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Experience Design in a Neobanking Future

Tom Moran

Associate Director, Experience Design, EPAM
Blog
  • Financial Services

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the financial services sector, from the launch of boutique banks and virtual credit cards to large-scale financial aggregator platforms and AI-powered chatbots. The new generation of neobanks have thrown out the rulebook of old banking paradigms and replaced it with open-banking innovations, intuitive app experiences and revolutionary new ways to manage money.  

Whether you’re a fintech challenger or an established global bank, the landscape for finance has undeniably transformed – and with it, so have customer expectations. From developing new fintech brands to helping transform existing global banking platforms, EPAM’s been at the center of one of the most exciting periods of change this industry has known. If that experience has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest challenges and changes are still to come.

Let’s explore some of the biggest shifts within customer experience, and ultimately, how the future of banking won’t be built on a single idea but rather combine several features to deliver a ubiquitous experience that puts the customer at the heart of their financial world. 

Future forecasting will transform spending habits

One of the key features of the first generation of neobanks is the smart crunching of spending data to visualize macro trends. By providing customers with tools that deliver macro insights—such as highlighting spend burndown or grouping transactions by category—banks have made a huge impact on customers’ financial health by simply allowing them to see where their money is going. 

However, it’s no longer enough to simply provide clarity on spending habits. To support customers in a meaningful way, the next generation of banks need to not only give a snapshot of where the money has gone but also show where the money may go in the future. Using predictive algorithms to plot upcoming spending across days, months and even years demystifies the future for customers, enabling them to take greater control of their financial health. Organically building an experience around this not only allows the customer to self-serve and manage their money, but it also gives banks the opportunity to proactively share financial advice – ultimately helping customers avoid a transaction that may put them in the red or a progressive spending trend that will move them into debt.

Platform-first launches a more ubiquitous future

Over the next two to three years, we will see a shift towards ubiquitous banking – a shift that will enable financial services to become even more present in our lives at moments when we truly need them. Customers will move away from interacting with their banks through traditional browser and app screens and instead focus on multiple digital touchpoints and small interactions taking place over hours or days. This is a logical evolution of the banking experience where customers have moved from branch, to website, to app and, now, to a reimagined banking platform. This platform of services opens up engagement across multiple channels and gives customers the flexibility to choose how they engage with their bank. For some, this could be done exclusively via WhatsApp while others may use a third-party aggregator to manage multiple accounts and credit cards in one place. The variety of options available to customers will make the banking experience more inclusive and accessible.

More and more, we see tools, technologies and interfaces that put the customer at the center of their personal financial world. A customer’s banking relationship shouldn’t be accessible solely through logging into an app several times a week to check their money – it should be brought to them. For example, micro-reports with daily updates on customers’ current financial health can be delivered directly to their preferred digital touchpoint at a time that suits them, such as receiving in-app visual reports on the commute home or Alexa flash briefings delivered while making dinner.

We are particularly excited for the intersection of personal assistive technology and open banking APIs. In the not-too-distant future, a customer may no longer have the need to engage with a bank directly, but instead have their own personal assistive AIs to engage the bank on their behalf – bringing them updates as and when they need it. We will see a new generation of AI-powered bot-to-bot experiences that create invisible—but incredibly powerful interactions, forcing banks to fundamentally reconsider how they engage with customers in the future. 

Increased competition forces a digital brand revolution

Building an effective and engaging experience relies not only on advanced features and smart uses of data, but also on creating user interfaces (UI) that are clean, modern and built on intuitive, user-tested designs. A key advantage in launching a neobank is the opportunity to build a brand from the ground-up—without the constraints of legacy architecture—ensuring the UI is digitally-friendly and designed with ubiquity in mind in order to provide a consistent experience regardless of touchpoint.

Neobanking brands have created fierce competition to provide the best “new features” to help customers manage their money. We’ve seen huge areas for innovation in next-generation search and areas where neobanks can add more value by exploring the search opportunities within each individual transaction. For example, adding geo-tagging to see exactly where a transaction occurred can provide a deeper dive on merchant information.

Neobanks may have had the advantage of agility and digital-first brands, but traditional banks still hold a key advantage. By expanding and exploring their portfolio of products, they can enhance the customer experience in new ways. Mortgages, pensions and insurance can all be layered into the customer experience making every transaction an opportunity to up- or cross-sell a product from the banking suite of services. Connecting the ecosystem of banking capabilities and layering them into the customer experience will become a huge advantage for traditional banks, and one that may tip the scale irrevocably in their favor.

Human-first moments become a bank’s secret weapon

The last few years may have seen an explosion of start-ups and ideas, but the biggest changes to the industry are still to come. Although feature exploration, beautiful UI and ubiquitous banking are all incredibly important features, one of the most crucial aspects of building the digital banking experience of the future will be in finding the perfect balance between automation and human interaction.

Despite what smart predictive algorithms and chatbots may become, there will always be a role for customer service teams. Chatbots have proven their value in handling some of the more common day-to-day problems; however talking to a human is often not only easier for the customer but creates powerful touchpoints that can help build a lasting and trusting relationship between a business and its customer.

Creating moments of human connection also extends beyond business-to-consumer. There are huge opportunities to create real value by exploring the social aspects of banking between customers, whether that’s bill-splitting with friends or enabling a parent to help their child manage their money for the first time. Human connections are a fundamental layer to the future of digital banking and can be a far more powerful tool than any AI-powered service or interface.

In conclusion, the future of banking will require neobanks and traditional banks to build a ubiquitous experience powered by hyper-personalized assistive intelligence that puts the user at the heart of their financial world. Those that succeed will intuitively know how to serve their customers at every step of the journey – and most importantly find the perfect balance between automation and fundamentally human moments.

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