Accelerating Innovation: Should the Banking Industry Follow Insurers’ Lead to Drive Change?

I’ve recently returned from Sibos, where innovation flowed through every session, stand and panel. This was Fintech in its truest form: meaningful, usable, practical technologies which will generate a positive impact on the experiences financial services firms deliver to their clients. There was talk of artificial intelligence, of chatbots, of blockchain and bitcoin, but it wasn’t in a ‘Tomorrow’s World’ sense. It is today’s world, developing digital technologies to offer an improved physical reality.

The banking industry has, perhaps traditionally, been slower than its counterpart the insurance industry when it comes to innovation – I recall a few years back a frustrated IT manager in a retail bank commenting to me ‘the last game-changing innovation in the banking industry was the introduction of the ATM in 1983’, (although with the recent launch of some really superb examples of mobile apps from retail banks that may now be starting to change). Conversely, perhaps driven by greater levels of competition through a willingness for customers to switch providers, the insurance industry has been ahead of the curve. It’s been more agile, taking advantage of digitalisation to deliver a more engaging, accurate customer experience. Insurance firms are taking the lead when it comes to information-sharing, providing each other with data on fraudsters in an open, collaborative approach, and they are finding new ways to excite, educate and engage with their customers and prospects.

Insurance apps, for example, not only allow customers to check their policies and make payments, but to measure behaviours which can ultimately reduce their policy costs: driving apps to monitor driving performance stats, for example, and home insurance apps to create an inventory of personal belongings. Interactive personalised video is being used to generate interest, to clarify policies and explain changes. Location intelligence software is used by insurers to flag high-risk areas and increase the accuracy and speed of underwriting decisions.

Now, innovation is accelerating across the banking industry too, and huge change is taking place. And it must: fraud is endemic, regulations complex, and consumer distrust rife. Research 1 shows that fewer than one in three consumers trust their bank, and even fewer trust their insurance firm. The insurance industry has taken steps to address this with technological innovation, and the banking industry is now following suit, as Sibos demonstrated. It’s reached an inflection point, and its evolution requires transformation. Consumers are driving this change.

We’re demanding transparency: we want to know how banks are protecting us, securing our data and transactions and meeting regulatory requirements. We want to know how they’re minimising the risk of fraud, so that we, the ‘good guys’, aren’t being penalised for the sake of the ‘bad guys’. We’re demanding convenience and accuracy, with personalised services delivered to us how we choose, when we choose, whether text alerts, secure digital messages, printed mail or phone calls. We need our banks to know us. Data is the foundation for innovation: the more banks analyse data to identify, locate and communicate with us, the better the service experience we’ll receive. Know Your Customer isn’t just a regulation – it must be the bedrock of the banking industry, a mantra for financial services firms. Innovation will help the banking industry achieve this, and craft a service experience around it. And maybe then the insurance industry will follow the banks’ lead.

Written by Tim Barber, VP Software Solutions EMEA, Pitney Bowes

Author: Dylan Jones

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