2019 has been a tough year for most. It has been tough for consumers – many suffering job losses and little or no increases and bonuses; it has been tough on business whatever the sector. It has been tough on Banks being challenged by the Fintechs; losing 25% of the payments business and under increasing cost pressure in terms of compliance and regulations as well as facing increased levels of fraud.

We have seen the promise of c-commerce (Chat Banking) but no real impetus as banks struggle with the security or lack thereof on the various instant messaging platforms. We have seen security solutions being introduced that are so complex that merchants and consumers alike have “sprinted for the hills”. 

We have seen a significant increase in online shopping and with it increased levels of fraud and cart abandonment. We have had multiple conferences and papers on digitalisation – something that progressive banks started doing in the early 2000’s but suddenly it has a name. We have seen the emergence of Digital only Banks claiming to be first but the reality branchless banks were around in the early 2000’s. We have seen Biometrics being flaunted as the new savior for fraud only to be thwarted as reports emerge of voice and facial recognition being hacked in high profile cases. We have seen the cost of data being driven down and “voice calls” on their way to being relegated to the archives and history books.

It’s been a phenomenal year – a year where the groundwork has been done and lessons learned to launch massive new innovation and products that are customer centered rather than technology focussed. Don’t get me wrong, technology is the enabler that drives down costs and allows people entry to the game. Like in any sport, the technology, just like the ball that you are playing with, has to be appropriate for the problem you are solving but technology is not the game.

One hopes that we will see quicker decisions being made by the larger banks. We will see a massive surge in the adoption of chat banking and chat commerce as we solve the security issue and once we see one bank adopt and succeed there will be a mad scramble as the other vie to catch up. 

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