As the digital future unfolds at an accelerating rate, the finance industry is no exception. FinTech is slowly becoming a faceless industry that relies less and less on human interaction. On that note, the concept of ‘Banking for Humanity’ is increasingly blurry.
This concept is defined as being the idea of banks making their services more ‘human’, in terms of contributions towards a more sustainable world and a thriving financial community. As such, there are five crucial cornerstones on which ‘Banking for Humanity’ can be built to become a reality: financial inclusion, financial literacy, financial wellness, access to financial services for the vulnerable and promoting sustainability.
Recent global surveys indicate that there is a lack of trust and confidence in financial services, however this is improving. To maintain this improvement, financial service providers need to offer more value in a more personalized approach. Banks and FIs need to reform their operations and processes to match the mostly successful digital transformation experienced by business and retail customers.
Human Empowerment through AI
With a surge in applying groundbreaking technologies in the FinTech sector such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), it is important to distinguish between the value provided to the financial processes and the ‘human’ element provided to customers. Ironically, it seems that the greater use of AI/ML applications can actually improve the human experience when it comes to FinTech, delivering intuitive automation of services and personalized customer care. AI has the capacity to learn, adapt and therefore respond faster and more intelligently to customer queries and data, delivering smarter insights for banks to understand their customer base and its various demographics, which in turns leads to catering to all their specific needs.
Mundane banking processes that can be automated leaves room for humans to be more concerned with offering valuable advice, support and being more empathetic in general. The optimal scenario here is that AI can be harnessed to complement human interaction and not replace it; the human touch is indispensable to customer interaction and problem solving, but can only be made better with the proper integration of artificial intelligence into the communication process.
Closing the financial inclusion gap
The concept of financial inclusion is a pillar of humanizing banking, especially since it aims to serve the underbanked generations by providing quality financial services. This also includes the youngest possible generation of new customers, the ones born after 1995; Generation Z.
Banks need to acknowledge that they need omni-channel strategies to reach Gen Z, since they hardly distinct the real world from the digital world. When compared to the predecessors, the Millennials, research shows that they relate more to authenticity and permanence, and consequently they value smart financial management more than generations before them. Accordingly, banks and FIs need to adapt their educative channels to reach them.
On the other end of the spectrum, older generations are also in need of attention and personalized care in the finance industry. User interfaces and experiences can definitely be enhanced for older customers, and here the human factor is critical to educating and supporting them throughout their digital journey. Resistance to technology is natural at older ages, and so branches could aim to provide personal consultation services and allocate time for face-to-face interactions with customers that cannot operate technological approaches to traditional banking.
Localized digital banking
Local communities have long benefitted from localized bank services through physical branches, and today the integration of digital services into those local branches opens a world of possibilities. Branches can implement video banking practices to deliver quality information in as little time as possible, potentially answering many questions that local customers may have. Applying omni-channel marketing can reduce operational costs while giving access to higher-level banking services, optimizing speed and reliability within local communities. Banks could also make use of their real estate and act as a service hub for other banks, creating a digital service center that truly harvests the power of digital banking.
Banking for Humanity might seem like a strange concept to some, since banks are actually meant for people, but the challenge is to make use of industry-changing digital applications within FIs and banks while simultaneously communicating care and personalized, humane approaches to dealing with customers of different demographics. The future will most certainly reveal the thin line between automation and human satisfaction as digital finance continues to evolve.
Banking for Humanity, digital banks, e-finance, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Machine Learning, ML, local banks, cloud computing