It poses basic questions, such as: Who is our real competitor? How can we make our products and services cheaper and better? What value do we offer to our customers?


That last question is certainly on the minds of everyone who voted in the live poll at our Fintech 2020 Sydney event on 25 May 2016.

An overwhelming 62 per cent of attendees said that by 2020, their biggest increase in investment will be in customer experience, far outpacing market expansion (17 per cent), regulatory compliance (10 per cent), and even disruptive technologies or companies (9 per cent).

Similarly, customer experience was the top choice when they were asked where big data can deliver the biggest advantage by 2020. Interestingly, almost half of attendees – 44 percent – believe that mobile and wearable technology is the most compelling advancement for their business.

So it’s no surprise that my colleague Richard Palmer’s presentation on FIS’ PACE Index was closely followed by the audience.

Richard, who is a managing director in our Banking and Payments division, revealed the Australian results for our consumer banking index, which gauges bank performance against customer expectations.

We surveyed approximately 1,000 Australians with bank accounts and found that customer priorities are safety of their money, ease of product use and customised products that address their individual needs.

While customers want safe and simple banking solutions that help them in their day-to-day lives, that doesn’t mean that banks can ignore fintech innovations. Millennials want digital access to banking services, for example. So it’s encouraging to see our poll respondents recognise the importance of mobile technology.

But mobile was just one of the paradigm shifts discussed by our keynote speaker, Ian Dunbar, founder and director of Afiniation, a virtual network of fintech start-ups in Australia and New Zealand.

He also pointed to the paradigm ‘ZMOT’, or the zero moment of truth – the point in the buying cycle when the consumer researches a product, often before the seller even knows that they exist.

Other shifts include the desire for instant gratification and digital unbundling and uncoupling.

All of these topics were up for discussion in the closing panel, which also touched on blockchain technology, robotics process automation and the digital customer experience.

Arjan Bloemer, executive director in EY’s Financial Services Operations and Transformation practice, admitted that many people still look at blockchain sceptically, but said that every major bank in Australia – as well as many others around the world – has launched blockchain initiatives.

And robotics process automation offers a potential new definition of outsourcing. In fact, predictions say that with the advent of robotics and blockchain, 40-50 per cent of current roles in financial roles will disappear in the next five to 10 years.

John Lonergan, head of Qantas Direct for Qantas Airways, which manages all customer interactions outside flying, agreed with Ian that customers expect instant gratification and a completely stable and reliable service.

In this new digital age, there must also be trust between the customer and the business – and it goes both ways, just like the huge amount of information that both parties share.

While digitalisation may not directly increase revenue, it makes customers more sticky and increases internal productivity.

Ian added that digital also defends revenue, especially if competitors are innovating.

The industry’s fast adoption of these innovations, rather than the entrance of new disruptive companies, will drive the disruption.

He cited his experience during a recent overseas trip when he lost his wallet and was able to manage for six days because American Express provided him with a virtual card via Apple Pay.

Then there’s the impact of fintech innovation on companies’ cultures. As John said during the panel discussion, the digital experience has an important cultural component, and it needs to be led from the chief executive on down.

Catherine Melville is FIS Australia and New Zealand’s managing director for institutional and wholesale.