Banks are now focused on a seamless end-to-end digitalized experience for their customers and their primary target audience is the millennials.
Born between the late ’70s and mid-’90s (according to Nielsen’s approach), tech-savvy millennials comprise approximately 26% of the world’s population and are steadily growing in importance and financial strength.
As software developers, we communicate with our business partners, gather market insights and are ready to share our expertise. In this text, we decided to accentuate promising growth areas in retail digital banking for younger generations and focus on mobile banking solutions and lifestyle banking in depth. Each point is backed up with reliable statistics and includes recommendations.
Before we proceed, here is some essential background for a better understanding.
Millennials and Banking: in brief
Being connected to technologies and mobile devices (for example, in 2016 over 92% of US millennials already owned a smartphone), millennials value time and carry out primary and a lot of more financial activities online. Along with checking bank account balances, recent transactions or paying bills, they are opening new bank accounts, trading, depositing and researching.
In comparison to Generation X and Baby Boomers, millennials care less about brand names. They are demanding, searching for a balanced lifestyle, appreciate smoothly working apps and value-added perks.
Millennials value convenience, connectivity, and features, which allow them to stay in control. They successfully combine their digital and real lives. Thus, the trend of lifestyle banking appears right in time.
Lifestyle banking becomes a powerful instrument, which helps banks redefine the way of allocating, saving and spending money. The concept is based on highly satisfying customer experience, created by banking digital channels, mostly mobile apps.
In some way, banks distance themselves from boring reports and tiresome necessary procedures and encompass the sources of positive emotions: traveling, enjoying exquisite cuisine, visiting theaters, cinemas, and shows. Relevant offers appear in the banking app, right on the fingertips, anticipating customer needs thanks to predictive analytics.
If you are developing the digital sphere, here are the aspects to keep in mind:
#1. Focus on mobile banking solutions
In comparison to other generations, millennials are accessing their financial information on their mobile device 8.5 times more often. While lifestyle banking is centered upon a perfectly working mobile app, implementing this concept is a great chance for a breakthrough in mobile digital banking.
It is clear that apps have a tangible advantage in comparison to bank websites and other channels. Camera, advanced geolocation, and access to contact lists open almost unlimited opportunities for app functionality and personalization.
Millennials are twice as likely to stick to mobile-only bank concept in comparison to older generations. The mobile-only trend is gaining momentum and is substantially sprawling in Latin America countries, India, Indonesia, and Turkey.
From the vendor’s perspective:
Based on Qulix experience, there is a flourishing amount of banks investing in mobile development. Improving the mobile channel is one of the most promising ways in outreaching to the younger generations.
You can turn threats into opportunities by updating your mobile app and aligning it with the lifestyle banking ideas. App functionality and performance are defined by functional and non-functional requirements. As software vendors, we can offer you help in creating these documents or accept pre-written requirements and build mobile products according to them.
When it comes to digital transformation accenting lifestyle banking, it’s important to research for new desirable features and to continuously improve the basic ones.
How can you improve customer experience with basic features?
- Automate as much as you can. For example, not so long ago, users had to enter all the details from bills and checks manually, and no wonder it led to errors and typos. Then apps learned to automatically use some values from the reference books. Today many banking apps offer payments via barcode or QR code scanning. This is very convenient for utility bills, taxes, fines, etc.
- Omnichannel is the key. The goal is to provide a frictionless transition from one communication channel to another one when customers receive product notifications and alerts, make payments and other financial operations. By the way, as 46% of bank customers now only interact with their financial institutions digitally, omnichannel is slowly turning into omnidigital.
- Avoid functionality gap between digital channels. Omnichannel has already influenced user expectations, especially in millennials. However, quite often it turns out that RBS channels are developed by different teams with different ideas about functionality. Users can understand if the web interface lacks functions that are difficult to implement technically (like inability to scan the QR on the laptop). The unexplainable functionality difference will leave them puzzled.
- Improved biometrics
Voice/face/eye/video recognition or fingerprint scans can be used as a digital signature to improve transaction security and eliminate the need for memorizing passwords. In addition, as more and more countries collect fingerprints and other biometrics, banks can verify identity and obtain new clients in regions, where they have no brick-and-mortar offices.
- Chatbots and Voice Assistants
63% of users are ready to share their personal data with banks in return for new benefits and personalized service.
In addition to providing information to users, chatbots can be used for gathering data about them. Based on prior experience, chatbots can start highly personalized conversations with customers and help them feel their significance for the bank. For example, due to predictive analytics and customer-specific data (individual spending patterns), chatbots can make valuable saving-up recommendations.
Moreover, this tool can extend the direct sales channel by offering integrated services right in the chat.
Voice chatbots, like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, add even more opportunities for the financial sector: according to research, they are most popular in users age from 25 to 34. Voice assistants perfectly go along with the lifestyle banking, as they can enable customers to check their account balance, track their expenses, make payments and use integrated services on the go.
- More RBS available in the app
It is already possible to apply for a new banking card or for a loan within the app avoiding visits to the bank. Some banks enable their customers with a tool to calculate their credit potential and to apply for a loan on individual conditions.
Another remote banking service, which has appeared in some cutting-edge banking apps, is the opportunity to open and manage an investment account in the app. Additional features include a selection tool for the clients to choose the currency, the total amount of invested funds and some other portfolio options.
- Integration with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, NFC and more
Along with the boom of contactless payments, banks started the implementation of these technologies in their apps. In some banks, it is possible to connect Apple Pay right after applying for a banking card and pay for purchases without having yet received the card at the bank’s office (Alfa-Bank).
For example, banks use AR to locate the nearest branch or ATM (The National Bank of Oman), to show the best dining offers nearby or for app gamification. Here is a couple of other interesting features we discovered:
- Simultaneous fund transfers to multiple recipients (Siam Commercial Bank). To do this, the user selects the option in the menu, then selects the payment recipients, specify the account for the debit and the amount they want to transfer to each of them.
- Queue reservation in the bank office via a text message (DBS Bank). This way customers visit the bank office at the specified time and don’t need to wait.
- In-app messengers for communication with friends and family on financial issues and instant P2P transfers (Tinkoff Bank).
- Shared access to bank accounts (Westpac Bank).
An inspiring example: Spanish bank BBVA uses big data to expand the range of value-added services and boost the customer experience. They have introduced Bconomy (a financial wellbeing tool), Valora (a smart calculator to deal with real estate), and Baby Planner service. The bank announces its plans on improving its mobile app. The new version will automate payments via the biometric technology and allow booking tables in restaurants, make orders from the app and leave the place without waiting for a bill.
From the vendor’s perspective:
To develop a potentially successful mobile banking solution, there needs to be a balance between must-have and experimental lifestyle features. The former build customer loyalty, while the latter build competitive advantages. The proportion depends on the bank’s strategy and financial capacities.
#3. Engaging and encouraging experience
While the financial needs of older generations can be expressed mostly through products, the needs of millennials concentrate around 4 major aspects:
A lot of banks have already embraced customer journeys, but they still keep drawing them around banking products. We wouldn’t say it’s wrong, but in lifestyle banking, it’s a good idea to design experiences to meet millennials at some starting point and follow them across all of the 4 aspects mentioned above.
Customers don’t want loans, they want to purchase a house or a car. They don’t want a new card with promo offers, they want to go out for dinner and be served a couple of unexpected welcoming cocktails. Be present to provide engaging experience at every step.
What to keep in mind:
- Non-obtrusive yet comprehensive service. Great assistance means invisible assistance, so be there for millennials only when they ask for help or seem interested in a certain type of experience. Your customers are likely to appreciate the simplicity and a multitude of payment options: in-app, card, mobile, wearables and via third-party services.
- Guiding through their journey. As time passes between the emergence need and its fulfillment, keep the customers focused on the end result providing them with milestones and tips. Be it education, traveling around the world or purchasing a home: banks can assist by sharing insights on affordability, best offers, saving plans and repayment modeling. AI and machine learning are at your service.
How to engage millennials in using your banking app?
- Bonuses and attractive partner programs
Opportunity to select categories for higher cashback, multiple ways to redeem bonuses (exchanging for payments, goods or experiences), limited offers from partners and more.
- Experimental non-financial features
Purchasing tickets in the app and getting cashback (filters for events by category and distance), communication with other customers, viewing financial tips and business news, in-app registration as an entrepreneur, etc.
Participation in marketing games via making payments in specified categories.
- Going social
Social network and PR activities. For example, First Direct Bank introduced a #SavingCup hashtag to motivate customers to share their saving goals and showed how many coffees they need to cut out to reach their goals. The hashtag #ISaveSoICan was created by the US Bank to encourage followers to share the pictures of the experiences they are saving on. Some brands like American Express or Chase promote inspirational millennials on their social media and make use of storytelling. Educational and entertaining content is used to promote the brand as a whole, and not only some of its digital channels. It helps banks highlight themselves and add value to their marketing initiatives.
A lot of banks successfully use this trend of creating an encouraging experience: they add functions that help the app become part of the customer’s lifestyle and offer valuable perks to approach the concept of lifestyle banking.
From the vendor’s perspective:
In contrast to the expectations of some banks, software vendors can be initiative and proactive. The overall process of development is flexible, yet adheres to cooperation guidelines. Specify early if you welcome the ideas on certain features, design or technical implementation that may slightly increase the expenses.
In the second part of this article we are going to consider the following aspects:
- Customer data and security
and provide the key takeaways.
Contact our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss software development for banks and fintech organizations.
About the author:
Denis Novikov, Deputy Director of Business Development at Qulix Systems.
· A strategy development consultant for Digital Banking products;
· An expert in the field of software development and implementation for financial organizations;
· A representative of the StandFore FS intellectual banking platform.
The article is published on Finextra.com, one of the leading independent newswire and information sources for the worldwide financial technology community.