Selfies, Siri, Snapchat
When I think about the current state of consumer software, three words immediately spring to mind: Selfies, Siri, and Snapchat. This trio symbolizes a standard of right-now, me-centered service, which is what we’ve all come to expect. We expect to take a picture of ourselves and instantly share it. We expect to say, "Siri, how can I get a cup of coffee?” and get an immediate answer. In short, we expect instant service through the supercomputers in our pocket.
As I develop software, I keep this standard of right-now, me-centered service at the front of my mind. I ask myself, "Is this enabling an instant, me-centric model?” and “Can this service exist within the world that users have set up for themselves?" This is the standard that banks and credit unions need to offer their account holders.
To meet this standard, financial institutions must pay attention to current products that do it well. My current favorite is Digit, which changes the engagement model for savings by making it seamless and passive. Digit hasn't introduced any speed bumps into my daily life. It works on my terms in an immediate way, and that is a characteristic of good financial software.
To truly incorporate the appeal of selfies, Siri, and Snapchat, it’s not enough to merely make a good financial product available. Financial institutions must also engage with consumers wherever they are.
This idea hit me as I read a newsletter from Benedict Evans about a year ago. He noted how much time we humans spend with glass. There's one type of glass on your smartphone, one type of glass on your desktop or laptop, one type of glass on your television, and so on. What I found interesting was how much television still dominates the spread of glass.
When I saw this data I thought, "If developers start solving for only one piece of glass, then we are missing out on what humanity is telling us about where they want to see information." I realized that financial institutions can do a better job of offering technology that delivers on all channels — including the TV.
It comes down to taking a step back from the micro problem you're trying to solve and saying, "what are we being told at a macro level?" Ultimately, the macro movements of humanity are going to define the next era.
Personalized Financial Insights, Right Now
Macro movements also indicate that consumers increasingly desire personalized financial insights — especially when the insights come from their financial institution.
Many financial institutions don’t understand that at some level they are competing against third-party money management solutions like Mint.com. Mint is basically saying to consumers, "Hey, let me remove you from the relationship with your financial institution and put you into a relationship with another institution." Mint figured out a business model centered on getting people to switch institutions, a process that erodes the relationship that most banks have worked hard to create.
Banks and credit unions can counter the pressure from Mint.com by proactively engaging consumers via their own digital banking channels. Banks should be able to say, "We're looking at your data, and we see you're about to overdraft. Let us help you with that." Or, “You’re getting close to spending more than you’ve allotted for your food budget. Better hold back for now.“ Predictive data like this will help account holders understand their financial status at that moment, which will drive user loyalty and safeguard banks and credit unions against third-party competition.
By analyzing the appeal of selfies, Siri, and Snapchat, we can see that consumers are looking for a right-now, me-centered software model. For banks and credit unions, this means offering products that help consumers on their own terms and in their own way — especially as it relates to financial health. When consumers see that their financial institution meets these needs, they’ll engage more often and become loyal adopters of financial services and products. It’s the best way to get ahead of digital banking trends.
Financial institutions are no longer being compared solely to other institutions. The digital age has led consumers to compare their banking activities with all other interactions they experience. Learn more about the changing consumer demographics and how institutions can better understand and market to them in our digital banking white paper.
Brandon Dewitt is the CTO at MX.