We’re now seeing the first generation of ‘digital natives’, people who can’t fathom a time when the internet didn’t exist. The wave of developments in the tech industry has completely revolutionized the banking industry. Think about it: when was the last time you deposited a check? Or spoken to a bank teller in person?
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It’s no surprise that banks are closing branches left, right, and center, opting to invest in their online solutions instead. On average, people will bank in person once or twice a year. But they access their online banking about once per day. And there’s only one way this trend is going.
In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of recently added online banking features that are transforming the industry, developments that are in the pipeline you can expect to see in the future, and, without aiming to scare you, some of the things you have to watch out for.
The Current Perks
Developments in digital have put the keys in the hands of the user. The array of perks available to those using online banking solutions are multiple. Here are our favorite ‘can’t live without ‘em’ digital banking perks.
Managing Your Account Using an App
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Forecasts show that people are turning to their smartphones or tablets to manage their banking affairs. In the UK, for example, it’s thought that 72% will manage their accounts via an app by 2023.
It’s easy to see why. Banks have joined the app game in droves, with users now able to easily transfer funds, pay bills, manage their spending and savings goals, and ensure they never pay late fees using notifications. You’re still doing the same stuff you used to do at a branch, but now you can do it sitting at home in your pajamas.
Isn’t it annoying when you lose out on savings interest just because you’ve forgotten to transfer money between accounts? Even with online banking, most of us are just a little too lazy to do this on a daily basis.
Automatic transfers, which some banks call ‘sweep technology’, allow customers to transfer money from their checking accounts to their savings without having to do anything. Using pre-set limits, this type of account features the automatic transfer of funds. Other features that are automated include the payment of bills, transferring money according to specific savings goals, and ensuring you never enter the ‘red’ zone.
Higher Interest, Lower Fees
This isn’t a techie point, but it’s definitely related. With technology increasingly taking the spotlight, branches are becoming increasingly rare. This means lower operational costs, as it’s cheaper to build an online banking service than renting or buying real estate and paying staff members.
Online banking is also becoming so competitive, with new banks cropping up all the time, that lower fees and higher interest rates are becoming a common occurrence, post-recession. We expect this trend to continue going forward, with banks desperate to sign you up as a customer.
What Will the Future Bring?
The features of digital today are already quite cool. But there’s more to come. These are some online banking features we expect to see in the very near future.
Pay Friends Easily
You go out for a meal with a bunch of friends. It’s a great time until the bill arrives. The simple task of paying what you owe becomes a gargantuan operation that leaves you wishing you’d stayed at home.
No longer. Banks such as Monzo allows you to split a bill with just a few clicks of their banking app. We like the way they’ve put it: IOU’s will soon be a forgotten relic of the past. Note: we’ve put this in the ‘future’ section as Monzo is just one of a few banks to offer this kind of tech, but we expect to see it as standard very soon.
Building Your Credit Score
Banks are now thinking of ways in which your credit score can be ‘integrated’ with your bank account. It means that you can actively build on your score using recommendations from your banking app, for example. Not exactly digitally amazing, but very useful nonetheless.
Manage Your Banking via Social Media?
We’re not sure we’re huge fans of this one, but Facebook has been approaching banks to offer integration. Using their Messenger app, the social media giant is looking to position itself between the bank and the customer.
You can already see this happening in other industries. Companies such as KLM hand out their boarding passes using the service, for example. While we can see a range of benefits, we’re not sure we like Facebook being the company to lead the way. The tech seems like a good potential solution for terrible customer service, however.
Anything to Worry About?
So far it’s been a singing and dancing list of pros, but digital banking ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are a couple of things that worry us just a tiny bit.
Who Will Pay?
We’ve mentioned Monzo a couple of times. We love, love, love their features. But banks like Monzo and its counterpart Starling are struggling. They’re running at huge losses, putting everything they can in feature development and getting a bit of traction in a competitive market.
You can now bank for free, use a bunch of super useful online features, and for many people, foreign withdrawals are 100% free. But how long will it last? It’s speculated that what you don’t pay in charges and interest, you’ll be paying for in data. Will your personal data go on sale? Will seeing annoying ads become commonplace?
With most people going digital, we’ve seen a massive increase in data breaches. We don’t really have to worry about bank robbers such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but we now have to worry about those that lurk in the shadows: hackers.
In late 2018, for example, we saw HSBC suffer a data breach, with a small number of accounts compromised. But this isn’t necessarily the biggest worry. Hackers are often getting customer data from other, less well-protected companies. The data is then used to commit fraud and identity theft.
We’ve ended our piece on online banking with a few scary warnings, but don’t worry: it’s not going to be Armageddon anytime soon. Banks and techies are spending millions of dollars in security, with breaches to banks themselves a rarity. And with most people becoming tech-savvy as standard, tricking someone into a scam won’t be quite as easy.