As of this writing on 3/20/2020, we are in the early stages on determining the impact the COVID-19 virus will have on both the economy and our lives. While we still face many unknowns we are beginning to learn lessons which give us the opportunity to change the way we will bank in the future not only for events such as the current pandemic, but how to better support banking customers in general.
- Hosting in the cloud: A big part of the role of a Chief Technology Officer is business continuity planning to make sure that the underlying systems that support the banking business can operate under any conditions. We frequently perform disaster recovery testing to ensure our critical applications continue to operate in the event of a regional disaster. Although pandemic planning is part of our business continuity plans, the scope of COVID-19 may stress those plans to operate our technology infrastructure by limiting our operations and support organizations. Cloud hosting can potentially be a tool that can be leveraged to extend our required resources to 3rd party providers in the event staffing operations and support teams become problematic.
- Contactless payments: With the introduction of “social distancing” the last thing we want to do is come in contact with payment devices including payment card terminals, ATM machines or handing cash to cashiers. Fortunately, some merchants such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts allow you to have the QR code scanned using their mobile apps not requiring any physical contact. This is more the exception than the norm. This is an opportunity to accelerate the move to contactless payments. Near Field Communication (NFC) payments is a well established technology and should be accelerated to more merchants and channels. Contactless cards should also become the standard in the card industry.
- Additional functions to mobile platform: The mobile banking platform is the platform of choice for the majority of banking customers. We must continue to move key functionality to that platform. Mobile check deposit is an example of a function that should become table stakes on the mobile platform. We must continue to drive function to this key self-service platform.
- Video banking: There will continue to be times where face to face, albeit virtual, fills a need on both the sales and service side of banking. Using video in both the internet browser as well as mobile is a great solution. The team that created the ATM video teller have new startup POPi/o which provides a mobile video platform for mobile banking. Driving traditional face-to-face interactions to the mobile device will allow customers to perform these interactions out of the bank branch and to their preferred banking channel. As we evolve to 5G networks, this should become commonplace.
- P2P payments: The banking industry must still continue to evolve to a real-time person-to- person payment platform. We may choose to continue to support our merchants that no longer are able to remain open and having a viable way to support these merchants through this time through a P2P platform is a way of doing that. We all understand there are legacy issues with our payment systems but the industry must evolve to true real-time payments.
COVID-19 is a once in a generation event. We have the opportunity to better understand the impact on our lives and the businesses that we are part of, learn lessons, and make improvements so we end up in a better place when this is a distant memory.