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While most of the responses seem intuitive, the underlying response is more complex and, in simple terms, it depends. So I want to pose a different question, what initiatives should banks have underway (or look to start this year)? 

The first initiative is among the most talked about in the entire industry, Big Data. 

This is an extremely complex topic, but at the heart of the issue is that a bank needs to “know” each and every customer it has. 

There is little more frustrating to a long-tenured bank client than being offered a credit card that they either already have, or have refused more than 3 times (I am being lenient on 3 because I do understand that FIs need to sell, and the offer itself may change for the card…e.g. 50k bonus points to a $500 statement credit or something like that). 

Big Data is a massive Pandora’s Box in which it’s easy to get lost, but for me, the best place to start is simple, the CRM. Get that right and connected to every part of the bank and Big Data will instantly become an exercise in useful data.  

The second initiative is The Branch of the Future, or Digital Transformation. 

This is a sticky topic and one that results in animated ‘back and forths,’ nee arguments. I think it also plays into some misunderstandings around demographics so let’s clear some of the air here. 

When I talk about The Branch of the Future, it isn’t just kiosks and digital displays in the waiting areas of existing branches, though those are likely an interim solution. 

What my discussions on the Branch of the Future center around are truly a marrying together of the digital channels so each and every touchpoint—whether it is in the physical location (of a kiosk, ATM, call center or branch) or the virtual location (of the home iPad or TV)—is connected and consistent. 

I think the demographic discussion muddies the waters on this topic as the incorrect notion that the millennial demographic wants only digital and the boomers only want in-person. The truth is we/people/consumers want INDIVIDUAL experiences, to which the digital channels hold the key (whether in-person or not)…tailor the experience, that’s the key!!  

The third initiative has to be payment transformation. 

I don’t remember a time where the ability to move money was in more of a dramatic growth and transformative position than the one in which we find ourselves today. 

Think about this, in the past 10+ years we have seen the introduction and mass rollout of RDC (both at the ATM and from the Mobile Device), P2P payments explode, EMV rollout in the U.S., NFC payments from cards and mobile devices, QR code mobile payments, and virtual currencies (e.g. Bitcoin). 

And this is on top of all of the existing payment types that consumers had access to before the iPhone was announced by Steve Jobs (9 years ago this year… still not even a decade old). The payments space is moving at warp speed and it’s incredibly important, to say the least, to have an infrastructure in place that enables rapid adoption. 

So while there are a gazillion and one areas we all could be putting our money toward in 2016, those would be the ones I would make sure are well underway by the time our 2017 predictions come out.  

Happy New Year everyone!

Head of Digital Banking Solutions

As the Head of Digital Banking Solutions, Mark works closely with financial institutions discussing, exploring, and examining market trends and key drivers in the evolving digital solutions space with a key focus on mobile, tablet and the future of wearable technology. Prior to moving into the sales organization Mark was Senior Product Marketing Manager for ACI's Digital Banking solutions. He was responsible for developing and executing product launch and go to market activities for the related product lines. Prior to joining ACI in 2012, Mark worked at Greenwich Associates as a Senior Project Director on their Custom Projects team. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lafayette College.  The future of Fintech and where the digital banking evolution will take us is at the heart of what Mark reads about, researches, discusses, promotes and debates. As a proud card carrying millennial, Mark's primary goal is to bring a fresh yet informed point of view to the discussion. It is truly an exciting time to be in the industry as everything down to the foundation of the financial society is being challenged by innovative individuals and start-ups alike. Mark looks forward to helping companies and banks alike navigate the disruptive environment they are in today towards a successful future.