Start of 2020, the world economy was already facing uncertainty with aftermath of Brexit, slowing demand in China, automotive industry challenges, disturbances in OPEC countries. The world was preparing itself to face a slowdown. Come February, the corona pandemic which was not even on the horizon, arrived and within a span of few days it ‘shut down’ the global economy. Suddenly economic slowdown was passé, the world started pondering the question ‘Restart’. The impact was unprecedented. As per some experts, it would at least take six months to restart and further 2 more years to reach the pre -pandemic levels.
Lockdowns impacted the BFS vertical severely. Major Economies contracted – USA marked the first negative GDP reading since the 1.1% decline in the first quarter of 2014 and the 8.4% plunge during the 2008 financial crisis (source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/29/us-gdp-q1-2020-first-reading.html), United Kingdom’s economy shrank by a huge 20 (source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53019360), the Indian economy contracted up to 3.2% (source: shorturl.at/bivw3). Currently several industries across the globe are running at 25% capacity.
The Banking and Financial institutions are under pressure to ensure ‘business-as-usual’ amidst the crisis. The key challenge for the companies is to balance employee’s health, safety and customer expectations. The BFSI sector needs to monitor the effects of COVID-19 closely. The sector will have to closely monitor credit risk assessment, liquidity, hedging strategies etc. The business leaders had to don their creative hats to come up with effective solutions to tide over these challenging times. Summing up the challenges is a quote from Charanjit S Attra, EY India Financial Services and Financial Accounting Advisory Services (FAAS) Partner – “COVID-19 would impact the financial statements of the entities in the financial services in the areas of ECL, business model assessment, post balance sheet events and certain other key areas.” (source: https://www.ey.com/en_in/covid-19/how-the-pandemic-is-impacting-the-bfsi-sector-in-india).
BFSI organisations have to become resilient to keep themselves relevant in the post-COVID-19 world, here is how:
- Managing finances properly: To survive in the post-COVID recession, the business should properly monitor and forecast their cash flow, revenue, and costs.
- Keep a watch on market trends: The business should keep an eye on the changing market conditions, customer demands, and needs.
- Build customer relations: Businesses should focus on adapting as per customer needs and focus on improving customer satisfaction/engagement.
- Curtail unnecessary costs: Analyze expenses and cut down wherever possible.
Luckily, before the pandemic struck, there were many tools already available. These tools and concepts had to be further adapted for enhanced applicability. For this purpose, Internet of things (IoT) is one of the tools which is set to gain greater prominence. IoT is a network of devices connected through the internet to obtain and transmit data. The communication happening between devices allow for optimization, reduction of costs, boosting productivity, and increasing customer confidence.
Deployment of IoT will favour improvement in conditions. Following are the ways in which IoT is going to shape the future of banking and financial services sector:
- Pay from anywhere
- Every IoT device has the ability to become a POS (point of saale) device. The recently implemented FastTag is good example of In-Vehicle arrangement which has facilitated payment of tolls. Also, with the increased usage of voice activated devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home – handling banking queries can be done from the safety of the home. This adds to the increased engagement with customers.
- Better security from fraud
- In times of pandemic, when people are focused more towards health concerns, felonious minds are more active. Analysing customer spending habits and device tracking is possible with IoT. Therefore, in case of fraudulent transactions, a financial institution can block the transaction. This helps in building trust.
- Service expansion
- Using IoT to foster trust and strong relationship is a good idea. By analysing spending habits and credit card usage, Banks can advice in some cases warn users. In turn they can also offer schemes which would help a user. U.S. bank has also initiated a programme for its customers to stay fit. Customers are given health objectives, on achieving them, customers are granted bonuses and gift coupons.
- Improved analysis
- Banks and financial institutions can analyse user data faster. With IoT its also possible to generate granular data, and pin- point pain areas for customers and operations.
- Business – as – usual
- IoT has made it possible for the BFSI sector to convey the notion of Business- as – usual during the times of lockdowns and pandemics. Though a very ‘unsung’ effort- the confidence of being able to check bank balance in a lockdown was great confidence builder.
The BFSI sector has been using IoT deftly since its advent. But with the pandemic and frozen economies, IoT will need to empowered further. FinTech is a dynamic field and it keeps changing almost every six months. As said – Change is the only constant- one can expect a lot of changes in the BFSI sector. In hind sight, these are interesting times to observe about how IoT will be implemented to improve customer and business experience.
By Amar Tumplwar VP & BusinessDevelopment at Boston Financial Advisory Group
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