New figures from consumer group Which? reveal that more than 1,000 high street bank branches have closed over the past two years but while 56% of adults used online banking last year there were still 20 million adults that did not – often those who did not use the internet or had poor broadband.
The latest research from Which? comes as no surprise. All other aspects of modern life – from taxis to ordering food and shopping – are now characterised by words like ‘rapid’, ‘online’ and ‘on demand’. It is these kinds of experiences that banks are competing with, and until now it looks like traditional banks have been failing to offer the experience or the interactions their customers are looking for. This is even more significant when you compare their legacy systems to the raft of challenger banks that are growing in confidence with every announcement of further closures. With each press release, challengers like Atom Bank and Monzo gain further validation that they are in the right space.
That said, the people who have limited or no access to the internet must not be forgotten about in today’s fast paced digital world. The UK government must ensure it is doing all it can to boost connectivity such as 4G networks across the UK to help all consumers in the inevitable move from traditional to digital banking.
Banks looking to win this digital banking race will need to make sure they invest in new technology now to ensure customers still have access to the same services that they would have in a branch, such as opening an account or making a large transaction. They also need to make sure security is at the top of the priority list, while also ensuring this doesn’t negatively impact user experience. For many, the answer (or at least part of it) lies in biometrics. Biometrics will allow customers to verify large transactions by taking a selfie or change their address by speaking into the microphone – a seamless yet secure customer experience.
We are seeing movement in this direction not only from new Fintech challengers but also from established tech giants, like Amazon. As bank branches continue to close, it’s vital that new technology like this is fully embraced by legacy banking brands.