Money, banking and associated customer support are all changing fast. Any business that trades needs to monitor and adopt these trends to keep customers coming, to use them to be more efficient in their own trade, and to keep the payments flowing. 

Several recent grim experiences showed how flaky traditional banking services are, and how digital money, new technology and challenger banks can take advantage.

The recent TSB outage, a £200 million disaster is just the latest customer relations failure by a major bank. And, the growing refrain, of “there’s no such thing as free banking” suggests costs to the customer will start to rise soon. That’s as card and payment systems struggle to keep up with the load, and handling actual cash becomes a drag on the banks.

Then there’s the queue for customer service, when the app or online banking service isn’t working, you can never get hold of a person. While Asian banks are all over chatbots to handle booming demand and queries, UK and some European services are lagging behind, likely due to cost and intransigence.

Everyone has a few personal examples they can cite. Our usually quiet local Chinese takeaway recently had eight people in it, all trying, but failing, to pay through one of the those miniature card dongles. In the end, the pleasant lady behind the counter started taking manual payments on a tablet, slowly typing everyone’s details (account, sort code, postcode, etc, that any passing hacker would have been furiously writing down or recording, as she confirmed them with the card holder). Those with cars went to get cash out instead, assuming the cash points were working!

Cash, remember that? People are using it less and less, expecting contactless payments to sail through, but sometimes they don’t. Users forget the first payment on a new card usually has to be chip-and-pin. People on a shopping spree may find they need to make random chip and pin payments to prove their card hasn’t been stolen, all of which adds to the confusion and time spent at the tills.

Solutions Pick Up The Pace & Customers Will Accept Them

In summary, current banking services are messy, ripe for so-called disruption, but in reality an evolution in technology. Customer service is rapidly being taken over by chatbots, who can handle around 25% of customer queries, growing up to 75% as they learn the main problems. That’s according to Filament, experts in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning whoe’s MD Phil Westcott believes that by 2020, all call-centres will have a front end chat-bot to answer queries.

Challenger Banks and new financial services by necessity need to be lean and fast to attract customers. Their digital services need to be instant and rewarding, which is why so many, like Monzo or Plum, offer to improve your financial health.

Digital wallets will play a key part in this future. With money in the app, there to spend instantly without central authentication, payments will speed up, if stores adopt that wallet. Finding the right service will be key with many contenders vying for business. People will also benefit by being able to use multiple currencies, simplifying travel and, later, invest in shares or bitcoin as part of a single app. Keeping all their money in one visible location, even as it spreads out to work harder for them, will be a big part of that future.

However slow or fast a country is to go digital, these trends represent the future of how people handle their money, and how they will expect customer support to be instant, effective and engaging. Apps and chatbots can handle thousands or millions of customers at a time, and with none of the cost of a high-street bank, which continue to close in large numbers, the all-digital bank is a logical conclusion.

Younger bank customers will soon consider the branch an anachronism. And while the days of banks throwing loans and overdrafts at customers is over, a new era of responsible-focused banking will see people more interested in their money, which requires constant access to an app or chatbot for information.

Vendors like SnatchBot provide chatbot services globally, across multiple social media services, as part of the “be where your customers are” drive. These services loaded with natural language processing and growing AI skills will save banks having to develop their own bots, and as they become smarter will become the dominant part a customer’s interactions, saving all parties time and expense.