5 interesting innovations in retail banking

Banks are discovering new, meaningful ways to serve and engage customers - here are five key trends we've spotted that are revolutionising the banking experience.

Jess Jones
By Jess Jones
Posted 29. 05. 2020
5 banking innovations update 1

Recently, we’ve been focussing our attention on the finance industry and have identified an opportunity for banks to break away from traditional stereotypes and connect with consumers in more meaningful ways (read more of our thoughts on that here).

It’s no surprise that the retail banking sector is being transformed by the new era of experience. 71% of banking executives believe positive experiences in other sectors have led customers to expect more from their banking provider. In response, banks are finding new ways to serve and engage consumers through various channels. Here are five interesting trends we’ve spotted shaking up the world of retail banking:

1. Bringing in personality

Over the past few years, mobile banks have gained traction, winning over consumers by not only giving them a convenient way to track their spending, but also through user-friendly UX, a personable tone of voice and bold design. Catch a tube in London and you won’t be able to turn without seeing someone swiping a bright coral Monzo card at a ticket gate. Launched in 2015, the mobile bank now has three million customers (as of September 2019). Its card has been a talking point since the start, allowing the brand's story to be spread by word of mouth.

Starling Bank also stands out with its vertical debit card – the first of its kind for a UK bank – designed to reflect how cards are used today. The brand also maintains a conversational tone of voice across its communications, making it accessible and engaging. Its latest business banking campaign is also pretty unconventional. In an industry that traditionally maintains a formal persona, it’s refreshing to see disruptors differentiating themselves with playful personalities.

Starling bank card
© starling bank

2. Connecting through content

The average person isn’t hugely engaged with their finances, let alone financial institutions. However, banks are creating content to engage audiences in ways that are both entertaining and helpful. NatWest partnered with Stylist Magazine to create content on finance and banking that’s relevant to the publication’s female audience. The series, ‘A Woman’s Worth’, appears online and in print, with articles on everything from the psychological impact of money to pension advice.

DBS Bank in Singapore produced a web series, DBS Sparks, as a unique digital marketing campaign. Inspired by true stories, the 10-episode drama follows a fictional DBS team working to help clients. Each episode has hundreds of thousands of views and its success has even led to DBS creating a second season of the show. As part of a customer’s overall brand experience, content can be a powerful channel for building connections and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Natwest stylist
© stylist

3. Tapping into fan culture

Banks are also connecting with consumers through their interests. Wisconsin-based Associated Bank offers various sports-themed experiences to customers as benefits, such as 2-for-1 tickets to baseball games, discounts on club merchandise and debit cards depicting various state teams. The bank even opened a branch themed after the Green Bay Packers football team in the vicinity of the team’s home field. Full of interactive experiences, fans can create a digital avatar of themselves and play a number of games in the branch, which is open to everyone regardless of whether or not they’re Associated Bank customers.

In South Korea, banks are using Kpop stars to raise their profiles amongst younger consumers. KB Kookmin Bank signed BTS as its spokesmen in 2018 and launched a BTS Installment Savings account, complete with a check card and bankbook depicting the group. More than 180,000 accounts were opened, a near-six-fold increase compared to KB Kookmin Bank’s other regular savings accounts the year before. Other banks have seen similar success: when Shinhan Bank partnered with boy group Wanna One, the bank received over 50,000 preorders for a new debit card featuring the members.

Associated bank
© associated bank

4. Offering new experiences

Some banks are even creating entirely new experiences. Barcelona-based ImaginCafe is a hybrid cafe and events space from ImaginBank, the mobile-only bank owned by one of Spain’s leading financial groups, CaixaBank. Spread over three floors, imaginCafe hosts concerts, film screenings, exhibitions, gaming sessions and more, in addition to serving food and drinks from morning ‘til night. The space is open to everyone, but imaginBank customers are given access to exclusive activities and benefits.

Poland’s Idea Bank launched the innovative Idea Hub Express - a train carriage converted to serve as an office space for passengers. The coworking experience was driven by the insight that many of Idea Bank’s business customers frequently travel for work and 60% of the entrepreneurs it works with do not have regular offices. The train carriages, installed on several trains on popular routes within Poland, feature office equipment, chairs and desks, a screen for presentations, and coffee makers. The carriages are open to all, but Idea Bank customers have priority in booking seats. At D&P, we believe brand creativity is the new consistency. To keep consumers engaged today, brands need to offer up new experiences that grab their attention. By offering new spaces to eat, entertain, or work, banks are engaging people outside of branches and making themselves even more relevant in consumers’ daily lives.

© imaginbank

5. Creating inviting spaces

Traditionally, bank branches have looked like austere offices. The uninviting spaces do little to make customers feel comfortable; a missed opportunity, as dealing with money is a source of anxiety for many. However, brands are realising the power of design in creating environments that people want to spend time in.

When we worked with Nationwide, we designed their spaces to make customers feel at home with a selection of furniture, greenery and natural textured surfaces. Halifax’s flagship on London’s Oxford Street also feels far from a typical bank. The colourful space delivers all of the brand’s services and showcases its products in a fun environment. There’s even a Kitchen cafe where customers can chat to staff over a coffee or attend free seminars on financial advice. Many banks around the world are also getting on board with the trend. Raiffeisen Bank in Croatia has several branches that are bright, airy spaces that look like modern apartments, incorporating natural materials and foliage. Environments like these make all the difference in making customers feel welcome and at ease.

Nationwide community
our community-focussed concept for nationwide

As the consumer landscape continues to transform, we expect to see even more retail banks embracing new experiences that better serve and engage their audiences. With this shift, there’s an opportunity for banks to break away from traditional stereotypes and connect with consumers in meaningful ways, be it through content or cafes. To find out more ways to add value to your retail banking brand, read our article on how you can elevate your brand experience with our six pillar approach.

At Dalziel & Pow, we work with our clients to invent and reinvent brands and bring them to life across physical and digital experiences in retail, leisure and service. Get in touch if you'd like to find out what we can do for your brand.

Graphic by Jake Modaberi

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