Fun fact: The world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena was founded in 1472, which, as its founding principle, provided loans to the poor. Today, it remains one of Italy’s largest banks, providing services to individuals across the country.
Through the years, banks have become central to everyone’s daily lives. A place to keep money safe (no need to hide it under the mattress anymore), advise on investing hard-earned cash and provide loans when looking to make a big purchase. They have also facilitated travel by lending consumers currency for destinations around the world and have worked to make big businesses even bigger.
As time went on, technology evolved and changed the way banks interacted with their clientele. Once upon a time tellers were the mainstay for people to get their money out of deposit accounts, and cheques were ubiquitous when making payments. This changed when the first cash machine was installed in Enfield, North London, by Barclays banks in 1967, allowing people to skip the queue and get money in an instant.
Technology has been the great leveler for many industries, none more so than banks. As the internet took hold, and households gained access to the World Wide Web, banks began to take advantage. In fact, ‘internet banking’ was already ahead of the curve, with the Bank of Scotland offering a service that connected television and telephone in 1983 – Homelink – which allowed users to send transfers and pay bills. This was the beginning of online banking as we know it today.
Once the smartphone came along, it provided banks another way to offer products to customers. Indeed it paved the way for an entire new industry – fintech – which offers consumers more services and a better customer experience than traditional banks.
Monzo, one of the most popular fintech companies today, is an online-only bank that offer users a no-fuss banking experience via an app that details all spending and helps individuals budget better. This is a new concept called layered banking, which, as the name suggests, adds layers to your bank account to improve the customer experience.
This raises the question: will banks survive? That depends on whether they can buck the adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. It also depends on speed. Traditional banks have been limited by regulations and stakeholders (to name but two factors), unable to capitalise on the flexibility of the app ecosystem in the same way as fintech companies. But if they don’t embrace industry-wide disruption and start offering connectivity and user experience consumers have come to expect, they won’t last.
For communicators, this is also true. So much has disrupted the way we work, but we’ve managed to stay on top of these developments by keeping up with the times. Social media, the move to digital publications – we’ve seen it all, but remained competitive.
The way we avoid stagnation is by progressing our thinking, developing IP to stay ahead of the curve and using technology to keep us progressive.