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Banking in the future: Omni-channel, social, and fun PFM

The two-day Finovate conference came to an end with a loud presentation from two actors in Daft Punk helmets presenting Soon, a mobile-first current account from French Axa Banque who declared themselves as disruptors. Soon’s aim is to disrupt the French market by redesigning daily banking with added emotion and a focus on simplicity. This was a rousing end to an exciting day during which we gained a real sense of the upcoming technology offerings likely to become available to consumers in the near future.

One of the stand-out PFM solutions was Tink, also of the Best of Show Winners and already a live proposition in Sweden. Tink’s ideal target demographic was described as a 25 year old female who has never done PFM before but has time to put in two minutes of admin time 3 times a week. The aim of Tink is to make the boring and time-consuming aspect of PFM more fun as it tracks your everyday expenses. A ‘Tink Selfie’ shows users a quick overview of their spending: where they spent the most money compared to the most expensive purchase. For example, their demonstration compared their eating out habits (most-used McDonalds) and the place where they spent the most (Hakkasan) in a simple, weekly infographic. Proving that they are sticking to the basic principles on which they designed the app, this feature deliberately misses out ‘boring’ expenses such as rent to show customers an accurate portrayal of their ‘fun’ spending habits. This clearly executed vision of allowing users to track the everyday expenses that matter to them made it stand out amongst the crowd of PFM solutions as having real market potential.

It was also apparent, throughout FinovateEurope, that multi-platform availability will be central to the ongoing innovations, and this does not just concern the Android vs iOS war. We saw a POS payment authorisation straight from a smart watch by Payworks and a queue of people eager to demo the EbankIT app on Google Glass at the end of the day. Payworks gave an inspiring talk on the exciting potential of innovation in the POS world and how by fully utilising mobile technology that potential was finally providing real commercial options. They showed one such option, their own Payworks platform, which doesn’t lock the merchant into one provider or payment processor during the checkout process and can send the user an instant notification to a Smartphone when payment is completed.

Other less common platforms included an ATM with smart browsing facility. On this, as well as other more popular platforms, a heavily personalised experience could be possible thanks to the ‘Personal Experience Module’, a part of the iBanking product suite from NFInnova. Their team showed how an example of their ‘portal’ which adapts automatically to show the main functionalities important to customers by monitoring online behaviour. This Austrian company compared the potential for huge data aggregation which banks have access to, to how the dating industry automatically matches a user’s preferences to potential suitors. The level to which Payworks could tailor the user experience was certainly interesting with the customer’s personal ‘portal’ being rebuilt automatically to intuitively display the functionalities that they need most at the time. This would also surely, ultimately create higher engagement from users.

Increasing engagement through social media also received some attention with many of the apps described above integrating social media.  One such innovation, based purely on the ability to share online was MyWishBoard, which is modelled on the success of Pinterest. Users can pin ideas and pictures of products to their board and the wishes can be fulfilled by friends and subscribers contributing, the money can then be withdrawn to a credit card. The interface acts like a newsfeed and users sign in with Facebook. Looking at all the examples given here, it is clear that sharing your life on social media will only continue to grow and personal finance is not immune to this phenomenon.

It seems as though, for the future, the ‘personal’ aspect of finance management will head towards more of a ‘sharing’ aspect as customer interact with their banks more than ever before and banks create a more engaging user experience.

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