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Passion For Banking Innovation Fueled By Fintech, Big Tech Disruptors

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The Financial Brand | By Jim Marous | October 2018

The Innovation in Retail Banking 2018 report provides a look back over the past decade with a view toward the future of innovation in financial services. While the commitment to innovation has increased, there are still many investment gaps, such as with advanced data analytics.

Over the last decade, banks and credit unions have needed to respond to the impact of the financial crisis, the digitalization of the industry and mobilization of the consumer, an influx of traditional and non-traditional competitors, new regulations, and continued pressures on margins. Despite these challenges — or maybe because of them — we have seen an increase in the commitment to innovation from institutions small and large. Innovation has also driven the fintech sector, with new entrants offering competitive alternatives focused on digital delivery and improved customer experience.

This increased commitment to innovation in response to consumer expectations and increased fear of non-traditional players are two of the primary findings of the 10th annual Innovation in Retail Banking report, sponsored by Efma and Infosys Finacle and published by the Digital Banking Report. The report includes a review of the previous nine years of the publication, providing a snapshot of the marketplace and innovation trends through the years. During this period, there was increasing investment in innovation, a shift from efficiency to experientially focused breakthroughs, evidence of continued strength of Eastern European and developing financial marketplace banks as innovators, and the integration of new technologies.

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The key findings from this global survey of more than 300 financial institutions include:

  • While fewer than half the organizations surveyed have a chief innovation officer, the presence of an innovation strategy increased by 6% since least year.
  • 50% of organizations state that their primary area of innovation in the next four years is in product delivery channels.
  • 74% of institutions increased innovation investment in technology, 73% increased investment in channels, and 69% increased investment for customer experience in the past year.
  • The primary ways organizations are driving innovation is by partnering with business partners, large tech firms and start-ups.
  • Open Banking APIs (5.68 on a 7-point scale) and advanced analytics (5.66) were the technologies thought to have the greatest impact over the next 12 months.
  • In 2018, there was a significant shift to a longer-term perspective of ROI for innovation.
  • Bankers surveyed believed big-tech firms, digital commerce platforms and fintech start-ups will be the most innovative competition in 2022.

2018 Innovation Trends

Digital Banking Report research found that the proportion of institutions with a defined innovation strategy rose 6% from 2017 — to 49%. In 2017, the percentage of firms with an innovation strategy was 43%, compared to only 37% in 2009 (when only larger firms were included in the study).

In the past, the vast majority of organizations surveyed were larger financial institutions. In 2017, the scope of the research expanded significantly, including smaller firms that are less likely to have a mature innovation process. When a delineation of respondents was done by asset size, it was found that larger financial organizations are more likely to have a clear innovation strategy than smaller  firms.

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Presence of Innovation Officer. The primary driver of innovation, beyond budget and personnel, is the presence of an “innovation culture” and a focus on making innovation an integral part of the way an organization views itself. However, slightly fewer than 50% of organizations have a dedicated innovation officer within the organization according to the report.

The good news is that the presence of an innovation officer increased significantly over the past year — by six percentage points. In 2017, only 37% of the organizations surveyed had a dedicated person to lead the innovation process. This increase is one of the largest changes in this year’s survey.

When the report dug deeper into the responses, it was found that there was a definite delineation based on the size of organization. As expected, the presence of an executive for the innovation process is correlated with the size of the bank or credit union. It is assumed that as the size of the organization gets smaller, innovation becomes part of a broader role within the organization.

Areas of Innovation Investment. The percentage of firms increasing investment in innovation increased by only 3% this year, it is interesting to note that the number was relatively the same across all geographies and sizes of organizations. Supporting the focus on improving the digital delivery of financial services for the improvement of the customer experience, investment in channel innovation and customer experience were two of the top three areas of increased investment in 2018.

Not surprisingly, the top area of increased investment is in the area of “technology enhancement.” Based on other research done by Digital Banking Report, this focus is most likely to reduce costs, as opposed to improving the customer experience.

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Measurement of Innovation Success. In a major shift from previous reports, far fewer organizations are taking a short-term view of innovation returns. In 2017, 31% of firms had a ROI perspective of one year, compared to only 17% this year. That said, while 54% of firms looked for an ROI in 1-3 years in 2017, this number increased to 63% this year.

This extended view of returns from investment in innovation is definitely welcome, since this indicates a separation between innovation and quarterly financial reports. This was considered a significant cultural change in the industry overall.

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org


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