Pundits and prognosticators are busy making predictions for the year ahead, and leaders in the financial services sector are no different. It does not take a crystal ball to predict that in 2008 the financial services industry will continue to focus on meeting the evolving needs of consumers and businesses while improving business models and mitigating risk. Payments options are key to meeting these demands.
Today's consumer market is increasingly diverse and engaged in technology, especially mobile technology. This broad base of consumers expects financial information -- from account balances to portfolio management -- to be presented to them instantaneously. Consumer expectations will place increased pressure on financial institutions to offer a growing array of electronic payments applications.
On the commercial banking side, businesses will seek to leverage opportunities in a world without financial borders. A myriad of businesses will expect to improve bottom-line performance and accounting practices -- from earnings to payroll -- with electronic payment solutions.
The financial services industry will be well-positioned to meet the growing needs of its retail and commercial customers with electronic payments products and applications that are simple, safe and smart. Key initiatives on which the industry will continue to focus in 2008 include the following:
• Mobile banking. Mobile banking will emerge as a significant financial services channel -- used by 35 percent of online banking households by 2010, according to a recent Celent (Boston) report. According to the report, 40 percent of Gen Y (those born between the late '70s and early '90s) indicates that mobile financial services will be a factor in choosing financial institutions.,
• Risk management. Risk management is and will remain a high-voltage issue for the near term. Increasingly, financial institutions view tools and techniques that assess and track risk as priority items worthy of senior management and cross-enterprise consideration. Ongoing concern around data security, identify theft, fraud and other risk-related issues among consumers, businesses, regulators and payments professionals drives this trend. The proliferation of new payments products such as mobile applications is worthy of interest, especially at the front end of the transactions, where initial access is gained. ,
• Authentication. Authentication solutions that aim to mitigate risk will remain a high priority for the financial services industry in the year ahead. The global economy, the mobility of consumers and businesses, and the spectrum of access devices will continue to drive new technology solutions that remain critical to keeping accounts secure. ,
• Environmental impact. Environmental impact will continue to affect the way the financial services industry does business at both the corporate office and the store location. The industry will continue to lead by making strategic changes in corporate and branch operations and by offering innovative business and consumer solutions.,
• Multiplatform infrastructures. Multiplatform infrastructures that support the needs of consumers and businesses through advances in hardware, software applications, systemic improvements and, of course, human capital will continue to remain a focus of the industry.
The year ahead brings with it opportunities for leadership and innovation as the financial services sector focuses on meeting the evolving needs of a consumer and business base that is plugged in, mobile and has high expectations.