The digitalization of the banking industry has been widely discussed in recent years. Cost efficiency through low interest rates, the Payment Accounts Act (Zahlungskontengesetz), PSD2, Fintechs – there were many arguments for it. But only now, in the face of closed branches due to the coronavirus pandemic, are we experiencing a wave of digitalization. Which touchpoints and processes will survive the crisis?
Social distancing is shifting life more and more into the digital world. According to studies, it’s not only gaming and entertainment apps that will seen significant increases in installation numbers in the first quarter of 2020. According to the Mobile App Trends Report 2020 by analyst Adjust, business apps are also showing significant gains. Compared to the same period of the previous year, usage time has more than doubled and the number of installations has increased by 70 percent.
The digital customer journey has suddenly become indispensable for bank customers as well. Contactless payment, for example, is officially recommended by the WHO. According to estimates, half of all card payments in Germany are already contactless, as reported by the Tagesschau. Customers now research information on their asset management digitally, as they can no longer visit their bank advisor in person. Even complex consulting services such as construction financing or corporate loans are available online. Video consulting in general has received a new boost and has become an equal means of communication for all institutions, while it was previously used mainly by direct banks.
Nevertheless, local branches remain an important point of contact for many customers to obtain cash. In the middle of the crisis, the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe launched a new app, proving that it can both be there for customers on a regional basis and at the same time offer digital added value.
According to statistics from W&V, 19 percent of advertising measures with a reference to the coronavirus currently express the message “We are here for you.” Almost half (49 percent) of the corona-specific advertising measures focus on business continuity. As short-term information, this may well work – but does this really turn a bank into a likeable brand in the gray world of financial service providers? It is much more important to establish clear positioning during this time or to at least enhance your own brand.
Now is the time for banks to set themselves apart from the competition – with fresh ideas, a contemporary image, and appealing campaigns. Online banking has to offer an excellent customer experience and win awards for design and usability. The individualized EC cards have to become a fashion accessory that influencers use to post in their Instagram selfies. Customers must be able to adjust the credit card limit in their app immediately and conveniently, should the need arise. These are just a few examples of how banks can emotionally charge their brand.