The future of digital banking interactions was the central focus of the last Money 20/20 Las Vegas. Looking some years ahead from now, João Lima Pinto, ebankIT’s co-founder, gave an in-depth interview to the Fintech Times magazine. The potential role of metaverse, the importance of choosing the right digital banking innovations, and how ebankIT is helping financial institutions to offer engaging solutions were some of the topics discussed in this interview.
Q: What is the main inspiration behind ebankIT? What problem are you trying to solve in the banking industry?
A: Our goal is to create something that makes it easier for financial institutions to do the digital transformation. To create something that brings all the innovation that is coming through without the burden or the cost of the people that financial institutions would need if they would do it by themselves. When you look at omnichannel digital banking, financial institutions know what the market has, what is in place and what is required of them right now. But if you look three years on the line, there are going to be many innovations coming. As an institution, you can either create a big research department and try to build what’s going to come or rely on companies that focus on that for you. And that’s our case, we look at the omnichannel space and figure out which are going to be the next digital banking innovations. How are we going to build it and how are we going to deploy it? That's the gap we try to fill, and we are filling it in the market.
Q: “Humanizing digital banking” and “Customer engagement” are some of the expressions often referred by ebankIT. What are the benefits of having more engaged banking customers?
A: When we look at the digital banking evolution, we can revisit different generations. First customers had to go to the branch. Then, in the late ’90s, digital solutions started to appear, and people were like: “oh great, I can check my balance on the internet”. Then, smartphones appeared, and people were like: “oh great, I can check balances and do other things on my mobile phone”. Now, there is a new generation entering the market, and many of these new customers probably haven’t been to a branch.
This new generation expects to have access to payments and to every other service at any time and anywhere. And wants financial institutions to communicate the way they expect. To show them the products and functionalities that are relevant to them. At this moment, there is lots of competition in the market, and these new customers are more likely to stay with a financial institution if the institutions offer them all they need.
"There is a new generation entering the market,
and many of these new banking customers
probably never have been to a branch"
Q: And how does ebankIT help banks and credit unions offer engaging digital experiences?
A: We already got to a stage where customers have an app and see all the functionalities. Users can check their balances, make payments, etc. But there are many other functionalities that users many times don't get it. Because it’s more difficult to access them or they face some problem at the first time and don't know what to do. As a financial institution, you have to move one step further, making sure that when a user tries a new feature or faces a technical issue, they are contacted in a humanized, personalized way. And then, users must have the choice to personalize their app, choosing what matters to them and what doesn’t.
Imagine a user that wants to make a specific transaction or payment, but he doesn’t know how to do it, because he has never done it before. Usually, he either goes to a branch or contacts the contact center. But this has to be offered digitally, within the app. There must be some online help that says “I can see you are doing this”, and give a proactive solution before the user tries to complete the same operation in a different channel, or even in a different bank. Customers must feel that the organization understands their problems and is behind them through the entire journey.
So, I could be talking about some specific features that we offer within our platform and that have a great impact on the user experience. But most of our digital banking innovations are just natural human behavior. We must keep in mind what people expect to happen next when they face any kind of situation, and offer them the best and most intuitive solution.
Q: And do you think the metaverse could play a role in this industry?
A: That’s quite a big topic at the moment. I think this is going to be part of our lives, whether it's going to be metaverse, whether it's going to be something else after. And when you look at a universe like this, obviously you're going to need different services. You can start with the usual: media, people interacting with each other, etc. But at some stage, there's going to be financial services too. Imagine that a customer is in the metaverse, and suddenly remembers that has a payment to do – not in the metaverse – but in our universe. We can start obviously with all the cryptocurrencies and NFTs, but at some moment Financial institutions will have to offer a link between the two universes. That’s going to be very interesting.
Q: Following on from that vein, what do you think are the upcoming trends in digital banking?
A: When we look at different functionalities that will come into the market, a big chunk is about humanizing. it's not just about providing functionalities anymore, but how financial institutions make sure that users feel part of the process.
Another important trend is embedded finance. Operations like checking a balance or making a payment have become simple commodities, and users expect to access them at anytime, anywhere and probably on many devices. For example, a friend paid my lunch and I want to pay them back, but I don't want to think: “Give me your details, your account number”. No, I just want to say: “Okay, I owe this amount of money, here it is.” This can be done in many different ways.
In the end, the important thing is that customers don’t think that digital has turned things more difficult: “In a normal world – without being digital – I would just pick up the wallet, take a few notes and here it is”. All these functionalities are going to be more and more part of our daily lives and both digital providers and financial institutions must make them what users want: simple, simple, simple. That’s approach is what is going to play a big role in our future.
Watch the full interview