Technology Driving Customer Expectations

James Stahley, Senior Vice President - Partnerships, Wells Fargo
James Stahley, Senior Vice President - Partnerships, Wells Fargo

James Stahley, Senior Vice President - Partnerships, Wells Fargo

With technology advancing at an accelerated rate, customers have increasingly heightened expectations. Consumers are “always on” and searching for real-time information, not yesterday’s news. Consumers expect access to their data when, where, and how they want it, even though that may differ by day or device type. They anticipate services should be easy and intuitive, as well as secure. They desire (and may demand) greater control of the services they use to work faster and be more connected.

In banking and payments, examples of growing customer expectations due to technology are everywhere. For businesses, this may translate into even greater control of payables to organize, optimize, and reconcile, or a simpler and easier on boarding process to start accepting payments from consumers immediately with a pricing structure to match. For consumers, this may mean easier ways to setup and monitor recurring payments like news subscriptions or gym memberships, request their bank share data (e.g., purchase history) with approved and trusted providers, or easily provision credit or debit cards to digital wallets to make payments instantly and effortlessly.

In response, financial institutions, fintechs, and others in the payments industry need to be open to new partnerships and integrations as boundaries continue to blur. While providers may have been able to go it alone successfully in the past, customers likely will begin to gravitate to providers who “play well with others” to improve the customer experience in new ways.

For financial institutions like Wells Fargo, it is about bringing the bank to the customer, wherever they are. Customers operate in ‘digital ecosystems,’ or in sets of frequently used apps and websites, where banking needs to be integrated in those experiences and workflows. This may be as simple as scheduling a meeting with the bank or requesting an image of a check, or something more complex, like initiating an international payment. Customers want convenience, and it is important we listen to their needs and deliver tangible value – we start with the mindset that it's not about technology or even fintech. It's about giving our customers information to make better informed financial decisions, and giving them the tools and ability to instantly complete a transaction whenever they want and wherever they are.

For all of us along the payments ecosystem, reducing complexity by making things easier to connect and integrate is a key driver of adoption. An example is the advancements in application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs have been around for years, but the technology has advanced significantly in the past decade, opening up integration opportunities for the broader market. Modern APIs have matured to the point where integrations are simple and turnkey for the developer. With good design, a developer can look at a snippet of API code and know how to use it, cutting integrations from months to weeks and speeding time to market. Standards in the space are developing, and documentation is clear, concise, and comes with code examples and sandboxes in self-service developer portals.

This is helping embed payments in many different digital workflows; for example, accelerated disbursements in an insurance claims flow. When a consumer’s home is damaged by weather, they launch their insurer’s app from their mobile device to file a claim, the claim is processed, and funds are delivered directly to their bank card almost instantaneously, all made possible by a push-to-card API.

The voice of the customer is what is leading us into the future. At Wells Fargo, we are embracing the advancements in technology, all with our customers in mind. For consumers and small business customers, we have introduced Control Tower to help customers more easily view and manage their cards, payments, and data. For businesses and other providers, we have a market-leading API channel with a portfolio of use cases live, and we’re working on more to address customer needs from across the company.

Technology is evolving quickly, but those who listen to customers and adapt have an opportunity to lead and deliver differentiated value to customers. It’s one of the most exciting aspects of the financial services industry today and classic win-win.

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