Have you hopped onto the mobile payment bandwagon yet? Mobile payments are the latest way consumers can purchase goods and services simply by paying with their mobile devices. Smartphone-based electronic wallet (e-wallet) apps allow users to set up automatic funding from credit cards and bank accounts, provide for money transfers to accounts and individuals, and support online banking tasks.
The above-mentioned sound incredible, don't they? Financial technology (fintech) enables new apps to disrupt the way traditional financial institutions have long operated. For example, if you can do all your banking from your smartphone and at an ATM, why visit bank branches anymore?
Studies reveal that millennials, those between the ages of 15 and 35, have a marked preference for digital applications and services.
Fintech companies can address those preferences with brand-new apps, whereas banks are saddled with legacy systems that may date back to the last century. It's therefore easier for the fintech companies to offer speedy, personalized apps that challenge the loyalty of bank customers.
It wouldn't even be surprising that millennials are helping mobile payments take precedence over other payment methods.
The World Retail Banking Report discloses that 62 percent of North American millennials use fintech products. About 45 percent of these folks say they will remain loyal to their current banks, compared to a solid 85 percent loyalty from people of other age groups. There, there. This is not the kind of news that bankers welcome.
The legacy systems used by banks usually provide online services through a web browser. This client-server architecture is tricky to personalize and is often inherently slow in comparison to fintech apps that run natively on mobile devices.
But before you sell all your bank stock, bear in mind that a couple of advanced technologies, blockchain systems and artificial intelligence, may provide new hope for tired, old banking systems.
Blockchain refers to a distributed ledger technology that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But blockchain is also useful in a variety of apps because it facilitates real-time data transfer, just the ticket for mobile banking transactions and inquiries.
Banks can use blockchain to develop apps providing instant payments, account openings and loyalty programs that distribute points for purchases at different merchants.
Artificial intelligence (AI), also known as machine learning, can make apps speedier and more secure. For example, AI can identify fishy transactions quickly and respond accordingly. Another innovative use of AI is the chatbot, in which customers can ask questions or make requests by conversing with robotic algorithms. Chatbots can access big data to tailor responses to individual customers. Its practically personalized service without the person. Of course, AI will also transform the job market.
While useful, these new technologies are not a panacea. Banks still have to deal with older systems, but by prioritizing the implementation of these technologies, banks might be able to withstand the onslaught of non-bank mobile apps, such as Apple Pay and Venmo.
Of course, fintech companies also are exploring new technologies, and they can proceed without backfitting legacy systems.
New banks can start fresh with blockchain-based systems, such as Vault OS. Azimo, a new money-transfer app, uses a chatbot operating on Facebook Messenger.
The battle for the hearts and minds of millennials involves a billion-dollar market that will reward nimble apps and punish ancient dinosaur systems.