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Opinion > HTB

Embracing new forms of technology

Stuart Hulme, director of savings and marketing at Hampshire Trust Bank | 07:27 Wednesday 29th August 2018

The UK financial services industry, and banking in particular, has undergone radical reform in the last 10 years.

Retail banks have re-purposed themselves to focus on the customer. New and tougher regulations (and regulators) now govern the City of London. Indeed, having worked in banking for over 20 years, I can safely say that today’s industry is unrecognisable when compared to 2008.

The question currently being considered by many market commenters is this: what’s next for banking? It’s certainly an apt and timely question to ask. After all, it was in the autumn of 2008 that the financial crisis really took hold of banking and financial services in the UK. Further change is, however, afoot. Disruptive forces, whether technological or from competitors, are reshaping banking, creating an imperative for further change. Banks of all sizes, including ourselves, will need to decide whether to lead the change or to remain stationary. It’s of course worth noting at this point that the success or otherwise of Open Banking, as well as the outcome of Brexit negotiations, may have some immediate bearing on this imperative.

In the long term, however, banks will still need to rise to the challenge and embrace new technologies, whatever these may be. Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, for example, have proved hugely successful because they offer customers a real-time, personalised service. In the last decade, banks have, to their credit, responded to this challenge by investing more in online banking and, for instance, apps for smart phones. Many customers can, at a touch of a button, access their bank statements, send money, request loans and much more.

Put simply, customers now demand real time banking, at their fingertips. However, expect further technological change.  Combined with evolving customer behaviour and expectations, banks will need to meet this challenge and, crucially, use digital well. Moreover, fintech firms and large tech companies have started to capture much more of the banking value chain in areas such as payments. Arguably, these new entrants could threaten the dominance of banking but may also force banks to further raise their game. Banks will need to be at the forefront of technology, ensuring that emerging customer needs and lifestyle demands are engrained in every offering. They need to understand what’s possible, where the latest technology innovations are, what systems can deliver them, and what should be pursued.  

As a specialist bank, we are constantly looking to evolve in order to meet customer needs. Despite the emergence of new competitors and models, we believe that traditional banking has a strong future so long as banks are prepared to innovate and embrace new forms of technology to meet customer expectations.

 

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