commerce models being included across the globe.

Agency Banking and its immense financial possibilities in the emerging markets

With massive growth, reach and extent of the financial services taking place in the emerging markets, traditional banks are posed with serious challenges. With numerous semi-urban and rural regions facing a perennial problem of no banking set-up or infrastructure, there has been a rise in third parties such as agencies to encroach these markets to promote and spread the wings of financial services and products. Banks tend to depend on agents in order to define financial inclusions and opportunities. In the last decade we have witnessed the massive growth of agency banking. Developing nations in Asia and Africa have greatly benefited from the agency banking model. With the new dawn of cashless transactions and e-wallets setting in, banking agents are fast becoming initiators in increasing electronic banking habits and enabling people to increase their habit of using electronic money.

What do we understand by Agency Banking?

An agent is an individual, an organization or a group of individuals having easy access to the local community. These volunteers take advantage of their local knowledge, reach and expertise to gain praiseworthy client bases for banks.

Agents become important financial advisers to their clients. They take forward banking services and heighten the business reach in numerous regions.
Advantages of Agency Banking

In the current line of action, banking agents take care of signing up new clients, extending sales and support services on behalf of the banks. This quickens banks’ reach.

However, as technological advancements take place, the current role of agencies will go through dynamic changes and variations. Banks would be able to offer numerous services such as deposits, loans and mortgages to its wide client bases without having to invest on bank branch set-ups.

Huge infrastructure and set up costs would be curtailed with technological inclusions in agency banking. Investing on agents will be a huge leap of faith. Emerging markets will give rise to more entrepreneurs as agents will receive better training, education and support. Clients will enjoy a more personal communication with certified financial services providers. Individuals will be able up-sell products and services in the local markets. Communities will benefit greatly from highly skilled agents providing new-age financial products.

This will improve the overall economy of a region thus ushering complete growth and improvement of a nation in the long run.

With increased extent of agencies in the financial market, banks will have increased market share that will form a brighter local economy. As we all are aware of the fact that without self-sustained local economies bigger economies do not work efficiently. With advanced economic growth we will have an open market for emerging trends.

Problems Faced

There have been several impediments in agency banking’s path. One of the most common problem is its non-integrated status as a banking platform. This creates a massive problem for banks who have to invest on multiple local representatives to engage in providing services to their customers. Interoperability is a growing need for smooth running and improvement of economies.

Banks must provide all necessary support and training to its agents in order to have substantial growth. Investment from banks’ end must not be taken lightly, nor should the power of agency banking. Proper assistance provided to agents will ultimately help bring in business for banks.

The process of money distribution must be improved as it will help agents work more efficiently. There are mobile apps being developed by banks to improve distribution procedures. Currently agents have to rely on core banking. Without technological innovations banks are falling short of introducing new products and catering to the growing market needs.

Agents suffer from low-liquidity. Banks must be able to improve liquidity issues in order to serve customers during national holidays and religious celebrations. Banks must support cash inputs to help agents have a balanced operation even during ‘cash-out’ scenarios.
Probable Solutions

An inter-operability model must exist for agents. This will be able to sophisticate the entire process of agent performance, calculation of agent collections, overall monitoring of functionality, agent commissions and distribution of financial services and products. Inter-operability among agents will also make way for an easy solution market wave.

With ever-changing trends (and shifts) taking place in the financial markets, traditional banks need to come up with faster and better technological innovations to introduce and expand new products with the help of agents.

Technology can give rise to better client support

Localities having zero access to main roads and communications need to have technological support. This will help agencies to grow their networks. Banks (will have numerous e-branches for better distribution and configuration of its services and products) will benefit greatly along with the benefits of agencies.

With proper technological support and integrations, agency banking will be more than a mere cash deposit, withdrawal and client listing system. Accuracy in technological support systems will usher a new era for agency banking as agents will have better growth with the help of specialized e-commerce oriented products and services.

Benefits of agency banking will ultimately benefit banks as the latter will win significant market shares.

Immense possibilities of Agency Banking in the Future

Emerging markets are untapped territories of immense financial possibilities. Agency banking has potential bright future as various communities will be empowered with a wide variety of financial services.

According to recent industry reports, there are ten times more registered agents spread across numerous areas than bank branches in some of the world’s topmost mobile money markets. This gives us a clear picture as to what the complete potential of the advantages of agency banking can lead us to. Banks need to invest on technological innovations in order attain greater heights in the fast-changing market needs.

Agencies will become ‘proxy banks’ in the near future. Technological innovations are already in place and with time there will be a time when agents will be the direct selling point for specialized businesses and products. Local development is important for overall stimulated economic growth.

People living in geographically challenged regions will have no need to travel distances in order to get to bank or perform any kind of crucial banking.

Banks will definitely have heightened importance and a scaled business presence with the help of properly structured agency banking. People will enjoy banking in the comforts of their homes, without having to go to a bank. Agency banking will also heighten the use of electronic money.