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Why trust and technology are the perfect partnership to rebuild the financial sector

By Steve Rackham, Senior Solutions Engineering Manager, EMEA Global at NetApp

When it comes to dealing with financial services, consumers understandably place a huge amount of emphasis on trust. Consumer confidence is the bedrock of this industry. However, when new innovations are weaker than hoped, confidence levels suffer.

When services go down, consumer trust significantly wains. What makes it more challenging is these failures come in a range of forms; from fraud to complete outages, the only thing that’s certain is that trust suffers. There is growing pressure on the sector to digitise services and increase productivity, but when this happens, it’s important that the customer remains front of mind – to improve retention and build long term trust.

This couldn’t come at a more relevant time, following the recent Talk Money Week event, in which the UK’s financial road to recovery was a key talking point – so much so that 90% of UK adults still find it difficult to talk about money.

Today’s consumers still face anxiety when it comes to their finances, and this has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, since the pandemic started, the fraudsters have continued to strike and in some cases it has increased. Whether this be through credit card fraud or more recently, the rise in APP (authorised push payment) fraud, it continues at a frightening pace. According to the ONS, the crime survey for England and Wales shows a 32% increase in fraud incidents in the year ending June 2021, driven largely by consumer and retail fraud.

Whilst there is a level of responsibility on the consumer, they also want to know that their bank is doing everything it can to help prevent, detect, and fight fraud. With the wealth of data at their disposal as well as advances in technologies such as machine and deep learning, banks have much more access to the weapons to do this. However, as the financial services industry continues to innovate, it must ensure its consumers are taken along on the journey.

Trust continues to be an issue in the UK

Each generation looks to move at a faster pace, take advantage of the technology available for them and shop around for the best deals – even when it comes to banking. It’s not uncommon for Generation Z and millennials to have 30 to 40 financial service providers for their different needs.

It’s no surprise then, that our recent research found that an overwhelming majority of UK consumers (82%) now prefer to access information or services from their banking provider via their website. 94% even rated online banking as the most important banking service – higher than any of the other countries surveyed.

Our survey also revealed that over half (53%) of people felt held back from the convenience of online banking because of safety concerns – saying that if they knew more about the safety of digital services, they would start to use it or use it more often.

But despite this overwhelming preference for online banking, trust continues to be an issue for UK consumers when it comes to financial services. With the proposed extension to open banking, the financial service industry will need to share more information to allow their customers to spread their financial risk.

If banks want to increase trust with their customers, there needs to be better data sharing internally. Having different accounts and services with the same institution but then being treated by each business unit as different customer means there is less of a benefit with staying with a single provider.

It takes a lifetime to build it but a second to destroy it…

Trust that is gained over time, can unfortunately be lost in an instant. For example, if a customer is unable to access their finances, even if it’s just for five minutes, trust (and satisfaction) is significantly – and potentially irreversibly – damaged. For example, although not in the financial sector, Facebook’s major outage in October is a clear demonstration on how their reputation has been harmed in the aftermath.

In the financial sector, we’ve seen numerous examples where customers of high street banks have been unable to access funds through mobile apps due to online outages. This seems to be becoming a regular occurrence and causes customers to vent their frustration on social media.

This type of outage, especially in the financial sector, often causes panic. The longer they go on, the more customers begin to wonder who has access to their data and even their funds. If these services remain inaccessible for longer than a few minutes, services that are often so reliable and accessible, begin to lose trust. And fast.

Banks must look towards data

As well as banks, this lack of trust also extends to using third-party solutions. According to our study, 8 out of 10 consumers prefer the convenience of paying through a third-party provider like Apple Pay but 64% are concerned that their personal data could be stolen by criminals if they use these providers. It’s not only this – UK consumers still value some sort of human interaction. Over half (52%) of respondents still want to go into a branch to talk to advisors or access services.

To improve customer trust, banks must deal with these concerns head on. By using a data-driven approach they can manage processes like automating payments, managing fraud and mitigating risk. In this growing digital and data-driven environment UK banking consumers are craving convenience. But it’s important that the technology meets – or even exceeds expectations – to (re)gain the trust of consumers.

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