3 Banking and Fintech Trends to Watch in 2019

It’s the beginning of a new year, and naturally new trends will take shape. The seed for some trends like voice banking and contactless payments were already planted last year, while others such like core overhauls went relatively untouched last year. Then there is also the possible revival of older trends (hint: cryptocurrency could be making a comeback).

This list, of course, could not include everything. But here are the top 3 trends Bank Innovation‘s editorial team predicts will be most prominent this year. In no particular order, the list goes:

1. Core overhaul

New year, new core? At least that will be the question for many banks that are trying to become more digitally evolved. The legacy core has long posed a problem for implementating innovations because it only allows changes on a superficial level, on top of an old system.

“A lot of the innovation we are seeing now — balance-checking apps, PFMs, etc. — they are great, but this is going to run out of steam after a while,” Paul Taylor, CEO and co-founder of the core-as-a-platform company Thought Machine, previously told Bank Innovation. “This is because they are all built on top of a legacy system.”

A nimble cloud-based, or at least modern and unsiloed, core is required in order to enable innovation and digitalization from the ground up. And while many banks acknowledge this, very few took on the task of updating their cores in 2018. And understandably so, the project is massive, tedious and expensive. But this year, Bank Innovation believes that more banks will address the topic in some shape or form.

U.K.’s massive Lloyds Bank has already started tackling this undertaking by approaching it in pieces. Other banks, such as Wells Fargo, told Bank Innovation that switching cores is not at the top of the list. The San Francisco-based company built its digital bank, Greenhouse, on top of its existing core. Purveyors of new cores, naturally, think otherwise.

2. Voice banking

As more devices have enabled speaking and listening (some of them may be listening to you right now) banks have joined the rush to build apps for Alexa, Google Home, Facebook Portal, and the plethora of chatbots emerging to tell you your balance or when your credit card bill is due. The attraction is not just convenience for multitaskers and drivers, but for visually impaired customers. 2018 might be best remembered for the loss of trust in the companies that monetize customers’ personal information — Amazon, Google, and Facebook, the very companies eager to plan their devices in homes across the world.

The security around voice-activated personal assistants remains poorly understood and some frightening vulnerabilities may make banks wary of committing further to the space in the near term. This year, Bank Innovation expects to see more development around these security issues as well as banks such as Bank of America with its virtual assistant Erica or Capital One with Eno fine-tuning existing voice features and building new ones.

3. Banks and fintech competing for the same talent

In the weeks leading up to 2019, the banking industry already saw some notable changes in leadership. Barclays Bank picked up U.K. challenger bank Starling’s chief platform officer Megan Caywood as head of consumer strategy. And, of course, fintechs are poaching from larger companies. For instance, British money management company Yolt recently hired Barbora Polachova, the former head of partnerships of ride-share company Uber, as its head of partnerships. Not to mention that 2018 saw some key executives step down from their positions (Swift CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt quit after 11 years; Square’s CFO Sarah Friar and BofA’s head of digital banking Michelle Moore have also stepped down from their respective roles). These positions, and others, will need to be filled and soon. So, Bank Innovation expects this musical chairs to get heated up in 2019. Tis the season for fresh talent.

-Philip Ryan, senior editor at Bank Innovation, contributed to this article

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