The High Tech of High Touch Banking
Financial institutions are well-versed in balancing economic instability with increasing regulatory pressures and ever-present cyber threats, but the COVID-19 pandemic turned everything on its head with regard to the digitization of banking.
All industries could realize increased efficiencies by implementing technology solutions, and banks are no different. But, in order to remain agile and respond to the digital needs that COVID generated, financial institutions are accelerating the additions of new digital projects and proactively revising their long-term strategic vision.
A good amount of this technological evolution can be attributed to the rise of financial services by nonbanking organizations, including retailer apps and logistics firms. As such, banks have had to step up the pace of their digital roll outs. In addition to the upcoming release of an invoicing tool for micro-businesses (think Etsy shop owners, solo consultants, home-based businesses), Blackhawk Bank has rolled out digital products such as checking accounts with identify theft monitoring and resolution services, person-to-person payment options, bill payment features that collaborate with Alexa-enabled devices, platforms that allow for real-time decisions to pay, return or block certain payments, personal budgeting and cash flow tools, and, most recently, contactless cards.
The banks who are able to partner with FinTechs by embedding, co-branding, or bundling a range of services into their product offerings can remain competitive on the digital front, but that’s not the only environment where service must be addressed. For as much as Banking as a Service (BaaS) options have become standard practice, there is a large number of savvy consumers and business owners that desire the benefits of consultative relationships with their financial professionals.
A 2021 Consumer Banking Report survey of 21,000 banking customers found that 34% want more than digital and transactional interactions with their bankers and credit unions, and that number is anticipated to continue growing with younger generations.
We’ve found that new home buyers need the guidance of experienced mortgage professionals to assist in navigating the current, ultra-competitive housing market. Business owners highly value banks that can bring proactive ideas and solutions on topics for which banks aren’t typically known to hold expertise - things like the labor market, digital marketing, search engine optimization, succession planning and business valuations. Our bankers have become experts on everything from supply chain management and skilled labor gaps in manufacturing, to health and dental practice model efficiencies, to industry forecasts in the campground and RV park industry.
While the digital experience is definitely an area of differentiation in the post-COVID world, banks must meet the needs of those evolved customers who are less price sensitive and value engagement on an emotional level through more than digital and rate-based benefits. Trust, advice and expertise are still the currency in the new normal of digital banking.
President & CEO