Covid has changed so much in our lives. In-person catch ups became Zoom calls. Kitchen tables became desks. Shopping became a few clicks. So, it’s no surprise, then, that the banking industry was particularly challenged during the pandemic and, more specifically lockdowns. With local branches shut and certain services revoked, it meant that many customers couldn’t access their accounts in a manner that suited them.
This was particularly relevant in the case of older demographics who perhaps had never used online or telephone banking services and were wary of doing so. The traditional, face-to-face approach in a branch was their preferred method.
So, how has the banking industry changed as a result of Covid? And how will this impact customers?
There’s the obvious increase of people downloading banking apps in order to make credit card payments or move money into savings accounts, being unable to do so in branch. But more than this, banks are offering Zoom appointments to offer customers access to things such as loans or mortgage services. With more banks set to close their physical branches in the year ahead, providing online alternatives is going to be of increasing importance. These options, in turn, should retain the personal feel of in-branch services. No customer wants to feel like a number in a queue.
With the increase in online banking and apps comes the need for better security and compliance. As more customers store personal information and account details with their banks, it’s critical that the protection and security in place is robust. Customers need to feel like they can trust their bank and be protected from attempts at fraud or hacking.
Some cynics would argue that ethical banking is an oxymoron. However, it’s going to be increasingly important if banks are to secure more customers. People do not want to place their money with a bank that seems greedy or profits orientated. They want to bank with an organisation that is going to help them make smart financial decisions – especially as we all face down rising costs.
The end of cash?
Many businesses did not accept cash during the pandemic, preferring online or card payments for the sake of hygiene. So, are we phasing cash out? The short answer is no. Whilst we are tapping our cards and buying online more often – and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming increasingly prevalent – there are no current plans to get rid of physical currency. That being said, the use of cash did decline by almost 60% during the pandemic. So it may well be something that happens in the near future.
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