• Ather Williams III is the head of strategy, digital platform, and innovation at Wells Fargo.
  • He manages innovation priorities, opportunities, and firm-wide initiatives to drive transformation.
  • In this op-ed, Williams outlines the key themes in banking in 2022.

The banking industry , with its legacy infrastructure, has historically been slow to adopt technological innovation.

However, fintechs have proven to be a disruptive force — particularly through the pandemic — which has forced banks to reevaluate their need to keep pace with technology and recognize how collaboration with fintechs could help them thrive.

As 2022 is shaping up to be a year of notable advancements for innovation and technology across the industry, here are a few ways we will likely see banks continue to use collaboration and digitization to forge ahead into a new financial ecosystem.

With consumer adoption of digital payments accelerating faster than ever before, integration of banking experiences will become table stakes for businesses

We’re living in a world where consumers can shop directly through their social-media platform of choice or have food delivered with the tap of a finger. But as new platforms and digital spending opportunities arise, financial institutions must keep up with the pace of innovation and offer secure, integrated methods to help power seamless payment transactions wherever the customer is.

Already, we are seeing a significant increase in application programming interfaces, or APIs, developed to integrate banking information and functionality into a user’s digital context of choice.

This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for ecommerce and paves the way for a truly integrated payments ecosystem . As we look to the future, it’s also important to recognize that consumers will continue to expect privacy and security across the digital shopping experience, so strategic relationships between trusted financial institutions and innovative fintechs will be key.

Banks will leverage data to create more personalized customer experiences that will benefit the customer in new ways

Data is already helping prevent fraud, process speedier transactions, and make basic recommendations for better financial health. But if done right, what’s next is even more exciting: revolutionizing the customer experience from start to finish.

Consumers are opting to share more personal information than ever before, with the expectation that a company will use that information to know them, anticipate their needs, offer them something they value, and make their lives easier.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are empowering companies to treat each person as a unique individual rather than as part of a customer segment, which means customers will receive a much more personalized experience tailored to their specific needs.

Imagine a scenario in which a customer can choose to receive alerts when their available balance may not cover upcoming anticipated activity on their account. We would then be able to provide them with an option to transfer funds to cover the expense and, in turn, potentially avoid late fees.

Ultimately, we would strive to use key insights from historical transactional data to help enhance a customer’s financial wellness.

Banks and fintechs will continue to collaborate together for better customer experiences

More than ever before, the future of banking will rely on strategic relationships to create value for customers across a variety of ecosystems.

It isn’t about fintech vs. banking — but rather, about leveraging the data and scale of banks with the nimbleness and innovation of fintech firms to create a result that is better than the sum of its parts. Already, banks and fintechs are coming together to implement API solutions that enable customer-permissioned data sharing.

As with all fast-growing sectors, these predictions pose great opportunities as well as notable challenges. Integrated banking, more personalized customer experiences, and strategic relationships with fintechs have great potential to unlock new growth in banking.

However, as the industry evolves, challenges such as newer and more sophisticated security threats are likely to emerge and will require the industry to think critically about threat response and security solutions.

The next 12 months will be key for the industry as banks and fintechs work together and integrate innovative technologies that will ultimately benefit customers and help to foster a truly collaborative financial ecosystem.

Ather Williams III is senior executive vice president and head of strategy, digital platform, and innovation at Wells Fargo. He’s responsible for leading corporate strategic planning, defining and managing digital platform standards and capabilities, and managing innovation priorities, opportunities, and company-wide efforts to drive transformation. He serves on the Wells Fargo Operating Committee and is based in New York.

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