The financial crisis of 2008 had far-reaching consequences, some of which can still be felt. Public trust in traditional banking institutions has eroded and brands in the sector are dealing with the reputational damages endured. One needn’t look further than Chase Bank capitalizing on the trend of being relatable on social media only to face public wrath for bailouts that occurred ten years earlier.
Consumers have clearly not forgotten the crisis. In fact, the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer ranked financial services as the least trusted industry worldwide. In the same report, technology ranked as the most trusted. Silicon Valley flourished in the decade following the financial crisis, with organizations small and large introducing technologies that would come to revolutionize consumer finance.
In this landscape, tech conglomerates, have been able to make serious in-roads into different aspects of consumer finance, a process that shows no signs of waning.
Amazon was among the trailblazers innovating in this space, introducing one-click ordering as early as 2000. With an ecosystem boasting 310 million active customer accounts, over 100 million Prime subscribers and over 5 million sellers across 12 marketplaces, Amazon is no rookie. The retail giant is building an array of financial services to increase further participation in the Amazon ecosystem, ranging from payments infrastructure to Amazon Pay – which already has 33 million customers worldwide.
Amazon Cash, which launched in 2017, enables customers to deposit cash to their Amazon.com balance by showing a barcode at participating retailers. The cash is applied to their Amazon account immediately, giving “cash customers,” such as anyone who doesn’t have a bank account or debit and credit cards, the ability to shop on the e-tail giant.
The technological advancements in voice will ultimately enable Amazon to make further encroachments into consumer finance. Virtual assistant Alexa is set to dominate voice shopping, currently having the largest market share of smart speakers, more than twice that of its competitors, Google and Microsoft. Purchases processed through voice are expected to skyrocket to $40 billion by 2022. As consumers were already using the platform, the introduction of new customer-friendly payment experiences serve to further boost Amazon’s position.
Apple has similarly made great strides in the space. ApplePay is already available in 33 countries, with over 250 million users worldwide.
CEO Tim Cook recently announced Apple Card, a new credit card, which is expected to be released in the US this summer before potentially being rolled out globally. Purchases from Apple’s physical stores, website, App Store or iTunes will come with a 3% cash back, with all other purchases at 1%, all in the form of Daily Cash, which will then be added in Apple’s Wallet app.
Apple is building an ecosystem which will see consumers use Apple products to pay, with the cash back options leading to more purchasing. In addition to the seamless customer experience across its portfolio, the giant is pushing privacy as its main differentiator, with its latest “Privacy Matters” commercial prime example. Apple wants to assure customers that all their private information on their phone is safe, with its new credit card offering similarly touting security and ease of use.
Facebook introduced peer-to-peer payment in its messenger app back in 2015, but it is the company’s subsidiary Instagram that is making significant in-roads to consumer finance.
Facebook usage might be steadily dwindling, but Instagram is on the rise. As Instagram is a highly visual medium and users have the feed to interact with their favourite brands, it was a logical next step that the network would introduce purchasing and payment mechanisms sooner rather than later. This became a reality earlier in the year with Instagram enabling in-app checkout for its shoppable posts. In April 2019, the offering was extended from brands to influencers, significantly boosting Instagram’s reach. Deutsche Bank analysts have already predicted Instagram’s move into social shopping could be worth $10 billion by as soon as 2021.
But while the West is fast encroaching this space, no one has managed to catch up to WeChat’s fast ascension into the sphere of digital payments. With over 1 billion active users, and thanks to its own in-app shopping and payment system, the Chinese social media network is a force to be reckoned with. It provides a seamless mobile lifestyle through which consumers can order food, send and receive money, pay utility bills, shop and more.
Social payments are the norm. Consumers can buy a friend a cup of coffee and send it through WeChat Pay. Busking musicians no longer expect coins or notes, they have signs with their WeChat Pay QR codes on them. WeChat Pay leads the way with over 600 million users, outranking most of its competitors. Tencent, the company that owns WeChat recently joined forces with JD.com, China’s leading e-commerce platform to cover both online and offline markets.
Thanks to the innovative way they use technology to communicate integrity, security and trust, as well as creating a better customer experience, tech organizations have seen younger generations and seasoned consumers alike gravitate towards digital-first offerings.
But while challengers were ahead of the curve in evaluating how consumers want to interact with banks, traditional players need not despair. From designing apps that introduce a more mobile-first offering to embracing cutting-edge tech, such as AI and IoT, to enable predictive and hyper-personalized interactions, there is plenty traditional banks can do to create captivating customer journeys to meet customers’ ever-evolving expectations.
Originally published on the Finance Monthly website.