The next big thing in banking

The next big thing in banking

For some time now, ‘experience’ has been the buzz word that has been increasingly gaining prominence in most business sectors and the banking sector is no exception. Today, around the world, we see thought leaders saying - it is not the goods that are being marketed any more, it is personalised experiences.

From being buildings where you could deposit and borrow cash, banks have come a long way in terms of the services and products they offer.

Today, banks offer customers access to most of their products and features seamlessly through multiple channels (mobile, web, branches, agents, and
so on).

However, mobile devices have gained prominence over other channels due to the convenience they offer. And in the near future, we can see extensive use of augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence to enhance banking experiences. The reason for this is evolution is quite simple. As economies have evolved and people’s tastes have gotten more refined, run of the mill offerings have become fungible.

Differentiators are expected at every step of the consumer experience journey because an experience is not a
nebulous idea; it is as real an offering as any other (goods, services, or commodity). And, as services got commoditised like goods before them, experiences have emerged as the next step in what Joseph and James in their article states as the progression of economic value.

Enhancing experience

To increase the economic value of their offerings, banks are trying their best to engineer unique and enthralling user experiences from the ground up instead of simply wrapping an experience layer over their traditional offerings. This is because, experiences are deeply personal and hence two people seldom have the same experiences. This implies that substantial research and shift in mind set is necessary to deliver engaging user experiences. A common trend we have been seeing for some time now is how the competition has evolved.

Things that we never thought would compete with each other have. For example, the mobile phone has taken over the market of music players, digital assistants, cameras, navigation devices, voice recorders, bar code readers, step counters, timers, alarm clocks, and more. This means that there are unique ways in which apps can be designed that leverage different functionalities to deliver a unique user experience.

So when every bank has an app for their customers to access products and services, how can one app be better than the other? The answer is simple – design and develop the customer touch point aka the app interface to be as
smart as possible.

This is where Smart User Interface (UI) comes into play. A smart UI is combination of user interfaces, business logics, widgets, and event handlers that focus on making the most commonly used features as accessible as possible to the user. And the reason why this feature in an app makes it a winner is - An app comes with plenty of functionalities built into it. However, there would be very few or no users that uses every single one of them.

Mirroring usage patterns

Today, with the help of machine learning models and artificial intelligence, it is possible to automatically customise user interfaces to mirror a user’s usage patterns. For example, if a customer uses the functionalities fund transfer, view account balance, and pay utility bills, over a period of time, the app screen would display these features as the primary functionalities of the app. Every other feature would be accessible by tapping a ‘More Options’ button or something on those lines. This feature makes the experience of using
the app as personalised and convenient as possible to a user.

However, it must be taken into consideration that that layouts don’t go haywire whenever there is an update / upgrade in the app. Customisation algorithms need to be designed in a way that maintenance would remain hassle free. 

Going forward, it is quite clear that smart UIs would become a must have feature than a nice to
have feature because in a world where the lives of people are played out through the screen of a mobile device, delivering personalised user engagement experiences would definitely need smarter interfaces. In the meanwhile, let us wait and watch to see how different banks/businesses go about achieving this.

(The writer is VP and Head, Product Engineering, i-exceed)