KUALA LUMPUR – Due to the global pandemic, many of our lives have changed beyond recognition in just a few months. One of the biggest changes has been the need to do electronically what we have historically done face to face: video conferencing for meetings, shopping online, food delivery, everyday banking and so on.
The question is how much of this change will prove to be permanent versus how much is temporary. If Covid-19 was to end overnight, would old patterns of behaviour return or would new habits become permanent?
For the banking industry, the answer is probably more towards permanent change.
Here are some predictions on how banking will look like post-Covid-19:
The transition towards digital was inevitable for routine activities – checking balances, payments and transfers, paying a bill and even credit card applications. Many of these activities are habits, which are unlikely to change once embedded. There will be more people who will bank via digital channels and their behaviour is likely to stay.
HSBC Remote Engagement Service was launched in time to allow customers to interact with the Bank without the need to be physically present at the branches. This is an alternate channel that is supported by Zoom, Live Connect, and Live Sign.
The way branches look and feel will change. Branches will become less about rows of tellers managing daily transactions, which can now be done online – and more like service lounges. Agents will be on hand to guide customers through transactions on their own devices, and space will be broken up into more casual seating areas for deeper private conversations.
Covid-19 enabled regulators and banks to work together to rapidly help customers keep banking during the early outbreak of Covid – examples of which include collaboration to increase the availability of video banking services in some markets. We predict that this cooperation will accelerate further still as increased digitisation persists and evolves into new areas like AI and machine learning.
Increased digitisation for customers will also drive increasing partnerships between banks and platforms like online retailers and social platforms, so that you can bank where you spend or socialise.
Separately, we are seeing new digital entrants to retail banking markets around the world, but we also predict that as digital platforms become more scalable, established international banks will begin to challenge with digitally-centric offerings both inside and outside their home markets.
The benefit of both changes for consumers will be clear: more choice. For the established banks it’s an opportunity to compete in new markets, segments and marketplaces. Post-Covid-19, it is unlikely that normalcy will be exactly the same as life before. Covid-19 has made us focused as a society on a range of new solutions to familiar problems in order to help live our lives during a pandemic – and some of these will be permanently embedded.
But while some parts of service industries like banking will change, the human element will persist-particularly where complexity is involved and reassurance needed.