Banks are using the Internet to come up with new ways to get closer to customers and offer tailor-made services that help them manage their finances quickly and easily anytime, anywhere and boost their financial health.

Man relaxing in the sunlight texting on mobile in his patio.

The digital era has reshaped the way we interact with each other. We can talk to our friends, relatives and even our bank through a computer or mobile phone. Though young people are the trailblazers of online banking, in recent years customers of all ages have started to see it as a comfortable, simple, safe and fast way to manage their finances.

Take 70-year-old Manuel, who has enjoyed spending more time with his grandchildren since retiring. On his last birthday, they gave him a smartphone and taught him about “chatting”, “downloading apps” and “sending emails”. Since then, he’s discovered endless ways to keep in touch with his loved ones, find information and even communicate with his bank on its website and app.

Though each country and bank can have different digital customer service channels, the most popular ones Manuel could come across are:

  • Social media: On networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, he can find relevant information about the bank and submit queries. As they are open to the public, he should avoid sharing personal and private data that could lead to identity theft.
     
  • Email: A private setting where Manuel can find out more about consumer loans and other products. In addition to detailed information about products he signs for, he can also receive terms and conditions and ask questions by email.
     
  • Chats: Manuel can use private, instant messaging on his bank’s website and app to get the latest on his investment fund, check his account and make transactions with the help of an agent. Thank to artificial intelligence, he can also check the frequently asked questions and get immediate solutions from chatbots (programs designed to answer repeated questions automatically).

    In recent years, instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger have become banks' go-to chat apps to answer questions about their products and services. For instance, Manuel can send his agent a WhatsApp message to ask how to add a signatory to his bank account.
     
  • Virtual voice assistants: He can check his account balance or the expiry date of his credit card on AI programs like Siri (Apple), Hey Google (Google) and Cortana (Microsoft). This is one of the fastest growing customer service technologies.
     
  • Contact form: Manuel can find this on the bank’s website. More often than not, it’s encrypted. He gives information like his name and email address, and writes his query. An agent will then respond.

Like Manuel, more customers are turning to new, online digital channels to manage their finances and get answers to their questions. The major benefits of digital transformation include speed, as customers don’t need to visit a branch; simplicity, making online banking intuitive and accessible to vulnerable groups as part of financial inclusion initiatives; and security, due to stringent customer identification mechanisms like fingerprint mobile log-in.

Security is an online banking priority. With cybercrime on the rise, banks are advising customers that they will never contact them to ask for personal information. Users can follow simple tips to strengthen their passwords like using combinations of numbers, letters and symbols, as well as reporting suspicious-looking emails as spam.

To learn more about banks’ cyber security, including how to avoid phishing — where hackers attempt to steal your passwords and personal data —, check out this Sano de Lucas article (in Spanish). 

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