The final few months of 2015 hammered home the idea that digital banking was the future, and actually made it feel like final nails were being hammered into the coffin of high street branches.
The pace at which retail banks were closing their branches sped up, with 650 branch closures expected in 2015 – up from 500 branches in 2014 following 222 in 2013, according to the Campaign for Community Banking Services. December was off to a great start for challenger banks after three digital banks around the world either received their regulatory licences or raised significant funds. “The adoption of FinTech products is relatively high for such a new sector, so the risk of disruption is real,” said Imran Gulamhuseinwala, EY Global FinTech Leader just before Christmas. Over Christmas itself, Halifax said that one in seven active online banking customers checked their bank account on Christmas Day, of which 70 per cent did so on mobile phones.
Across the pond, a similar trend is noticeable as for the first time, more people in the US chose to do their weekly banking on mobile phones than those who preferred to bank in a branch.
There is also a trend of financial institutions setting up trendily called ‘hubs’ in a bid to keep customers intrigued. Barclays set up one for businesses that allows them to access all their banking services through a single gateway and another one, which is inviting select customers and developers to download Barclays Launchpad from App stores, which will allow users to trial new mobile banking features and give their feedback to Barclays.
Now, it seems Lloyds has also jumped on the ‘hub’ bandwagon as it launches its own Digital Banking Hub. The Group’s digital director, Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola, stressed the significance of digital banking in the modern world.
“As digital has become an intrinsic part of our everyday lives it has also become interlinked into every part of our business – something demonstrated by the 1.6 billion log-ons our customers made to our sites in the last 12 months alone,” he said in a post.
He also describes digital banking as being “critical in the way we evolve and transform to meet the needs of the 30 million customers – from individuals and charities, through to small businesses and large corporates”.
To demonstrate how significant digital banking really is, Lloyds has also created an infographic.
Mastercard is working with Stripe to expedite the payment process for American sellers on the latter's marketplaces using the instant payouts feature from Stripe.
Lloyds has launched biometric finger print authentication for mobile banking.
Barclaycard has partnered with Case Station, a company that makes personalised phone cases, to embed contactless technology in the latter's smartphone cases.
Digital challenger bank, N26, which has been live for one and a half years and has more than 200,000 customers, rolled out a new feature that allows its customers to transfer money using Siri. All they have to do is talk to it.