With 2014 complete, we can finally look back and say that it has been a good year overall. From a consumer standpoint, there were a number of positives - ranging from a stronger economy to new technologies - with each making things a little bit easier.
Positive changes have been felt in the financial services industry as well, as banks and credit unions large and small are seeing the effects of economic improvement and increased consumer confidence. And, now that 2014 is over, it is time to look ahead to 2015.
The key in the new year will be technology. Banks are focused on implementing the best and brightest trends, including secure cash recyclers, mobile payment applications and other tools and gadgets to streamline the customer experience.
While the trends in 2015 will be broad, here are three of the biggest expected during the next 12 months:
1. Resilient brick-and-mortar banking
The No. 1 trend in 2015 could easily be mobile banking. However, even with its popularity, mobile banking has yet to render brick-and-mortar branches obsolete. In its annual preview of mobile banking, financial data firm RateWatch found that mobile banking isn't as popular as it seems. When polling bankers, RateWatch found that 70 percent of their consumers under 30 years old consider mobile banking as a "must-have" or a "nice-to-have." Even so, 75 percent of the financial institutions noted that less than 25 percent of consumers actually use mobile banking services.
While popular, it isn't likely that mobile banking will be the most common form of banking in 2015.
2. Improved online and in-person security
Who is the person on the other end of the transaction? This is a question that has become increasingly hard to answer, especially given the rise of mobile and electronic banking. For financial institutions, one of the biggest trends in 2015 will be improved security, according to The Financial Brand. Not only do banks have to ensure the identities of their customers, they also have to protect their personal information and maintain branch security. This can be achieved via quality cash management techniques, online safety measures and staff training, just to name a few.
3. Outside-the-box and innovative thinking
The landscape of the financial services industry is wildly different than it was even five years ago. As a result, today's banks - and those that will be successful in 2015 - are looking for outside-the-box, innovative solutions to stay ahead. It could be as simple as a creative branch redesign to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. Or, as explained by The Financial Brand, it could involve unique partnerships with startups, alternative financial products and much more. Above all else, a key trend in 2015 will be the desire to grow and adapt in the industry.
So then, what is the future of the financial services industry? In 2015, expect to see banks that are looking to pair mobile platforms with their brick-and-mortar branches, all while reaping the rewards of a stronger economy and improved consumer confidence.