Amid the current pandemic consumers in the United States are facing a new reality, one that increasingly means transacting online whether they want to or not. While some younger generations have embraced fintech in recent years, others have held their current traditional banking relationships firm. These forced behavioral changes are likely to shape what financial services will look like in the next decade. In this post we have collected some of the biggest changes we see coming to financial services.
Work from Home Culture
Employees that have the ability to work at home are now doing so. In the early days of the pandemic some companies started testing out having all employees working from home to make sure any hiccups could be addressed. Other firms split their teams in different locations to avoid contamination at both sites, but now that the coronavirus is widespread this too has shifted. Now even stock traders are staying home stymied by their slower internet connections.
Last week JPMorgan Chase announced that they were temporarily cutting 20% of their branches, at the same time sharing that they would be able to continue to serve communities where they currently operate. Financial firms of all sizes are now working to manage the increased security risks of employees working from home. After the kinks are worked out, I expect going forward that even some of the most regulated financial institutions may be more open to having their employees work from home. Banks such as JPMorgan Chase may soon realize that they didn’t need those extra branches in the first place which brings me to my next prediction.
Online Banking for Everyone
With bank branches closing, many are quickly realizing the benefits of online banking, including some of the features that they didn’t know existed. Once this convenience is realized it is likely that some will never return to their bank branch. It is amazing that with all of the sophisticated digital banking services on offer today that it takes a pandemic to force users out of their routines. Banks will have to respond and change how they offer support to these consumers who are leveraging new technology for the first time but the net result is a shot in the arm for digital banking.
Increased Adoption of Contactless Payments
It is inevitable that contactless payments will be the payment type of choice at a time when we are distancing ourselves from other people and surfaces. For me personally it is the often ignored corner of my phone but that will soon change as I add my credit cards. Once consumers get over this initial hurdle we’ll likely see contactless payments more commonplace and cash transactions continue to decrease.
A Digital Home Buying Experience
Realtors are working to continue to help real estate buyers and sellers in this time of uncertainty. A close friend had their initial showing for a property purchase happen via a video from their realtor in an attempt to cut down on unnecessary visits to the property. While seeing a property in person will always be important when transacting real estate we’re going to start to see more lenders adapt their processes to handle a more digital transaction. As a homeowner I am keeping a close eye on refinance rates and it will be interesting to see what new processes are in place if rates were to fall to record low levels. I see service providers that partner with banks being the major benefactor here.
Fintech Small Business Lenders May Help SBA
While it’s too early to tell, it’s possible that fintechs will play a role in distributing funds to small businesses. Some fintechs are already lobbying legislators to leverage their technology including the way they underwrite small businesses. There are concerns that traditional lenders will move too slowly to get desperately needed money to affected small businesses in time. This recent Forbes article shares the current news in this area.
More Innovation Coming from Fintech companies
Uncertainty inevitably leads to increased innovation. Just as we saw coming out of the recession in 2008 I expect we will see new companies come out of this recession stronger than ever. It is hard to imagine at this point which companies this will be but fintech companies are already looking for ways they can help ease the burden on consumers, small businesses and other financial institutions. Ron Shevlin published a piece today containing a list of fintechs who are “extending free, discounted, or accelerated deployment offers to financial institutions.” The growing list of companies cover many areas of financial services. We also saw Kabbage launch an offering which allows consumers to purchase gift certificates for small businesses. The funds are deposited as early as next business day to help keep small businesses afloat during turbulent times.
Much of the news lately has focused on the profound negative impacts that the coronavirus is having on the economy across the globe. While I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of the virus and the pain that many families are experiencing, it’s important to also look forward to what the future may hold. While there will likely be many more long term changes beyond what I have detailed here above, we can see many of the changes happening in real time. I personally look forward to seeing how financial services is going to evolve as a result of the sudden disruption we are facing today.