I go back in banking to the days of green screens and giving customers access to systems that we in the bank would use to access information. Things like Bishopsgate, a rec tool called APC, a DOS based digital banking experience driven by a modem which wasn’t year 2000 compliant (then we found a user in 2002 that had been quite happily using it for two years after Y2K).
Come on a few years and I worked extensively with a very ethical bank to deliver their digital experience, adding as much data as possible to automate delivery from the bank to the customer. If the data was inside the bank’s walls, we wanted to get it onto a digital channel so we could do it automatically. Funny when I stand back from all the talk of digital and UX and delivery, the key word is automate. Getting people data from various sources and delivering it so they can decide what to do with it is something I’ve been doing from an operational, commercial and strategic standpoint at various times over the last twenty years.
It brings me to now – a very different climate. The early digital channels such as Barclays Business Master, Natwest Bankline, The Girobank service and Hexagon from HSBC all relied on data from within their own parent organisations. They could only deliver what was within their own possession. The landscape now is markedly different. The banks’ consumers wants not only what their bank has – that is wholly historical – they want to see enrichment of data and the ability to aggregate data from multiple sources.
A challenge not of the Banks’ own making
This means banks have a challenge which is not of their own making. Payment schemes have the same capability to capture data and present it to the consumer as ten years ago. They can capture the data: the FPID message in a faster payment has lots of fields, SWIFT has many and CHAPS has others. However, the digital channels provided by the bank can only show concatenated versions. This is a considerable challenge. Other sources of data such as cards and remittance advices show extra data, but we can’t get it all in a banking app.
This comes to the point: presenting multiple sources of data to a user is hard. We need to up our data game and give more to the user (if they want it). For many years, big businesses have had solutions. Giant companies banked with us and if they wanted the solution, we built it. Automated files of transaction fates, preauthorisation schedules, category codes on cards, VAT reclaim on Pcard, modulus checking on inbound payment files. What we are seeing now is enterprise level technology being offered to the SME and retail customer. It leads to an interesting quandary and one which I believe a bank will solve.
What we are seeing now is enterprise level technology being offered to the SME and retail customer
Banking’s Biggest Gap
All the data above is historical: it is has happened or it has been processed. Users are presented so much information on their previous financial behaviour and so little on their future behaviour. This is banking’s biggest gap.
I can see when I last went to Marks and Spencer’s and how much I spent in July, but I want to know when I can next go to Marks and Spencer’s, when I can afford to make a purchase or when my business will have a cash problem. I want to know what is going to happen tomorrow and beyond. I want to see when invoices and regular payments are due in the same format as my historical bank account. I want to use my banking experience to plan the rest of my business and personal life.
…in other words, I want my banking app to tell me what is going to happen, not what already has.