Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

What Does the Tyrannosaurus Rex Say to the Triceratops?

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

What Does the Tyrannosaurus Rex Say to the Triceratops?

Article excerpt

NOTHING. THEY'RE BOTH LONG GONE. Dinosaurs Video Rental stores Netflix. Each has been invoked in warnings to banks: Evolve. Disrupt or be disrupted. Keep pace or experience a new kind of ice age moment--losing relevance.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Many bankers have been concerned about the potential competitive threat posed by the growth of fintech companies. At the same time, more and more fintech companies are seeking partnerships with banks, as if they have received their own quiet counsel: Don't try to go it alone--banking's harder than it looks. So is fintech a friend or foe?

For banks, understanding how to navigate the rapidly changing world of technology seems overwhelming at times. Stepping back, I think the most important rule is not to embrace technology for technology's sake, but to keep pace with it and anticipate customers' wants and needs. That's no small challenge, given the variety of customers we serve.

A recent survey of consumers conducted for ABA shows that bank customers are not monolithically leaving behind some channels, like branches and ATMs, in favor of others, like online and mobile. They are consuming them all. As with so many trends today, this poses both challenges and opportunities.

As an optimist, I like to focus on the opportunities. When I started at the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank 24 years ago, I was a commercial lender. I noticed that our customers were changing in terms of their expectations, so in 1998, I volunteered to coordinate the rollout of our internet banking channel. We were the first Cape-based bank to do so. It was, coincidentally, the same year that iTunes was introduced in limited release. This seems like a lifetime ago in tech years.

Customers, their lives and expectations continued to change, so I moved into the role of change agent--a.k.a. the director of product planning--and rolled out a debit card, relationship package and other innovations. Since then, our product and delivery systems have continued to evolve to accommodate changing needs.

But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Our future success lies in providing the sophisticated products and services our customers need before our competitors do. …

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