This article was written by SWIFT and features Sam Maule, Chief Inspirational Officer
The Digital Customer
“Who is the future digital customer?”
The question has several possible answers. For some bankers, the future digital customer may be at home chatting on social media or playing a computer game. “Generation Z will be coming into the workforce over the next few years. They are going to have radically different expectations and behaviours that will redefine the baseline for the industry,” says Brett King, founder and CEO, Moven, a potentially disruptive mobile financial services provider.
They will need financial services, but how can banks attract them? King adds: “Getting them into a branch to open an account is just not going to happen. Plan for that, and you’re just going to be churning legacy customers.”
Technology reaches Generation Z just as it also potentially gives us access to communities of the as-yet unbanked around the globe. And for both groups, mobile, digital technology is likely to define the platform for delivering financial services going forward. Future digital customers, whether they’re concentrated at home or spread across the globe, will have one thing in common: mobile access to the internet. “Mobile technology enables people to access financial resources far more effectively,” says Akhtar Badshah, chief catalyst, Catalytic Innovators Group.
How do we deliver financial services to the next billion? Treat them as we would a new market, with its distinct customs, behaviours, attitudes, needs. Be prepared to adapt our own behaviour and thinking but not necessarily to innovate. Discussing millennials, de Jong says: “Most of the
innovation has happened already. Most of the value propositions were innovated around five years ago, and only a very few have been created just in the past two years.” The wheel has already been invented. So what do we do now? Now is the time for growth. Many of the new fintech companies are still relatively small on a global scale.
Some of what we learn from millennials can be applied to the unbanked, even if the resulting services have to be adapted for lower-spec technology and/ or a more challenging operating environment. Millennials don’t carry cash. They pay online; their cellphones interact with point-of-sale systems for face-to-face transactions; their use of Airbnb and Uber suggests the evolution of effectively cashless “sharing systems”.
In some of the new markets under discussion – setting aside millennials now – there are people who really need us, and need us urgently. Sam Maule, emerging markets practice lead, Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, and chief inspiration officer at the Digital Finance Institute, says: “Today, there are sixty million refugees globally, more than at any time since World War Two. One of the key components of this crisis that gets lost, is money movement.
When you leave a war zone or a crisis, you take your immediate belongings and, if you’re lucky, your cellphone. How do you get access to funds?”
And if you’re an aid organisation, how do you deliver funds into the hands of refugees? Maule says: “This isn’t just in Europe, or Asia; this is a global phenomenon that we’re going through. We have many of the individuals and the aid networks in place; we need to work out how we can address this.”