We're experiencing a massive shift in consumer behavior right now with the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other community collaboration and social media platforms. A world where Facebook has 800 million inhabitants and a "president" who is a college dropout (albeit Harvard).
We're seeing the global domination of mobile across the entire world, where before long every person on the planet will have a mobile phone -- and soon that phone will be a wallet. Smartphone owners will be the majority in just a few years as smartphones are virtually free on contract, and unlimited data is bundled free. Already the average smartphone user spends more time using apps than they do using an Internet browser on their computer.
The traditional players amongst us say that such things don't really change the fundamentals, that "it will take time for people to trust these new mechanisms."
I'll never login with Facebook to my bank.
I won't pay with my mobile phone unless I understand how secure it is. This NFC technology is too new and there's no common standard.
The same people who said this probably said...
I'll never use email, there's nothing like calling someone or a face-to-face discussion to solve a problem
I'll never use an ATM machine, I don't trust a machine to give me money.
I'll never get a cell phone -- I don't want people to be able to call me whenever and wherever I am.
I will never put my credit card details on a website online -- are you crazy?
I'll never bank online. Not in my lifetime...
I'll never need a Facebook account -- it's a waste of time, it's just for college students.
If you are saying you won't do something that millions of other people are already doing, that's a sure sign that it's going to disrupt the hell out of your business and you're in trouble.
If you're not planning to work differently, if you're not thinking differently, then you're just out of touch, you're just one step away from irrelevance. You're fighting the flow upstream and getting pushed towards disaster.
The one constant of the internet-enabled world is that you have to be ready to change constantly. Resistence is not only futile, it's stupid and very costly in the long run. It's cheap and easy to be social right now, same for mobile -- it won't be in the future.
Right now you have two choices.
Start experimenting with how to adapt to these new methods
Start figuring out what people want to talk about on social media. When they're using their phones at a store, for searching on products, when they check-in, tweet or update their Facebook status.
Start talking to them. Start sharing content that isn't marketing messages pushed down their throat, but helps them.
Start trusting consumers to talk to you about your brand, your products and about what they want from their bank or services provider. Understand you can't control the conversation, but you can and should participate in it.
Open up new products and services based on social media. Get consumers to give voice to their needs and help you form those ideas. OCBC, DBS, First Direct, ASB and Comm Bank are all trying different types of crowdsourcing to develop better relationships with their customer base.
OR... Ignore the obvious, get ready to be displaced
Our customers don't feel safe using Facebook for login!
But some of them might... how long before most of them will? How do you meet your KYC requirements and keep customers safe when allowing them to do this? Are you going to wait till everyone else is doing it, or are you going to learn how to do it properly and securely now. Are you asking your compliance teams to find ways of figuring out how to do this stuff safely?
It will take years for the mobile wallet and NFC to take off!
Right now Google and Apple are eating your lunch and you don't even know it. You are getting ready to write off the one device that is most critical for connections and context with your customers in the later part of this decade. Someone else is going to own your customers, and as banks we're going to be paying the likes of Google to include our branded card in their wallet, or our products and services and messages on their platform.
We already have to ask permission from Google and Apple to give our customers our App.
Don't want to change! You will...
The fact is most of the last two decades we've been facing constant change, and no one organization has been able to resist the shift because customers decide how and when you'll engage with them.
Customers have already decided they want their mobile device to be their bank. They've already decided that they want to discuss your brand and your service capability in the open community of social media.
If you're a bank, it's time for you to decide whether you want to stay relevant to your customers, or ignore the obvious and go away.
Follow Brett King on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brettking