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What Banking Customers Want in 2020: Mobile & Global

This new decade is no different, as 2020 brings a slew of customer demands to address present-day challenges.

The needs of financial customers change over time, which means features that were important to users a few years ago – like the number of physical locations or an emphasis on the in-branch experience – aren’t necessarily their top concern anymore. For example, when online banking first launched, financial institutions had to entice their hesitant customers to give it a try while today it’s the reverse, with users pushing businesses to expand digital capabilities. This new decade is no different, as 2020 brings a slew of customer demands to address present-day challenges.

It’s probably no surprise to community banks and credit unions that mobile banking usage is growing among both personal and business customers. What might raise eyebrows is the fact that most community banks don’t have an app while larger financial institutions are investing heavily in mobile operations. Though credit unions and community banks may have a slimmer budget for these ventures, customers of all ages increasingly view their smartphones as a vital tool in their banking experience.

In fact, because so many businesses have an online presence, it’s not enough for a financial institution to simply maintain a basic digital environment. According to a recent study, clients want mobile offerings that address their most in-demand service requirements, one of which is international payments.

Of course, a number of credit unions and community banks do offer foreign exchange and international transactions. Yet too often this is only available through in-branch visits. Historically, trips to these locations have served as a core part of a financial institution’s brand as such organizations may be known for strong, personalized customer service. Yet these types of physical interactions are met with a desire for a hybrid banking experience, both personalized service and the ability to self serve common transactions, as smartphone usage explodes. One estimate suggests that the vast majority of all banking interactions will shift to mobile in the next five years.

While concerns such as these are understandable, it is possible for branches and mobile tech to successfully coexist. Though many financial institutions have reduced their physical locations in recent years, other banking brands have opted to open hundreds of new locations during the same period. How is this possible? While branches are undergoing some major changes, mobile doesn’t necessarily mean their end. Surprisingly,  60% of customers, prefer a combination of online self-serve and in-branch banking. A significantly smaller amount lists face-to-face contact as their top priority. In fact, recent data shows that smaller financial institutions are losing customers to big banks specifically because of their limited mobile offerings, and this reality is affecting both their customer satisfaction and profits.

Still, many choose to limit their international payment offerings to their branch. This could prove to be a detrimental decision. One of the major draws of smartphone access for financial transactions is convenience. Business owners who wish to pay foreign invoices or send funds abroad likely value the option for its ease. Enabling the self-service route saves time and allows entrepreneurs greater flexibility.

Plus, a growing percentage of companies, even small businesses, have overseas suppliers and vendors, making on-the-go payment options even more of a necessity. Some community banks and credit unions might be wary of moving traffic online, fearing it could devalue their unique personalized approach.

While community banks and credit unions may be understandably cautious of operational changes, a lack of digital investment can wind up damaging business prospects and future success. Embracing both mobile capabilities and international payments can help retain existing customers – not to mention snag new ones.