COVID-19 And Its Impact On Financial Institutions

COVID-19 And Its Impact On Financial Institutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected daily life and slowed down the global economy. It has affected a number of industries and banking institutions have also taken a big hit. The outbreak has even brought about a change in consumer behavior like never before.

Since the start of this global health crisis, the consumer demand for digital banking has increased to a large extent. Organizations that were delaying digital transformation efforts have been caught flat-footed, without the ability to deliver on a positive customer experience.

Banking services are often discounted in the minds of a consumer. The only time that banking services come to the fore is when there is a financial need or they are facing a crisis. It has become more apparent than ever before for banks to deliver solutions that are tailored to each individual customer, that will also help in building trust and brand loyalty in these instances.

Coronavirus challenges traditional banking

As the economic fallout continues to spread, banks are juggling some big priorities that require concrete measures for the present while also recalibrating for the future. The banks are working to keep distribution channels open, despite the social distancing norms and compliance functions that were not designed for remote work. But in conditions of social distancing, consumers will now slot banks as ones they can use without leaving home and ones where they would rather close their accounts.

Fueling the movement of digital banking

Government agencies and banks are anticipating this obvious shift towards digital banking and are taking relevant measures. Many banks across the world have started setting up processes to increase online banking, telephone banking and call center services, in addition to remote working.

Even after the pandemic dies down, digital transformation of banks will be relevant as customers are increasingly adopting digital channels, and will learn how to conduct banking without physical interaction.

While most banks have been on their digital transformation journey, in most cases it was limited to a customer facing digital layer. The new challenge has enhanced the need for a more holistic approach. The digitalization will start with providing an ever-evolving customer experience, followed by digitizing middle and back office operations. Support functions will be automated into intelligent workflows. According to the World FinTech Report 2020 released by CapGemini, in order to maintain a strong competitive foothold and appeal to consumers, banks should prioritize middle- and back-end transformation through data-driven approach and a keen focus on customer-centric partnerships with FinTechs, resulting in an improved front-end[1].

Delivering on this requires powerful technologies like cloud, automation, blockchain and artificial intelligence. The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect opportunity for banks to start their journey to grow into a cognitive enterprise.

With many banks making it possible for their employees to work from remote locations, digitization will be the future which will help banks to maneuver the current and post COVID-19 world. A report by Gartner, in which 317 CFOs and Finance leaders were surveyed, 74% stated that at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce will be working remotely post COVID-19[2].

Restoration steps in the time of COVID-19

While trying to manage revenue and customer expectations, despite growing pressure on customers and near-zero interest rates, banks also need to keep an eye on strategy and brand issues for the future.

There are plenty of steps that banks can take to support customers while balancing their long-term positioning.

  • Innovation for enhanced customer experience: Many banks are now switching to digital mediums to interact with their customers. For instance, to cater to loan applications, banks have had to realign their risk assessment policies. They are making use of digital platforms to complete KYC processes. The CapGemini report also states that 48% of new-age customers (such as the tech-savvy Generation Y) are displeased with the narrow range of products and services offered by their traditional banks. This is a major factor propelling them to switch to new-age banking institutions that provide the services they seek. [3]
  • Cost optimization: With a decrease in financial transactions, banks are optimizing costs by streamlining processes, and uncovering new savings and efficiencies
  • Operational resilience: There is an extreme paradigm shift towards digitization beyond customer interface, and an increase focus on backend operations and transforming processes to intelligent workflows

The future of banking post COVID-19

  • Embrace neo technologies: It is important for banking institutions to adopt cloud computing, AI and blockchain, as they play a critical role in the digital transformation of banks
  • Channels of digitization: With increased mobile penetration and internet access, the primary focus is to accelerate technology enabled digital financial inclusion. The business should also focus on creating a gradual shift in customer preference in visiting banks branches to using digital channels
  • Security, privacy and customer trust: With a burgeoning emphasis on a cashless and digital economy, it will be important for banks to implement secure frameworks and systems. Some of the measures to ensure security is through rigorous KYC processes, strong customer authentication, firewalls and smarter networks
  • Compliance and policy: There will be an increased focus on digital payment infrastructure, with an intention to create a financial ecosystem for the underbanked or unbanked population. Banks must keep in mind the personal data protection policies of the economies that they operate in, and chart out suitable measures to ensure that these rules are complied with.

The COVID-19 impact on the global financial systems has been phenomenal and multifold. It is important for banks to take the long view and prioritize accordingly. Resilience, driven by digital agility is a way for banks to remain relevant and successful on the other side post COVID-19. And in order to achieve this digital agility, it is important for banks to select the right partner to provide these solutions.