Banking in 2021: Customers want more than simply a bank
Last year was a huge year for banking. The outbreak of the pandemic has changed the way that people live, work and spend money. National lockdowns have prevented people from being able to visit their local branch and forced consumers to use alternative online methods to manage their finances.
While online services were becoming increasingly popular pre-pandemic – the huge shift in the number of people choosing to bank online in response to social distancing caught many banks off guard. While digital-first banks such as FinecoBank have been prepared since their inception for such high levels of online banking activity, traditional banks struggle.
During such a time of uncertainty, it needs to be every bank’s priority to provide consistent and reliable service to all of their customers. Unfortunately, this year we have seen many of the big traditional banks suffer operational outages on their websites and mobile applications – leaving customers frustrated and unable to access their savings.
The challenges that the banking industry faced demonstrated the need for banks to prioritise complete digital transformation. We are witnessing changes in consumer expectations. The standards are getting higher as customers looking for enhanced flexibility and increased personalisation in banking products. Banks must strive to strike the right balance between digital and human interactions when it comes to service delivery.
What does 2021 hold for banking?
We believe that there will be a second revolution in the banking industry. As more banks enter the market, it will become more important for banks to clearly demonstrate their unique value proposition to customers. The age of enticing large numbers of clients simply through eye-popping switching offers is over. Functionality and overall value will reign supreme. The consolidated model – where more and more services are offered by a single provider – should surge in popularity. The ability to offer quality trading, investments, and payment services in the same application will be popular. It’s increasingly evident people want to do more than simply bank at their bank.
Fineco is an example of a bank that has already expanded to offer trading services and access to a wide range of funds - at a much lower price than its competitors. We expect this ‘one-stop-shop-solution’ will become more desirable in 2021 - especially following the increase in the number of people that have started trading and investing during the lockdown.
Since it is highly unlikely that consumers will revert back to their old preferences for in-branch banking, traditional banks must continue to digitalise all of their services whilst meeting increasing online demand.
To achieve this, banks must invest more in their IT infrastructure. At Fineco, over 20% of our staff are employed in IT. We place a huge focus on ensuring our online platforms can withstand high market volatility and increased volumes. We are very proud that Fineco did not suffer any operational outages this year, meaning that none of our trading and investment customers missed out during the big market rallies this year.
Consolidated applications. Tailored products. A better experience. In the banking industry it’s becoming clear that the real winner of next year will be the customer.
Origami raises £20mn in Series C round led by Barclays PLC
The investment, which saw Barclays take the lead as part of the bank’s Sustainable Impact Capital initiative, is geared to back companies that specialise in sustainability and working towards zero carbon emissions.
Additional investors in the round were Origami’s existing shareholders, Octopus Ventures, Aggreko, and Cambridge Innovation Capital.
Origami green technology
The Cambridge-based technology company which was founded in 2013, is on a mission to build a green energy world powered by smart technology. It's green energy initiatives focus on transitions to renewables, energy systems, smart and real-time digital solutions.
Origami's trading and automation software currently provides power traders with real-time data and machine-learning decision support tools to reduce risk, improve visibility and capture valuable opportunities within new and rapidly evolving energy markets.
This new investment will enable the startup to improve its products, serve a growing customer base and scale up for international markets. The success of the funding round, said Origami executives, highlights the increasing investor appetite to back leading tech companies pursuing the reduction of global carbon emissions.
Green energy technology
Peter Bance, CEO, Origami, explained, “This investment recognises that with powerful real-time software solutions underpinning our emerging green energy systems, tackling the world's greatest threat of climate change can also become the world's greatest commercial opportunity.
“Barclays shares our vision and has a broad customer base in the UK and internationally, which includes many energy businesses. I am looking forward to working with them to help achieve our ambitious goals.”
As part of its broader commitments, Barclays has pledged to invest £175m of its own capital, led by the Principal Investments team, in fast-growing, environmentally-focused companies whose values are aligned with those of Barclays and which target the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.
Speaking about the Origami investment drive, Steven Poulter, Head of Principal Structuring and Investments, Barclays, said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that powerful digital solutions, like Origami’s, are critical enablers for maximising the potential of green energy assets such as renewables, batteries, and EVs.”
He added, “Their technology is essential for a successful and timely transition to a low-carbon economy, and the opportunity for Barclays to partner with such a compelling business in the world-class Cambridge Greentech ecosystem is an exciting prospect.”
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