Chris Skinner is a widely read independent commentator on financial markets and fintech through his blog, theFinanser.com, and as the author of the bestselling books “Digital Bank,” “ValueWeb” and its new sequel “Digital Human.” He is also Chair of the European networking forum The Financial Services Club, Chair of Nordic Finance Innovation, as well as a Non-Executive Director of the fintech consultancy firm 11:FS. He was a keynote speaker at THINK 18.
An interesting point was raised by bank staff in a recent conversation about Open Banking. They said that they had been mapping financial moments — getting married, buying a house, having a baby, crashing your car, etc. — and had started to reimagine the whole customer experience in those moments using APIs.
A good example was the car crash. Today, you’d call your insurer (if you could remember who they were and what their number was), maybe the police (if your phone had enough juice) and probably your nearest and dearest. But what if the car could tell the network what had happened? What if it could tell the tow truck to come, inform the insurer automatically, order you a taxi (or ambulance if needed) and arrange for a replacement vehicle to be delivered to your home that evening?
It’s recognizing that cars have a digital presence on the internet and can self-diagnose. Leveraging that information through an API, carmakers could simply build in all these other features. In fact, your car will not only self-drive soon, but will arrange its own sick days to get parts sorted out and tell insurers what’s going on directly.
I loved the sound of all this and the fact that this bank — a Nordic one — had started to think outside the box thanks to PSD2 and Open APIs.
Then I came back to my reality.
Another discussion followed about small-business needs, and I explained that I’m a small business. What has my bank done for me lately? Not a great deal, to be honest. They never give me advice, call me proactively or tell me how I can run my business smarter with Xero or something like it.
In fact, I don’t think my bank cares whether I’m with them or not, providing I pay my fees. Do I care? Not really, as they’re all the same — I should know as I’ve banked with all of them — but it does strike me as beyond belief the lack of digital imagination these guys have.
For example, I bring up my banking app three or four times a day. The bank probably thinks I love them as I bring up their app so often. Well, I don’t love them at all. I’m just going into the app regularly because, as a small business, I want to see if my customers have paid yet.
Then it struck me. Why is there no alert setting in the app to send me a push notification as soon as any money is added to my account? In fact, financial institutions focusing on highlighting fraudulent transactions, or debits and credits for the last week, just shows that their focus was to take old branch banking into an app, rather than thinking what they could do with the app.
Some banks are looking at digital apps, APIs and analytics and starting ground up to reimagine customer journeys.
It’s a reason why I really like new financial institutions like Metro Bank, who are at least trying to do things better. Case in point: You can’t find your card — is it lost or stolen? Most likely, in this case, you think it’s lost. Most financial institutions then expect you to call them and tell them and they reissue you with a new card. With Metro, you just bring up their app and set the card to “off.” This means it can’t be used until you and your card and set it back to “on” again, or request a new card. This is better for the customer — no writing off a card that’s under the sofa — and for Metro — it saves them money.
In summary, some financial institutions are looking at digital apps, APIs, and analytics and starting ground up to reimagine customer journeys. It’s just a shame the big banks appear to not be.