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Technology Through the Years

A final look back at banking innovation.

By Michael Scheibach

“Conestoga Bank, headquartered in Chester Springs, Pa., is introducing mobile remote deposit capture, or mRDC: the ability to use a smartphone to photograph a check and deposit it directly into your bank account.”

This was the opening sentence of my Technology Focus column eight years ago. Mobile RDC was quite new at that point, with many banks hesitant to implement the technology because of potential risks of duplicate deposits. Today, mRDC has become an essential offering critical for retaining current customers and obtaining a new generation of digital-first customers. According to a survey by RemoteDepositCapture.com, 95 percent of banks now believe mRDC benefits outweigh the costs and risks.

That same year, I also wrote about the introduction by Washington Bank and Trust in Spokane, Wash., of a mobile banking solution giving customers the ability to check balances, pay bills, make transfers and find branch and ATM locations. Juniper Research now predicts that 2.1 billion consumers worldwide will make a mobile payment or send money this year. And Statista predicts that 94 percent of millennials will use mobile banking by the end of 2019.

I have also written about a new user-friendly online bill payment solution from Danversbank in Danvers, Mass., and Associated Bank, headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., implementing out-of-band authentication in which a business was alerted by phone and required to verify a transaction. Other topics over the years have included tablet banking, biometrics, the cloud, cybersecurity, authentication, omnichannel services, the Internet of Things, Apple Pay, blockchain and e-payments.

Five years ago, I wrote that artificial intelligence, or AI, technology “will level the playing field for regional and mid-tier banks by allowing them to leverage their existing data and knowledge without being primarily dependent on capital and resources.” A study released earlier this year by Autonomous concluded that 2.5 million financial services employees are now exposed to AI technologies. Moreover, the research firm predicts that banks will soon be using AI to determine credit risk based on new types of data, such as social media; taking insurance underwriting risk and assessing claims damage using machine vision (i.e., image-based automatic inspection and analysis); and selecting investments based on alternative data combined with human judgment. By 2035, according to Accenture, AI will add $1.2 trillion in value to the financial industry.

Three years ago, the hot topic was fintech. “If anyone doubts whether financial institutions are facing an unprecedented transformation in services, operations and customers,” I wrote, “it is time to stop and look at what is occurring across the payments landscape . . . The prime movers behind this potential disruption are fintech start-ups.” Today, fintechs are partnering with banks to provide customers with more innovative financial services.

Perhaps the most prevalent theme in these columns, albeit often beneath the surface, has been the predicted disruption of the banking industry, usually bookmarked as occurring in 2020. Banks have already implemented a number of solutions to meet the challenge of the digital era. Going forward, they will unquestionably introduce even more, such as expanded application programming interfaces, or APIs, biometrics and digital IDs, real-time payments and cashless transactions. In addition, expect banks to expedite their movement toward a customer-centric approach with the ability to serve any customer anywhere on any device at any time.

Although this is my final column as I transition to a life of retirement, be assured that BankNews will continue to track the technologies that impact the banking industry. Despite the naysayers about the future, banks have faced changes and challenges before and survived quite well. And from my vantage point, this trend will continue. 

Michael Scheibach was Contributing Editor, BankNews. 

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