Innovative technologies have been gradually transforming the way bankers have been conducting business over the past many years.
However, it took the Covid-19 pandemic for the financial sector to catapult their activities into the digital arena at a rapid pace.
As per the Digital Transformation Index 2020 carried out by Dell, from a survey of 4,000 global business leaders, reportedly eight out of 10 organisations fast tracked their digital transformation programmes during last year.
The East African Community has been at the forefront of digital services since 2007. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya alongside East African Community countries have become front runners in encouraging use of mobile money platforms to address health and economic dimensions.
Fintech and e-commerce giants who are using technology to augment, enhance and mechanise financial services and procedures are disrupting the banking industry.
Over the past few years, all banks across the globe have been working towards becoming digital ready. Although it seems that the digital transformation changes are slow in the banking sector, this is perhaps with respectable reason. When it comes to customer relations is it convenient to have the vision of fully digital banking?
What is going on in the world today that makes it difficult to get on the ball? From large commercial companies all the way to small businesses, many are deliberately going digital.
Just like other organisations, which need to meet customers where they are, many customers have embraced digital and mobile banking. The argument is that it is the responsibility of banks to provide the services required by users and if clients are shifting towards the digital space it becomes the responsibility of the bank to fulfil that need.
Banks need to work hard at ensuring that they focus on customer experience. Gone are the days when individuals would for instance need to present hard copies of the fixed deposit receipts for withdrawals and renewals of deposits.
At present, adoption and implementation of innovation in the organisation's strategy is a vital necessity to create and enhance value. Technology is not an option but an essential business strategy.
Banks are progressively working towards achieving an ecosystem of facilities to meet the requirements of their clients and stakeholders with an intention to increase the prospects of added revenue streams whilst ensuring the clientele does not shift to other up-and-coming fintech companies.
In order to maintain their customer base, financial institutions are consistently tweaking the customer interface taking into consideration cognitive psychology, usability accessibility and behavioural economics.
While banks are progressing with digitising in order to capture data on existing clientele and enhance operational abilities in a bid to improve customer engagement and have a degree of personalisation, there is a consistent need to improve data protection and cyber security.
Digitisation is quite cost intensive and requires a setup with consistent maintenance. The visible spends become invisible.
To what extent should the technological interface take over the banking experience? In the race to digitise, what will happen to one on one human contact and legacy systems when it comes to customer experience in banking?
Banks are now heavily investing and using research technologies and new approaches which are agile for digital transformation thereby forming greater user based experiences to increase engagement.
Certain types of activities including checking bank balances, transferring money and making electronic deposits may be convenient, however handling something more complicated such as high value transactions and managing possible fraud still require one-on-one contact, thereby making branches and customer relation officers the preferred channel of operation. The transformation will be reinforced by developments in artificial intelligence and technological advancements.
There is a constant need to transform the basic banking processes but these changes should not be at the cost of the consumer.
Ritesh Barot is a business and financial analyst, humanitarian, conservationist, occasional artist, recipient of OGW honor. [email protected]