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Forging new frontiers: advanced technologies will revolutionise banking

Retail, corporate and private banks were already under pressure to deploy new technologies and reshape their company cultures in order to compete with big tech firms and payment players. Now, as digital banking surges due to the coronavirus pandemic, this task is more pressing than ever.

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  • 66% of banking executives say new technologies will continue to drive the global banking sphere for the next five years while regulatory concerns around these technologies remain top of mind for banking executives (42%).
  • 77% of bankers believe that unlocking value from AI will be the differentiator between winning and losing banks.
  • With 45% of respondents set on transforming their existing business models into digital ecosystems, banks will continue to adapt their internal structures to digital technologies in order to enhance customer experience, product offerings and new revenue streams.

The coronavirus crisis has focused the attention of banks firmly on new challenges. Bank branch traffic was already falling before the pandemic, and this trend will only intensify with society in lockdown: customers are unable to leave their homes while employees are working remotely or frequently absent due to illness. “Banks have planned for years for disaster recovery if their technology failed but have never planned for disaster recovery if their buildings closed,” says Chris Skinner, a leading influencer and champion of digitalisation in finance. “This is the big lesson of the crisis.”

The lockdown will most likely accelerate the digitisation of banking,1 a sector which already faces intense competition from payment players, big technology and e-commerce firms. According to the latest global banking survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (now in its seventh year and for the first time expanded to include respondents from commercial and private banks), 45% of respondents say their strategic response to this challenge is to build a “true digital ecosystem”. This aim to integrate self-built digital services and third-party offerings was cited more than any other response and has increased from 41% of respondents in 2019.

This article explores three central elements of banking digitisation: where banks currently are in their digital journey; what they are doing, not only to overcome challenges but also to increase user engagement through different technologies and channels; and how they are seizing opportunities through reorganisation into more agile structures.

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