Consumers’ growing addiction to digital devices provides additional channels for financial services companies to optimise and extend their reach, but it also opens the floodgates for a wider variety of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Increased time is being spent on smartphones, and interactions with smart home devices and personal assistants using artificial intelligence (AI).

The time is ripe for companies to adapt their business models to meet the expectations that customers have already been forming from their early experiences with digital. The trick for thriving with financial services in digital is finding the right balance between being innovative and being secure.

Despite the growing number of digital methods to interact with financial services providers, consumers still want those experiences to feel personalized and authentic. FinTech startups, as well as technology players such as Apple, Google and Samsung, have set the standard for what consumers want from money-related services such as payments. This has disrupted traditional financial services models and challenged companies to re-define what customer-centricity means in a tech-driven world.

Customers today want the ability to obtain credit, open accounts and make payments without needing to talk to a human, and they expect transactions to be completed in near real time. They also demand better communication paths and consider personalized, targeted offers to be a given. Customers assume financial institutions’ tech should be visibly on par with FinTech companies that often rely on a wider range of data sets, applied in new ways and fresher technology, that do things like powering enhanced bot experiences.

All of this together presents new challenges for financial services companies as they weigh their options of how to deliver each of those innovative services while maintaining the necessary complex and ever-changing security standards.

Tech, Payments and Security

More than ever before, financial services companies have found themselves conflicted on how to approach change. With their companies often structured around infrastructure of another era, there’s a path toward enhancing overall customer experience, a path to innovate their payments technology and a path to upgrade their security features. Where true innovation occurs is at the point of where each of those paths intersect — if that is allowed to happen.

Approaches like machine learning and AI have accelerated the richness of interaction across a number of devices. A mobile device is no longer restricted to being used for just a website or an app, it has evolved into being a method to authenticate an identity and conduct a complex financial transaction. A true digital experience enables customers to choose to connect and interact with their financial services company (i.e., app, email, website, chatbot, phone call) in the way most appropriate to where they are or what they’re doing.

The challenge here is remembering to apply innovative technology without alienating customers and without creating security risks. Within the payments ecosystem, achieving the right balance of tech and security means understanding the context in which a customer desires to interact with a particular product or service.

Technology cannot replace the value-add of a true human interaction, but it can provide an additional outlet for customers to engage with in order to meet their instant-gratification needs. Adapting to what customers demand means knowing how and when to invest in better AI-supported services, and testing new chatbot features as a way to supplement, not replace, human interaction.

Where Security Fits into the Customer Service Mix

The desire of customers to want instant results has created more security challenges within the financial services world.

Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with sharing personal data with bots, which means financial services companies must offer these services with the same enhanced security features as traditional products.

As technology evolves — and more data is shared between customers and businesses — so have the techniques of fraudsters who continue to fine tune their attacks on the weakest points in digital. Protecting devices today requires complex security measures that goes beyond just passwords, authentication, tokenization and PCI requirements. To combat the evolving cybersecurity threats, the financial services industry must ensure it has a systemic approach to tackling fraud and cybersecurity issues.

For example, banks today are relying on digital agents, or bots, to power their interactions with some customers. Small- and medium-size businesses are increasingly relying on integrated enterprise software packages — creating a new realm of non-human interactions within the financial services ecosystem.

Without the right security measures in place, the power of technology can be damaging to any financial services company. But given the right balance of security, technology and customer-centricity, any financial services organisation can gain the brand-perception benefits of being seen as a technology innovator instead of just an adopter of an already existing trend.

Ted Bissell recently presented at a recent event in Boston entitled Going Digital in the Blink of an Eye. Click here to read the event summary.