If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that digital financial services are here to stay. Lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing all caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic illustrated not just the need but the necessity for virtual banking services. Thanks to the tech and accounting experts, handling one’s business from the comfort of a home office became possible and helped millions of small businesses stay afloat.
And the use of these digital tools is only going to improve and spread in 2021. Forced to digitally transform, banks and financial institutions deemed essential have evolved their services to serve a new age, one that’s more prepared for a disaster and can be accessed anywhere.
This guide will look at what digital financial services have in store for small businesses in 2021.
Mobile banking has become the new normal within the last 18 months, pushed forward by the isolation of the coronavirus. This might not sound too surprising, but it is really interesting how mobile is expanding within banks themselves. According to Biz Tech Magazine, banks are now deploying mobile devices throughout their workforce as it brings more flexibility in helping customers, improves efficiency, and helps cut wait times.
In addition, services like video banking are rapidly expanding. Rather than leave customers to fend for themselves during a crisis, banks and accounting firms have brought a new in-person option to the forefront by allowing financial experts to meet virtually with clients.
The Rise of the Chatbot
The term Chatbot might sound like a character from The Terminator, but it’s actually a tool you see more and more online, be it on retail platforms or the customer service page of your CPA. Chatbots are interactive FAQs that feel like you’re speaking to a customer service representative. And they’re here to stay.
Expleogroup reported that by the “End of 2021, chatbots will interact with the customers of 85% of banks and businesses.” And that’s a good thing. When call centers are off-hours, Chatbots can give 24/7 service and handle and resolve small issues that may arise in a personalized, easy-to-use fashion.
Mobile Payments Come of Age
Will 2021 see the end of the wallet? That might be getting ahead of ourselves, but the trend in tech and small business is shifting away from the use of credit and debit cards to mobile phone payment platforms. One needs to only look at the latest statistics to see what’s driving this shift. Biometrics, for instance, a thumbprint to access a bank account, is the future.
By 2025, App-based purchases and mobile commerce, and contactless mobile device-based payments will drive more than $3 trillion in mobile payments that will be secured with biometrics, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
This shift could be a small business boon providing owners with an easier way to share financial account access to staff without the need to hand out multiple business credit cards. It also could mean greater security and oversight without the worry of business cards being abused or falling into the wrong hands.
Improved Digital Experiences
Clunky accounting, lending, and banking websites are a thing of the past. Customer demand has forced the industry to get serious about fintech and clients are the beneficiaries. One study found that financial institutions that digitize the most important consumer journeys can increase revenues up to 20% and reduce costs by up to 25%, proving that providing a better user experience is in everyone’s interest.
In 2021, that means that whether a small business owner is looking to secure a loan or shopping for a new accountant, they’ll not only be doing it online, but the players providing the best digital experience will have a better opportunity to win business. As more and more customers’ first impressions begin online, financial institutes will continue to compete for their attention — a win for small business owners.
The Normalization of Digital-Only Banks
Who needs a bank with in-person branches when everything a customer needs can be accessed via an app? That’s what many institutions are considering right now as a shift to virtual banking grows. With automated processes and in-app chat, many customers are embracing the shift. The success of branchless-banking pioneer USAA sets the precedent.
The company serves U.S. military customers and their family members around the world using its state-of-the-art mobile customer-focused solutions. One reason the company, according to Forbes, has been ahead of the trend on branchless banking, is thanks to its Accessibility Lab. Here a team devotes its time to anticipating customer needs. For instance, one question they tackled is how visually disabled customers could use their check scanning tool. Solution: voice-enabled remote capture.
With forward-thinking fintech solutions such as these, small business owners have a lot to look forward to when it comes to this year’s digital financial solutions.