It's no secret that the way we bank has undergone some major changes in the past decade. The days of paper or plastic are slowly fading away as we move into the age of paper or... smartphone. While the way we pay for our items and check our account balance is changing, the way banks do business remains virtually unchanged.
To put it simply, the banking industry is ripe for disruption. The average consumer has little to no trust in their bank, they just use the cheapest option they can find. Combine that with a total lack of competition at the top-level of the industry and what you're left with is an industry in desperate need of change.
For more on that, let's dig into 4 statistics that show why banking is ripe for disruption.
People don't trust banks
Just 1 in 4 Americans trust their bank according to the most recent Gallup poll. While that is a bit higher than it was during the 08 crisis, the number is still at a historical low. That mistrust shines brightest when you examine alternative currencies.
The price of gold is up and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are exploding both in price and popularity. The modern consumer is desperately searching for any payment method that limits their dependency on traditional banks.
Earlier this year, Japan officially recognized Bitcoin as a legal currency and authorized its use in everyday transactions. If the new wave of Bitcoin based vendors goes well, expect a greater push for mainstream use here in the US.
The way we bank is changing
If you're a millennial or member of the aptly named Generation Why- I mean Generation y, chances are you already do the majority of your banking online. Basically, if you're under 30 chances are you visit your branch as little as possible.
It's not just the youth though, people of all ages are becoming increasingly comfortable with using an app or website to handle all of their banking needs, not just the simple stuff. Accenture Consulting released the North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey last year. It showed that of the people who switched banks in 2016, 11% chose an online or virtual bank.
A large part of the operating expenses traditional banks face is the upkeep of their brick-and-mortar locations. Completely branchless banks might have a smaller market to work with at the moment, but the savings made on physical locations can translate directly into R&D on new services that will further cement their place in the banking industry.
Banks are still getting bigger
We all know by now that one of the leading factors that caused the 08 financial crisis was a lack of competition and regulation in the financial services industry. Years of consolidation and "shotgun mergers" led to a group of "too big to fail" banks. -and the real loser was the American people.
Now, things have been getting better and there are a plethora of new regulations in place to protect us. But, when it comes to competition in the industry, little has changed. Currently, the six largest banks in the US control 70% of the country's assets. That would be a 40% increase in control over the past decade despite an actual asset growth of just 8%. The largest bank, JP Morgan, has over $2.4 trillion in assets, which is more than the average country.
My point is, while we may have fixed some of our regulatory issues in the financial sector, we've hardly solved the problem of the "too big to fail" banks. The idea of competition amongst the largest banks is a sham, their rates are virtually identical, they just offer their "sales" at different times.
Any industry that lacks competition will begin to stagnate and lose the motivation that drives innovation. The major banks are long overdue for some serious competition.
Banks are starting to realize the disruption is coming
According to Venture Beat's new survey, Big Data Business Impact: Achieving Business Results Through Innovation And Disruption, 40% of financial services executives are worried that their firm and industry is at risk of major disruption in the next decade. A small portion of those execs even share the mindset that "it's transform or die".
Frankly, it's surprising the numbers weren't higher. The financial services industry is on the cusp of major disruption and banks are clearly taking notice. Of the firms surveyed, over 70% stated they were investing in fintech solutions. -and it shows.
The financial tech industry has topped 1000 firms and $105 billion in funding as of this year. While those numbers will begin to diminish as the industry leaders emerge, it's clear that fintech innovation is on everyone's mind this year.
In conclusion, the way we bank is changing, but the banks themselves are sticking to old habits wherever they can. Financial services is an industry that's ripe for disruption, but, the window of opportunity is closing. Any fintech startup that doesn't get started up within the next couple years may find that it was too late.