Two weeks ago we introduced the MX 2021 Banker’s Survey, an original survey created to better understand the outlook for banking in 2021. 

Our first post showed that bankers have seen significant shifts in 2021 business objectives toward digital experience initiatives, financial wellness tools, and risk avoidance. Our second post showed that enhanced data has become a key 2021 initiative and that consumers increasingly demand data-driven services.

This final post builds on both of the previous posts to illustrate the state of innovation, especially as it relates to digital experience initiatives. We’ve found that while enhanced data is the foundation of innovation, it’s not sufficient for what the future demands. You also have to build the right digital experiences on top of that data.

To start, we found that more than half (55%) say that progress and interest in these initiatives have accelerated from 2020 to 2021 — which fits with the notion that 2020 forced most industries (including banking) into digital approaches to customer service.

Digital banking 2021

What’s particularly noteworthy here is that 94.5% say they’ve made open banking a 2021 priority.

open banking 2021

In this same vein, 87% agreed that increasing the volume of externally held data is a priority for their institution’s success in 2021. 

externally held data

And even more — 95% — say that creating a consistent and reliable user experience across platforms is a 2021 priority.

external bank data

It’s one thing to figure out what bankers are prioritizing. But does it match consumer demands? To figure this out, we surveyed 1,000+ random U.S., asking similar questions to the ones we asked bankers.

What do consumers want? 

When we asked consumers what they want from their financial institution in 2021, we found that people overwhelmingly want higher savings account rates.

Unfortunately, there’s likely not much that financial institutions and fintech companies can do on this front. The same can be said about decreasing loan rates. 

So what’s left? 

According to the survey, consumers want to improve the online and mobile banking experience and to offer financial wellness tools.

When we asked directly, 78% of consumers said that they want their bank to prioritize digital strategies (mobile/online) above physical banking (branch/ATM) strategies in 2021.

2021 Consumer banking survey

The same percentage of respondents (78%) say that mobile banking is the primary way they intend to do banking in 2021.

2021 consumer banking survey

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, 56% disagreed that physical branches would play a critical role in how they interact with their bank in 2021.

2021 consumer bank survey

A Digital-first Mindset

What’s particularly telling here is how much bankers’ attention to and consumer demand for digital has shifted not just throughout the last decade but especially throughout 2020. For better or worse, people have grown more accustomed than ever to doing anything they want online, from shopping to ordering out to interacting with friends. 

They’ve similarly become resistant to physical banking experiences. Our bankers’ survey shows that most people in the industry understand this and have a strategy to succeed on this front, and our consumer survey shows that people have moved quickly to a digital-first mindset.

To take advantage of this shift, financial services companies should also lead out on creating a digital-first mindset — a mindset that expands basic banking services well beyond what people have traditionally come to expect from their financial institutions via open finance.

Looking to understand how you can best do that? Read the Ultimate Guide to Bank APIs.