The digital revolution began with the individual. When an individual uses a piece of technology in their personal life, their experience colors their expectations for technology’s ease and flexibility in other aspects of their lives. Mobile and social applications that began as personal tools have slowly made their way into the greater public and professional sphere. Perhaps the most conspicuous example is Twitter; what started as an app for people to share their personal (or political) views has overwhelmingly been adopted by companies as a marketing and broadcasting platform for their business.
So what does this all mean for finance?
If customers are used to getting exactly what they want (often times, for free), it raises the stakes for any new piece of technology looking to make an impact in the industry. That means that any new interface must surpass traditional and trusted avenues in flexibility, ease and scalability.
In the financial sector, before personal laptops and smartphones were ubiquitous, large banks were the only wealth managers and vendors available to individuals and businesses. Yet, in many cases, this antiquated business model lacked transparency. Often, the cost of conducting an international money transfer through a large bank was not fully revealed to a customer until the transaction had already been completed. Furthermore, these banks held a monopoly and could overcharge clients, citing (hidden) management fees.
Today, online wealth managers offer an alternative to large banks. Cloud-based financial technology has eliminated the friction previously inherent to personal financing, increased transparency at all junctures and decreased processing fees related to financial transactions. This is especially relevant when conducting cross-border payments, an area where new technology has enabled exchange rates and processing fees to be calculated and guaranteed upfront.
Thus, financial business models must now deliver on three different fronts: price, transparency and user experience. The reduced processing fees of financial applications is a win for small-to-medium-sized banks and businesses (who previously contracted with larger banks for lending, mortgaging and investment services), but transparency and ease-of-use are relevant no matter a business’ size.
Consider how the internet has introduced instant-comparison shopping and led to the creation of highly-specified pricing algorithms (like that of Uber, which tells you what a taxi will cost before you take it) to calculate costs upfront and in real time. This trend has completely revolutionized consumer expectations with regard to business transparency — especially with younger generations, who are generally more comfortable sharing personal data and relying on tech to complete daily tasks.
This is the age of efficiency and instant-gratification — which means that as a rule, creating an exceptional customer experience is imperative to a business’ success. Time is an important commodity. Any interface that is too complex or time-consuming will lose the trust of its users, even if it’s competent in select functions. For financial business models, that means that the technical infrastructure behind any process must function seamlessly and intuitively.
At Currencycloud, price transparency, seamless technology and outstanding customer experience is at the heart of what we do. We’ve built our cloud-based international payments business to enable companies to automate their bank transfers, innovate and quickly deliver the solutions their customers want. Financial companies that similarly deliver on all three promises and continue to evolve alongside technology will have longevity with customers in a world that is constantly in flux.