In Kenya change has already started: Mobile money transfer platforms like M-Pesa by Safaricom, YuCash by Yu, Orange Money by Orange and Airtel Money enable people to access money through mobile phones, something that has been particularly useful for people in rural and slum areas where banks are few and far between. More recently these platforms have increased innovation in the provision of financial services for the unbanked.
Take Hong Kong: The Octopus card is a rechargeable contactless stored value smart card used to transfer electronic payments in online or offline systems. Launched in September 1997 to collect fares for the mass transit system, is now used as well for payment at convenience stores, restaurants and supermarkets.
Take England: Zopa provides an online money exchange service, allowing people who have money to lend it to those who wish to borrow, instead of using savings accounts and loan applications at traditional banks, also known as peer-to-peer lending.
The digital revolution changed everything
With the advent of digital tools, customer behavior has changed dramatically. They don’t have to go to the branch anymore to access their money. They are in complete control of the hours and how they want to access their money. People are twice as likely to open a new account and deposit money they can do it online. It’s a dramatic behavior shift.
Social Search helps you discover relevant content from your social connections, a set of your online friends and contacts. Content from your friends and acquaintances is sometimes more relevant and meaningful to you than content from any random person. For example, when you’re looking for mortgages, they won’t be listed according to an algorithm, they will be ranked based on your social graph. This is a paradigm shift in marketing based on the known fact that we trust our network more than we trust a brand.
Mobility & Usability
You can board a plane with your mobile phone, be connected with the world, work through your mobile device but can’t you bank on your your mobile device? We’re living through our mobile devices and we are changing our behavior accordingly. If Credit Unions don’t adjust to that behavior, they will become irrelevant.
As an interesting behavior study, Brett King showed this video about the Diesel Cam.
The next wave of innovation is going to be in the mobile payment space. Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, launched a new way for merchant payments: Square. The key to mobile payments is simplicity. Think about the 1-click Amazon paradigm and the easy way to purchase music/apps through the iTunes Store. Or the VISA PayWave:
Or Starbucks Mobile Payment:
The dramatic changes are happening right now, not in the future. Contextual payments will dramatically change the way people pay for goods and services.
Apple and Google are now the biggest competitors of Credit Unions, not the big banks. Credit Unions have a great opportunity because they are more agile than banks. At the same time, they have to be as agile as Apple and Google.
The way we used to do banking is not relevant anymore. It’s not about products, channels or technology. It’s about simplicity and providing an experiential journey for customers. That’s the big shift.