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Opinion > Fidor

How social media can fuel the future of banking

Ge Drossaert, board member and group chief commercial officer at Fidor | 18:42 Tuesday 26th February 2019

It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago social media was yet to become a truly global phenomenon — and smartphones had only just been introduced to the mass market, a lot has since changed.

Today both are playing an increasingly central role in day-to-day life.

This dramatic shift has resulted in a simple but profound challenge that banks face in the digital age: relevance. The starting gun has fired and the early signs are already here, as bank branch networks shrink and ‘cashless’ societies take shape. And in the age of the smartphone/social media duopoly, how can banks remain relevant?

Scratching the surface

The sheer scale and proportion of people spending time online has already driven near-consensus on one thing: being present is the bare minimum. 

Most financial institutions — some grudgingly — have built and invested in their digital presence, including on the major social networks. These early efforts have centred around tick-box aspects of the marketing function — most commonly for promoting ongoing campaigns, broadcasting important news and using it as an additional customer service channel.

Yet, this is barely scratching the surface of what we’ll see in the future. The opportunities beyond this are vast. We can expect financial providers to radically rethink their approach to social media, and apply a deeper logic than using it simply as a basic marketing tool.

So how do banks truly harness the power of social media?

A bank built with you

From the latest product launch hitting the market to the company’s annual customer conference, it’s become commonplace for businesses to share news and reach their customers in a fairly one-dimensional way. But banks have a rare opportunity to go far beyond this and begin creating deeper connections with customers with the help of marketplaces and real-time analytics. 

Every update that a customer shares via various channels can offer a rare window into their identity; the people and brands they interact with, the way they see the world and their values as a customer. When you combine these with the deep insights we’ll begin to see leading marketplaces have access to — which will focus around our purchase patterns, preferences and potential interests — the understanding banks will have of their customers becomes deeper and more meaningful than ever before. With their permission, banks will begin to build astoundingly detailed personal profiles of each and every customer based on these multiple, connected sources of data.

Of course, banks will also be able to build their own social communities. At Fidor, we have seen the benefits first-hand with an engaged community of a million members informing every decision we make — from the values we share to the products we offer — all harmoniously integrated through one digital ecosystem.

A banking experience built for you

It is not just the banks who stand to win by enhancing their social media presence — consumers do too. 

By investing in quality application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing one service to connect to the underlying infrastructure via a dashboard, for example, banks will be able to offer a vastly improved customer experience.

Existing customers will see relevant, timely, potentially even bespoke products that are built around their financial needs — not the other way around. With services and data connected together, we could well see more transactions powered by financial providers, but through the primary UX interface of a social network. It’s not hard to imagine more payment providers integrating with these platforms, removing friction from financial transactions and providing value to everyone.

There will be other ways to improve customer experience, too. Sophisticated chatbots, synced-up with a social media profile of choice, could make a huge difference. Deploying state-of-the-art bots across social channels would help users get instant responses to any queries they may have — queries which can then be stored and registered to build out a greater profile of that customer’s preferences. 

With so many possibilities and disruptors building this new financial ecosystem, it’s hard to predict exactly how things will shape up in 20 years’ time. But one thing is clear: the fundamental role of a bank isn’t going to change. They must remain trustworthy, secure and smart at finding new ways to bring value to customers’ financial lives. And with the integration of smartphones and social media into that mix, they’ll play that role in a more connected way than ever before

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