The banking sector isn’t necessarily front of mind when we think about digital transformation, and in key areas of the digital experience they perform close to the average.

However digital innovation promises to connect and engage with consumers like never before.

Banks’ investment in IT has not been transformative

Despite the fact that banks invested $1.8bn on IT in 2013, its transformative effect has been limited.  

According to Simon Andrews of addictive!

Online banking took the paper statement and made it scrollable and with mobile they have just made it a bit smaller.

This is partly due to more conservative mindsets and strict regulation. However, legacy systems also get in the way of getting a complete picture of the banking consumer.

Challenges in remaining relevant and providing added value

Either way, connected consumers are bringing a whole new set of expectations to their interaction with banks. 

And in a competitive marketplace, established players need to innovate to improve relationships, stay relevant and provide added value. 

This was reflected in a new report from Econsultancy and Sitecore, titled ‘Digital Experience: Are Brands Meeting Consumer Expectations?’, which compared customer expectations with marketers’ priorities to understand how well the banking sector was performing in the areas that are perceived to be important by consumers.

Here are some of the issues identified by the report: 

Banks struggle to join up online and offline worlds

According to the research digital marketers in the banking sector perform well around areas such as mobile optimisation, and the ability to achieve an outcome in a ‘few clicks’ – all of which were rated highly by consumers. 

However marketers recorded only average performance around digital attributes such as ‘online activities are taken into account in face-to-face offline communications’ and ‘information presented is relevant to your location’. 

Another important attribute banks performed close to the average on was integrating websites ‘with other touchpoints’ such as social media and payment. 

Marketers in this sector also underperformed around creating ‘moments of delight’ that would make the user want to tell their friends about it.

Customers expect businesses to be structured around them

Building a bridge between retail and digital worlds is proving a significant challenge for many brands and businesses, with customers increasingly expecting businesses to be structured around them. 

Banks are also exploring ways in which they can integrate analytical tools into core banking systems, empowering staff to deliver targeted, more personalised experiences, taking into account the different channels used across the customer journey.

Opportunities from Beacon and wearable technology

One bank that’s often further out ahead in embracing new technology is Barclays, which is trialling beacon technology to personalise the branch experience for disabled customers

Individuals fill out their information online, which in turn triggers a notification as soon as they enter the branch.

According to a recent Econsultancy report ‘A Marketer’s Guide to Wearable Technology’ Barclaycard is also trialling a wristband wallet in London called bPay. 

Going forward wearables have the potential to enable banks to deliver new customer experiences that extend the brand ecosystem. 

Banks have yet to have their iTunes moment – but it’s coming

Technology has already transformed many industries, the music industry being a prime example. 

But banking has yet to have its iTunes moment, but it’s next in line for change as new entrants enter the market unencumbered by legacy systems and silos. 

Its effect could be just as significant as it was for record labels, according to Francisco Gonzalez, Chairman and CEO of BBVA, over the next 20 years we’ll see the world go from 20,000 “analogue” banks to no more than serval dozen ‘digital’ institutions.