What the Digital Banking industry thinks will happen in 2021: Part 1

By Aisling Finn on Wednesday 23 December 2020

FeaturesDigital Banking

Following an unprecedented year, we asked digital banking leaders what they think will happen in the next 12 months.

What the Digital Banking industry thinks will happen in 2021: Part 1
Image source: Aditya Chinchure/Unsplash

The team here at AltFi have given you our predictions for what will happen in 2021 for Digital Banking, but what do people in the industry think 2021 will hold?

Read our predictions on Digital Wealth, Alternative Lending and Digital Banking here.

For Part 1 of this article today, we asked digital bankers to look into their crystal balls and predict what will happen in the challenger banking space in 2021 and for Part 2, coming next week, we’ve asked other leaders from the wider fintech industry what they think is coming up for digital banking.

Without further ado, and straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s what the top digital bankers think will happen in 2021.

Everyone’s going digital and we’re ready for it 

By Anne Boden, CEO and founder of Starling Bank

2020 has been a transformational year for Starling, and we’re still on track to become the first digital challenger bank to break even before the end of the year. 

We have ridden the wave of the pandemic by being flexible and listening harder than ever before to the needs of our customers. These are two learnings alongside our ever-growing first-class team which we will take into 2021 and ensure that we never slow down, never stop listening and always keep evolving.

The pandemic has driven a shift to digital across all walks of life and fintech should be best positioned for this. This should be the time when they can make a profit. This will be the real test for business models.

The seven stages of fintech in 2021

By Mark Mullen, CEO and co-founder of Atom Bank

  1. All banks, old and new, large and small are digitalising and all of them will accelerate their digitalisation programmes–“faster” they cry as they board up their branches!

  2. We’ll return to the same old paradoxical argument in favour of consolidation and M&A; Big buys small. Big gets bigger. Bigger delivers mediocre outcomes for all stakeholders groups. Everyone furrows their brows, scratches their heads and wonders what to do about it.

  3. If algorithms can outperform chess grandmasters then they can also outperform stock-pickers and financial advisors. The rise of the personal robo-advisor is inexorable (and so it ought to be).

  4. The combination of Google and MoneySupermarket already own access to savings, pretty soon they’ll try to own access to everything else. Banking and financial services are just circles within circles.

  5. There is no benign imperative behind industrial data harvesting—there’s always a human being at the end of it who can probably get by quite well without the thing you’re trying to flog them. 

  6. When it comes to money, there’ll still be a bright future for anything that’s fast, simple, good value, transparent, secure and reliable.

  7. Social media will continue to provide loudspeakers for liars and haters—cos obvs they need all the help they can get.

SMEs will turn to alternative banking providers 

By Vaidas Adomauskas, head of Revolut Business

We saw online purchases increasing this year and, as a result of Covid-19, we expect to see a further shift away from cash transactions to online transactions. SMEs are likely to be on the lookout for an offering that will allow business owners to manage business finances completely online, across web and mobile, in these changing times.

So, we may see SMEs decide upon a borderless global banking provider that allows them to collect and move money around quickly and easily, rather than a local financial provider.

Open banking will be more widely adopted 

By Joshua Fernandes, product owner of open banking at Revolut

From an Open Banking perspective, there will be increased use of open APIs, especially as more information flows through these APIs. 

Open Data will give customers greater control over more than just their banks’ information, and more apps will use this information to build better services, like pensions, investments, utilities, etc. 

New initiatives like Variable Recurring Payments, from the Open Banking Implementation Entity, will allow merchants to accept payments directly from customers' banks rather than processing through cards.

Customers don’t care about flashy, they just want something that works well 

By Ricky Lee, CEO and co-founder of sync.

The last 12 months have been a time of slow growth and development for all markets as we all ride out the Covid-19 storm. We are going to see the next wave of challenger banks accelerate and grow in 2021, giving the established neobanks a real run for their money.

Customers will increasingly look for more than a simple product that works. Neobanks need to add real value to the customer on a daily basis and bring new features to the market, like cashback, zero FX fees, an advanced PFM, or a seamless Open Banking experience. 

Another feature that customers are increasingly looking for is environmentally friendly credentials. In 2021, customers will increasingly look to buy into a brand that shares their own values and cares about the planet.

At sync., we are going to the next level in 2021. We have spent much of the last year refining our product and setting up strong foundations to grow from. Now we are preparing to tell the world what sync. is really about. We have a lot of exciting features as we prepare to launch, so watch this space.

Not what you predicted? Let us know your 2021 digital banking predictions @AltFiNews.

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