In my blog, “Preparing for Fintech Distruption” (link below) I suggested two steps in preparing for the potential impact of fintech on community banks. These are two significant steps, ensuring that your Board is aware of this potential and discussing what alternative your core vendor can provide. However, there is much more that you can and should do to embrace fintech. Waiting until your bank feels the effects of disruption may be too late to effectively react.
Since fintech is technology that offers increases (perceived?) in services or capabilities, the first step is to review your existing technology. Is it up to the challenge? In many cases, while assisting banks on core vendor evaluations they will find out that they were unaware that their current banking solution has additional capabilities. Some of these capabilities extend the functionality of their mobile offering. These might include biometrics (fingerprint scanning), integrated payment options (P2P), check image capture for deposit, geo-location (to verify physical presence when using a debit card), debit card controls, etc. It is time to find out what else is available. Certainly, you need to be aware of additional capabilities even if your bank decides not to implement them at this point. Expect additional capabilities to be added frequently by your vendor. Keep up an ongoing dialogue with your vendor about new developments that are on the horizon. If your vendor can’t articulate a development road map, then you must consider how secure your future is with that vendor.
Are you taking advantage and promoting advanced payment options on your website and within your mobile app? The worst possible situation is the one that I covered in my blog “Don’t Hide Digital Payment Options Under a Bushel” (link below). In this blog, I explained how I had the need for a P2P service, but could not find the option on my bank’s website.
Has your bank considered account openings through your website and/or on mobile devices? My clients are increasingly showing interest in this service. Are you aware of all that your vendor has to offer? There are third party services available for account opening applications, however, they lack integration into origination platforms. Lack of integration is not anyone’s preference these days.
Take a good look at your website, it is your bank’s digital front door. Unless it is informative and easy to use, don’t expect a new customer to venture much further inside. Your bank may be investing in a new website this year in order to remain compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) as I mentioned in an earlier blog, “An Urgent Warning on Website Compiance!” (link below).
It is very important to consider how well your website is viewed on a mobile device. Recently, I read where, for the first time, worldwide mobile and tablet internet usage has exceeded usage from a desktop ( See “Mobile and Tablet Internet Usage Exceeds Desktop for the First Time” link below). However in the U.S., desktop traffic still accounts for 58% of the traffic. Your bank’s website might not have been designed to be viewed properly on a mobile device. Today, mobile-friendly websites are critical to your marketing and business communications plan. Your website must be compatible with mobile devices. Your web hosting service should be able to provide reports detailing the amount of traffic on your website from various devices. Accessing information via mobile devices is much more prevalent and your website design needs to accommodate this technology.
All delivery channels must have real time access to account balances. This has been a difficult and costly issue in particular for smaller community banks that are inhouse, but it is now essential that all delivery channels operate in real time.
Finally, don’t neglect your social media presence. It must be evaluated and utilized as a marketing tool and includes Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Many bankers are now connecting with prized clients and new employees through Linkedin. It was designed for networking and communication updates and it quickly and effectively pushes out content (press releases, newsletters, etc.). For community banking, Linkedin may be a more effective channel than Facebook and Twitter for your professional client base. Learn how to “like and share” content to maximize distribution and to grow your audience base. One big advantage of social media is that it is free. One big disadvantage is that you can’t always control the “unofficial” content that may go out on your organization, or the potential for negative feedback that a post generates.
Being prepared for fintech disruption is a process that will never end. Much like your bank’s business continuity or strategic plan, preparing for fintech is an ever-evolving and challenging mission that is well worth the investment.