Monday, 19th October 2020

COVID-19 has forced more than three-quarters of banks to change their future banking strategy

The banking industry faces a watershed moment, with banks re-evaluating strategies and accelerating plans to digitally transform.

Marqeta, the global modern card issuing platform, has released a report that examines how banks intend to change their strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the findings, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on almost all (96%) European banks, with over three-quarters (78%) planning to change their future banking strategy to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour, such as the accelerated adoption of digital banking services and cashless payments.

The study of 200 banking executives found that, as a result of growing demand for digital services, 80% of banks have accelerated their plans to digitally transform. Banks also predicted that digital transformation projects will need to be delivered in two-thirds (69%) of the time, with 89% saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically increased the speed of change in banking from years to months. The study also found that:

  • Three quarters (75%) of banks “weren’t prepared” for the scale of change that COVID-19 has triggered in consumer behaviour.
  • 88% of banks were overwhelmed by the demand for online and mobile banking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, banks say that digitally transforming to improve the online and mobile banking experience (76%), offering new, differentiated payments services (70%), investing in security and anti-fraud solutions (70%) and modernising core banking and payment platforms (66%) have all increased in priority.

“The future of banking has come around quicker than most expected. The onset of COVID-19 accelerated many trends in consumer behaviour, with more people moving away from cash and adopting digital services such as online and mobile banking,” comments Ian Johnson, Managing Director Europe at Marqeta. “These are all trends that were set to slowly change over time and banks would gradually transform to adapt. But COVID-19 has drastically moved up the timescales, with 36% of banks saying COVID-19 has “opened up the floodgates” to modernising core banking and payment systems. Attitudes to modernisation have clearly changed. Banks are now speeding up efforts to transform because they know that the winners of the next age of banking will be determined by who can best adjust their strategy to adapt to the new normal.”

Future banking strategies are changing

Over three quarters (76%) of banks say that the impact of COVID-19 has meant that the business models they used to follow have changed forever. As part of their future banking strategy, more than half (54%) of banks plan to reduce their physical branch network. Banks are also set to increase the number of digital services offered in branch (72%), the provision of specialist payment services (68%), their investment in digital banking and services (66%) and their digital innovation capabilities (61%).

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 92% of banks say that innovation has become more important than ever. When it comes to innovation, banks say they need to:

  • Improve their use of data analytics to gain insights into customers that will allow them to make lending decisions in real-time (91%)
  • Improve their technology capabilities to better use contextual data to make judgements on fraud as transactions are being processed (91%)
  • Implement technology and processes that enable them to control what loans are spent on (90%)

Banks have to change quickly, or risk falling behind.

With COVID-19 driving a broad shift in consumer behaviors and adoption of new technology, all banks surveyed acknowledged plans to increase investment in tokenized card technology and modern card programs and said that the dangers of not being able to keep up were real. A significant portion (38%) said that without innovation in payments they would be unable to scale their existing services to offer new features and capabilities, while more than a third (34%) said they feared losing market share to competitors.

“COVID-19 has ushered in a new age of digital banking. Banks need to ensure they are prepared to adapt for this world, and many are set to double down on digital services and capabilities. But to do this, they need to overhaul legacy technologies that don’t provide the agility required to respond to the needs of the market. To adapt and thrive, traditional banks need to be supported with modern core banking and payment platforms that can support the requirement to digitally transform and provide the flexibility needed for their future banking strategies,” concludes Johnson.

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