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Which digital train are you on?

Financial institutions have heard for a few years now: “the digital train is here and you better get on or you’ll be left behind.” I always pictured an old-fashioned locomotive that you can easily hop on at the last minute as it slowly pulls away – just like in the movies. Well, thanks to COVID-19, that train has shot out of the station going 100 mph. Turns out they meant a bullet train.

The response to COVID-19 has forced a seismic shift in how consumers transact – nearly overnight. Ready or not, financial institutions are facing pressure to fast-track their digital transformation journeys to meet the new habits and expectations of their cardholders.

In a recent webinar held by Ondot, a panel of experts from PNC, FIS and Utah Community Credit Union (UCCU) shared analytics and anecdotes of what they are seeing with their consumer clients, and offered sage advice – and some tough love – on what FIs need to do to succeed through the pandemic.

I invite and encourage you to watch the recording of the webinar – found here. But for those of you who prefer the highlight reel, I’m happy to oblige.

UCCU had luckily boarded the digital train before it sped away, so their member base was ready. Stirling Ogden, head of Online Services, urges institutions to use vendor partners to scale quickly, and focus on the customer experience, stating “Convenience is the new loyalty.” Very well said.

FIS serves thousands of FIs who are in various stages of the digital journey – some are on the train, some are hanging on tight from the outside, and some are still in the station. Melissa Kopp, director of Business Strategy, sent a strong message about how consumer habits are changing, and if institutions are not focused on client expectations, consumers may be forced to choose an institution that is. She says the first step to modernizing your digital payments is enabling tokenization and digital wallets.

PNC is a conductor on the digital train, leading the way. But even with solid cornerstones in place, they frequently need to adjust. Stewart Watterson, senior vice president, Digital Wallets and Emerging Payments, urges financial institutions to be agile and flexible, and be prepared to pivot strategy quickly if needed. He advocates for accelerating the development of features that will accommodate the changing needs of consumers.

For those of you who just want to see some key takeaway bullets, I’ve got you covered:

  • Digital is the new institution lobby
  • Convenience is the new loyalty
  • Consumers preferences have shifted
  • These changes are permanent
  • Core digital / payments functions are key

All panelists agreed, no matter whether you are on the train or standing in the station, it’s never too late to get started, but you will benefit the most by moving FAST to modernize your card programs by:

  • Enabling tokenization
  • Focusing on digital card journeys – UX matters!
  • Empower your customers to self-serve