Banking, Innovation

The Bank of 2020 – Part 1

Aidan Lawlor
Aidan Lawlor

What’s this all about?

Industries like music, taxis, travel and social media have been growing at a ferocious pace while banking has stood still. Highly regulated and built upon legacy technology, banks are at a crossroads: embrace technology or become irrelevant. Aidan Lawlor takes a look at what the bank of 2020 should be.

Read on if you:

  • Are launching a digital bank
  • Are considering digital transformation 
  • Are interested in how banks can evolve like other industries

In today’s consumer-centric, demand-driven society, it’s not about what a business owns but the life experiences it can offer. What does that mean for banks in the not-too-distant future? How can they deliver truly customer-centric user experiences that not only help and advise their customers, but keep up with technological change?

The biggest car company doesn’t own any cars; the biggest accommodation provider doesn’t own any hotels; the biggest content provider creates none of its own content and the biggest retailer has no stores or stock. You’ve heard it all before. Yawn.

But what we have learned from all of these platforms is that they have leveraged the power of technology and data to change these industries forever.

Banking hasn’t undergone the same revolution. But it’s finally starting to catch up.

Changing it up

We’ve seen how certain industries have had to adapt to a shifting customer mindset. The music industry has undergone some pretty dramatic changes, from vinyl to cassette, compact discs to MP3, iTunes to Spotify. Customers have gone from wanting to physically own music to storing it digitally to simply having access to the music space.

Likewise, the publishing landscape has transformed massively from the days of paperbacks and hardbacks, with ebooks, self-publishing and online retailers changing the game for all players.

So what has this meant for contributors to these industries? Well, many artists now make their money through tours or merchandise. And some authors opt to sell books on a chapter-by-chapter basis. It’s all about keeping up with customer demand, whatever it takes.

The same shift is required for contributors to the financial industry.

Jurassic Banks

David Brear, founder and CEO of 11:FS, likens traditional banks to dinosaurs. He says that the ‘too big to fail’ argument didn’t work for our prehistoric friends, nor will it for those lumbering institutions that fail to adapt to a changing environment. 

Therefore, only those that evolve with consumer habits, those ‘crocodiles’ of banks, can expect to grow their user base in 2020.

When we say ‘evolve’, we don’t just mean baby steps. Because we’ve all seen what happens as a result of half-baked innovation attempts and it isn’t pretty. ‘Internet banking’ is simply the paper experience converted into HTML. ‘Mobile banking’ is 20th-century systems squashed up into 21st-century tech.

In fairness, this is something that until relatively recently, customers have widely accepted.

Although many of them remember a time before smartphones when they had to memorise phone numbers, buy CDs from a shop and use actual maps for directions, they can’t remember a time before banking. 

That’s why they take financial constructs, from loans to ledgers, as immovable objects. They’re centuries old and therefore set in stone, right?

Wrong. As you’ll know by now, banking is more flexible than previously imagined and certain companies have opened up customers’ eyes to the massive opportunities out there. 

For traditional banks, this means that meeting basic needs with baby evolutionary steps is no longer enough. Your customers have wised up and they aren’t afraid to switch to a financial provider that will go beyond all expectations.

The fight is on

In a piece about the consumer’s role in banking, entrepreneur and commentator Gemma Godfrey highlights some interesting stats:

  • ¾ of the global workforce in the next ten years will be made up of millennials
  • ¾ of millennials would be more excited about receiving a financial product from a technology provider like Google than their bank
  • ¾ of millennials would rather go to the dentist than visit their bank

If the majority of a bank’s customer base is made up of millennials who are excited by tech and frustrated by their current banking experience, doesn’t this scream ‘opportunity’ to you?


It’s time to stop thinking like the bank of 2010, i.e. focused on monetary transactions, bank balances and pushing generic products.

Instead, start thinking like the bank of 2020, which will be focused on delivering beautiful user experiences through customer behaviour, access to data and third-party integrations.

The old way is over. The new way is digital.

The time is now.

This post was originally published by LEVERIS in September 2016.

Aidan Lawlor
Aidan Lawlor

The all-in-one core banking platform.

A fully-integrated banking platform for better banking and smarter lending.

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