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Six Technology Trends Every Bank Should Be Ready For In 2021 Contactless and virtual working imperatives have changed how we all connect and use services

By Suresh Ranganathan

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As the pandemic has ravaged the world in 2020, going "digital' has become a necessity for every organization, especially banking and financial institutions. Contactless and virtual working imperatives have changed how we all connect and use services.

Digital-only banking

Banking and banks have seen many digital impacts in the last few years with the emergence of challenger banks and also Neobanks. Neobanks offer a digital-only experience without the need for physical branches. By leveraging mobile apps and online-only solutions, they deliver new dynamic and agile services to the consumer.

These solutions appeal primarily to millennials and Gen Z in the developed world and also provide new and more flexible solutions for the unbanked and underbanked in emerging economies.

We anticipate that digital-only services will grow significantly in 2021-2022 with the need for all financial institutions to offer such services.


No one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, financial institutions needed to respond to customer demands of all sorts—from basic queries, to access to services, to new ways of working with their money, to new lending models.

Most banks were not and are not ready for this level of "hyper' personalization—the need to leverage tools such as data analytics underpinned by AI/ML is a capability that more than 75 per cent of banks lack.

There is now a requirement to not just predict customers' actions, but to leverage sentiment and listening to deliver new solutions and services.

Hyper-personalization will be a key trend in 2021.


The arrival of RPA technology has impacted every industry, helping to drive efficiencies and reduce manual operations costs considerably.

The emergence of the RPA digital worker has allowed financial institutions to deliver advanced solutions for customer verification (KYC), onboarding, security checking, allowing them to focus attention on customer service and experience.

As we move through 2021, RPA coupled with AI, i.e., cognitive automation will impact all aspects of banking solutions—to develop new business models, new products, reporting methods, etc., and to help drive superior customer experiences that will drive long-term competitiveness as banks seek to play alongside digital-only offerings.

"-as-a-service' finance in the Cloud

Moving to the cloud has always been a big concern for financial institutions—the perceived cybersecurity risks, costs, data sovereignty to name a few. The 2020 pandemic, however, has highlighted the need for more flexible and agile infrastructure offerings. The hyper-scalers (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) have risen to this challenge and are now providing scalable infrastructure and solutions that allow even the smallest companies to take advantage.

To be able to access and quickly analyze the vast amounts of data now available, especially around customer sentiment, we anticipate more banks and financial institutions will look to not only move into the cloud but also be able to offer "as-a-service' solutions to consumers such as insurance-as-a-service or banking-as-a-service.

Open banking and payments

The payments ecosystem has changed dramatically in the last few years and the need for digital payments has increased significantly as a result of the pandemic. Real-time payments (RTP) will change the way salaries are disbursed, social security, unemployment benefits are credited and more.

With open banking and API standards (such as PSD2, NACHA/AFINS), the opportunities will increase not only for just third-parties but also allow banks to monetize access to pertinent customer information.

The next BIG thing: Corporate digital refresh

There has been an uproar of embracing digital transformation in the corporate banking world. However, the pandemic—an uncontrolled change in the banking ecosystems—has forced corporate banks to be agile than before with the use of digital technologies that will make up at least 30 per cent of revenue by 2023.

We believe that the integration of banking directly with the corporate client IT's workflow will be a first. Here, firms will merge their banking applications within their own ERP to streamline processes and deliver faster financial services. Additionally, with the openness to cashless societies powered by digital wallets and real-time payments, open banking would take a giant leap with corporate banks offering pull payments and other value-added services to establish their growth. Lastly, the adoption of powerful technologies backed by AI/ML and big data will help detect suspicious and fraudulent transactions while easing out contactless payments.

Suresh Ranganathan

Vice-President & Head of Business Unit-Banking and Financial Services, Aspire Systems

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