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How technology will transform banking in 2016: Blockchain, digital challengers and IoT

Matthew Finnegan | Jan. 4, 2016
Industry experts make predictions for 2016.

Financial district banks square mile

During 2015 the big UK banks continued to invest in modernising their infrastructure as well as focus on delivering services through digital channels.

But the competitive landscape has intensified as they continue to fight on a number of fronts, and the wave of fintech startups, digital challengers and tech giants present a threat that is unlikely to go away soon.

At the same time, a wave of innovation in the sector offers a number of opportunities for those that are able to move quickly. Blockchain has certainly been the clearest example this year.

So what will set the banking technology agenda in 2016?

Banks will come under increased pressure from tech giants

It is no secret that a major concern for the big banks is having their lunch eaten by the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. And we can expect these internet behemoths to build on their consumer relationships and make further inroads into payments next year.

Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payments service this year, and others such as Samsung are set to move into the market with similar offerings too. While Barclays has its own wallet, Pingit, it will be interesting to see if other banks attempt to stake a claim in this market too, or leave it to the big tech firms.

"A concern that the banks have is the arrival of big ecosystems that will replace them, so Google, Facebook, Apple, etc," says Alessandro Hatami, former digital payments and innovation director at UK bank Lloyds.

"These are customer-based. The customers are already users of these environments. If they start pushing financial services to their own customer bases, these ecosystems can potentially take customers away from the banks."

Philippe Gelis, CEO of P2P currency exchange Kantox adds: "These tech giants are unlikely to ever become banks, but they are best placed to build user friendly front-end tech solutions that answer to consumer demands for seamless payments and financial services."

Digital challenger banks will ramp up competition on incumbent UK lenders

It may appear unlikely that one of the new challenger banks that have emerged this year will spell the end for the big UK banks, especially when considering the slow uptake of the account switching service launched in 2013.

But by building their offerings around digital services from the get-go, the likes of Starling, Mondo, Atom and - more recently - Tandem, offer an intriguing alternative that could reshape the banking landscape.

2016 will shed some light on whether these upstart challengers can steal a move on some of the incumbents as they continue to focus on improving legacy infrastructure.


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