Banking on Digital: Financial services – our digital hero

By Mike Sewart | 17 February 2015

Digital services have never had more of an impact on our lives than today. Whether it is shopping online, paying for your road tax online, or collaborating with global colleagues, digital services are now part of everyday live and the emergence of new smart technologies is accelerating this trend.

This is especially apparent within the financial services industry. From the news that 2.2 million Britons aged over 70 are turning to online banking, to the development of social media banks – digital services are making payments and other financial services much easier and more efficient and consumers are not shy in taking advantage. This month alone we have seen Google roll out a new feature in the UK that allows Gmail users transfer money to family and friends over email. This is a good example of how a non-financial services brand has identified how digitally-confident consumers are when it comes to financial services and are keen to take a slice of the market.

To explore this growing innovation in more detail, Fujitsu undertook research to compare the performance of organisations across different industry sectors to see just how well they are delivering on digital. The research indicated that the UK is becoming a ‘digital-first’ nation, with more than a quarter of us always using digital services when given the chance.

Whilst the financial sector rarely leads when it comes to consumer opinion polls, it is the leading force when it comes to digital services. Online banking took the top slot for both most valued and most used (67% and 63% respectively) digital service of all sectors, proving the sector is meeting the high demands of its customers. In addition to this, the report also revealed that financial digital services are considered the most important in the day-to-day lives of consumers (62%), while nearly two-thirds are satisfied with the digital services provided by FS companies (64%).

As digital and technology services continue to have an effect on our lives, it is clear that confidence is growing amongst Brits as they get to grips with digital services. According to Fujitsu, nearly two thirds (63%) of consumers are comfortable with the digital services offered to them by organisations overall.

However there are still many barriers when it comes to adopting digital services in the UK. Although financial services was the clear winner in this research, many were quick to point out the areas where they would like to see improvement, with Local Government (24%) and Central Government (20%) named as the two key sectors that need to improve quickly. This report also revealed that nearly 40% of us want the UK to make faster digital progress and that over a third of us still prefer, at times, to talk to a real person.

The answer is having the right balance. Consumers value digital services because of improved channels of engagement which make interactions simpler and more efficient. However, it is still apparent that many consumers remain more comfortable with dealing with humans rather than technology for certain interactions such as discussing sensitive information, or complex topics that don’t have a binary answer. But while technology may not be able to replicate every element of the human-to-human customer experience, “digital first” seems to be an increasingly apt way of describing our relationships with the businesses and organisations around us.

As the digital and technology landscape continues to develop, there are more ways than ever to innovatively interact and engage with organisations. However, making sense of where to start, what systems to modernise and what systems to transform is a hugely complex challenge for organisations. It requires a holistic approach to transformation ensuring investment is spent in the right areas as opposed to a reactive tactical digital solutions based on consumer demands. But while some organisations still have a long way to go, digital first is increasingly becoming a way to describe relationships between organisations and consumers making it critical that organisations have strategies in place to leverage digital services in the most balanced way for their customers.

 

By Mike Sewart, Director of Digital Services, CTO Business & Application Services in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu