Computing is evolving again. An important shift is happening from “Mobile first” to “AI first”.
Mobiles & smart phones fundamentally changed user interaction models. Customer expectations changed dramatically, thanks to the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. Banks needed to re-imagine their products considering new customer journeys and enhanced user expectations of multi-touch, location, identify, payments and so on.
In last couple of years, there had been a huge push for digital across financial services. Banks needed to re-imagine their products and services keeping customers at the centre of design, i.e. adopting a customer centric approach to design and innovation. Understanding needs, goals and motivations of end customer was extremely important to design and deliver a product or service that is at par with their expectation and experience of using other mobile applications such as Facebook and Google.
Most of the banks built their mobile banking app that provided customers with an ability to view their account information, make payments, transfer money to other accounts and manage their account. However, very few of them were able to re-imagine entire suite of their product and service offering, e.g. new account opening, know you customer (KYC), loans, cards, investment advisory and cross border remittance.
These gaps were ably exploited by neo FinTech banks such as Monzo, Atom, Starling, Nutmeg, Transferwise, Revolute and Square. It only took 96 secs for Monzo to raise £1M on a crowdfunding platform! This goes to show that customers were willing to try alternate options. Banks need to move fast.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai hosted his second Google I/O this year. It was announced that Google is moving from "Mobile first" to "AI first" approach. And, they are doing this across their products. So today, if you’re using Google Maps, street view automatically recognizes restaurant signs, street signs, using machine learning. They are re-imagining their entire suite of products. They want AI and machine learning to form the basis of all their products and services.
As with every platform shift, how users interact with computing changes. Mobile brought multi-touch. We evolved beyond keyboard and mouse. Similarly, we now have voice and vision as two new important system for computing. Humans are interacting with computing in more natural and immersive ways. Amazon Echo (Alexa) and Google Home have found their ways into daily lives.
A lot of us are using voice as an input across many products. That’s because computers are getting much better at understanding speech. Deep learning is playing a major role in improving the quality of understanding speech. Similar to speech, great improvements are being made to computer vision. As per Google, their computer vision systems now, for the task of image recognition, are even better than humans.
What does all this change mean to financial services? It means another shift in customer expectations. There will soon be new user interaction models. Technology companies will move fast and create customer experience that will be difficult for banks to match. While there is a greater sense of urgency in Banks to collaboration with FinTechs and be agile to move swiftly with the changing customer expectations, they need to start making the shift from Mobile first thinking to AI first approach to leap frog competition.
Some banks have started to use AI and machine learning solutions to automate manual effort intensive tasks. For e.g. a number of banks (DBS, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, American Express, Capital One, etc.) have built their own chatbots / virtual assistant solution. Similarly, JPMorgan Chase has invested in technology to create contract intelligence (COiN) platform.
However, Banks are yet to take a step back, re-imagine their entire suite of products and services using AI first approach. The sooner they do this, the faster they can leap frog competition and create products and services meeting customer expectations. The big question is, "can they do this before a new FinTech challenger doing it?