What changes will we see this year for the financial sector?
It is going to be a fascinating time. We have seen huge change in financial institutions in the past few years. This transformation is definitely set to continue this year and beyond. One of the most noticeable trends is that the sector is becoming ever more focused on making the customer experience as easy and seamless as possible. This is where a lot of resources are being directed. The sector will have to go even further in innovating around this and how they deploy their staff. In a sense the world is broadening for the financial sector. They will have to develop new and perhaps unusual partnerships outside the sector to forge ahead on the technology that this customer service will require. We will see more and more cases where offerings from multiple vendors will need to be integrated in one platform, which will be a challenge for some institutions to cope with internally.
What should we know about this interface between finance and technology.
This is a dynamic field. Fintech is luring customers away from their traditional institutions. We are going to see a speedy uptake of application programming interfaces (APIs). In simple terms, this is technology that connects apps, including on your mobile, to the IT of the bank’s back office. This is not new, but we are going to see institutions and consumers embrace this much more rapidly in the near future. Banks are going to need to pair up with fintech companies to deliver this.
We will also see institutions choosing cloud-based storage over private-data centres. Mobile banking will also be on the rise and will really be the norm, as it becomes ever more convenient for customers and more safe and secure. Identifying customers through biometrics such their faces, voices and fingerprints will become more prevalent.
Should we be as excited by artificial intelligence (AI) as the media tells us to be?
AI as a technology will have a big impact in the next years. Already it is helping banks further automate their processes and I think customers will feel the benefit from that in terms of efficiency. We are seeing more and more that banks can automate decisions based data gathered and machine-learning. Chatbots are another area where we can expect rapid progress, where a computer programme can essentially chat to a customer to resolves tasks and queries. I think we’ll even see the wealth management, data analysis and fraud departments of institutions embracing this technology more.
What can we expect for blockchain technology in banking?
We have already seen quite a bit of progress in terms of blockchain being adopted in the financial sector. I’ll be very interested to see how many of the applications in development become actual working products in the months ahead. Good contenders for success in this field are probably blockchain solutions for payment and so we will have to see how that impacts the old school wire transfers and SWIFT.
There were so many different views about crypto currency last year within in our sector. We saw bitcoin soar. Some senior figures remain averse to the trend but we are seeing others setting up cryptocurrency trading desks. As that starts to happen, this obviously boosts the legitimacy of cryptocurrency and my feeling is that more banks might start to come around to the idea.