In 2020, banking and fintechs alike are at a crossroads.
The last decade has seen a revolution in banking – the way we create, sell and use products has changed in reaction to the entrenched attitudes that caused the 2008 crisis. Now, at another crucial moment for the financial services industry, it’s important that we stick to this new approach as we face up to the Covid-19 pandemic and use experiences like this to change and improve our offering to customers.
Since March, millions of SMEs, sole traders and freelancers have adapted to meet the needs of their customers, and the conditions that Covid-19 presents, helping their own businesses survive and even prosper.
Now it’s our turn to do the same.
Unfortunately, many businesses also have not survived, and even more will fail if banks and fintechs don’t seize this opportunity to work collaboratively with our customers, creating products and services that meet their changing needs in challenging times.
In my time at Intuit and eBay I saw the clear commercial benefits of empowering SMEs, sole traders and freelancers with financial tools and software designed for their needs. People running businesses of all sizes want to succeed, and if you can become a trusted part of their journey, they go from being customers to advocates.
SMEs are working hard to keep their businesses running and now is time to support them with the products they need, and right now they need flexibility. We still don’t know what form the economic recovery from Covid-19 will take, but you can be sure that any support we can offer during this time will result in increased trust and confidence from our customers and audience.
We need to listen, learn and most of all to be flexible. Improvements in banking technology mean we can use open banking platforms and connected services to help customers understand and manage their finances with clarity and confidence. We’ve already seen the benefit of this, with attitudes towards lending changing and improving for all parties. Business owners who have a strong understanding of their finances are less likely to see a loan as a last resort, they now understand how to take on manageable debt that helps their business in the long run.
Banks have behaved admirably during Covid-19, introducing customer-focused innovation at breakneck speed with the likes of mortgage and credit-card holidays. As the recovery begins, it’s our responsibility to remain agile and continually reappraise our products and features to ensure we’re supporting business owners in need of financial support. We’re currently seeing the benefits of this approach, so it’s important that we, as an industry, don’t let complacency hinder the progress we’re making.
At Asto we want to support and empower our customers using modern technology and innovative simple solutions that can help ease real life financial problems. A better-informed customer is able to make confident, smart decisions about taking out financial products. This results in happier customers who are more likely to share constructive feedback and recommendations, in turn helping us improve our product range.
If we, as an industry maintain the momentum we’ve created already, we can use the technology at our disposal to create products that suit more people than ever. It will be an ongoing process, but the current pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance of empathy and collaboration. I hope it will help create a healthier relationship between financial services providers and customers in the long run, by combining advanced technologies with a human touch and empathy.