The past 18 months has drastically changed the financial journeys of millions of consumers, and banks and credit unions have been busy implementing changes to enhance their role as financial wellness advisors for their customers and members. Much of this interaction was already happening through digital channels, but the pandemic has greatly accelerated this shift.
In a competitive financial services landscape like we see today, institutions are looking for ways to amplify their digital presence and stand out amongst their competition in order to retain existing customers and members and attract new ones. Finding themselves in a race to market, FIs are now evaluating how best to develop and launch new products and services digitally.
Large and small institutions alike are now considering whether they should “buy” or “build.” In many cases, FIs are leveraging low-code/no-code, embedded technology that provides cost-effective, pre-built solutions that leverage open APIs to easily integrate with an institution’s existing digital banking platform. This “plug and play” technology eliminates many of the traditional friction points – time, cost, trained implementation teams – that institutions typically run into when launching full-scale solutions.
What this means for financial institutions is that they now have the ability to listen to their customers and members and react more quickly in providing products and services that they need right now. The reality today is that consumers have come to expect a convenient, seamless digital experience – think Amazon, Google and Siri – in every aspect of their lives, so why should their banking experience be any different?
While megabanks have seemingly unlimited resources to offer new products and digital services, community financial institutions must find ways to digitally evolve and keep pace. The key lies in innovative solutions that easily fit into their existing technology infrastructure and native experience and that add meaningful value to their customers’ and members’ lives. It is also good business as Cornerstone Advisors shared in a recent Forbes article that “banks can create new revenue streams from new products and services already created by fintech startups—a strategy called embedded fintech.”
With the roster of fintechs seemingly growing by the day, where should FIs start? By evaluating potential partners and asking how does this help my institution create longer-lasting, more profitable relationships with consumers?
Start with programs that generate immediate benefit for customers and members – ones that clearly demonstrate the institution’s value as a financial wellness partner. Technology is providing financial institutions with the ability to step beyond of the role of financial advisor and into the role of a true financial advocate. By integrating embedded fintech solutions into their customers’ banking experience, institutions can expand their relationships with their customers or members by saving them time and money.
It’s no secret that most Americans are overpaying for their monthly bills, but few realize to what extent, with the average U.S. household spending $47 per month on streaming services alone, not counting other monthly subscriptions. The reality is that most regularly recurring bills (cable, internet, mobile phone, alarm systems, gym memberships, etc.) are from providers who have plenty of competition in the market, which provides room for negotiation. Most consumers simply lack the available time or energy to contact each provider to manage those negotiations or know how to do that without sacrificing their current level of service. FIs can use embedded technology to offer customers and members the ability to easily outsource this task (along with others like subscription management) – without ever leaving their banking app.
Having these types of services embedded directly into a financial institution’s native banking platform helps the financial institution increase customer and member engagement and loyalty while driving non-interest-based income as well. Embracing these low-code, embedded options can help banks and credit unions deepen the consumer-financial institution relationship while also supporting a direct ROI by offering to redirect those savings back to into the customer’s savings or retirement account, further growing deposits and creating relevant cross-sell opportunities.
Consumers and businesses have demonstrated their adaptability over the past year – from remote officing to telemedicine to e-commerce and e-delivery – and those same expectations apply to their financial services providers. Embracing true digital transformation can be difficult for institutions of any size, but the strides being made in API-enabled, embedded fintech is creating an environment where the only barrier to innovation today is the institution’s own level of creativity and initiative.
About the Author: Steven McKean is the co-founder of ApexEdge, a partner-enablement platform that offers monthly bill and subscription management solutions to support the financial health of consumers. For more information, visit www.apexedge.com.