For most Young Credit Professionals of Australia (YCPA) our first banking experience started with a Commonwealth Bank Dollarmite savings account, we were excited about the moneybox rather than the saving aspect. As we matured into adolescents so did the banking experience.
In years to come we will all have a story to tell our children of when we had to wait in line at the branch for 20 minutes patiently watching the flip clock. The reaction will be priceless given what their first banking experience will be.
Technology and innovation was revolutionary in the late 2000's driving us to the 'Mobile Commerce' generation with the ability to pay bills, do our internet banking and open new accounts simply with the use of our mobile. Something we definitely could not do on a Nokia 5110.
Since 2009 we have all felt the strong presence of digital marketing and online shopping. What did the banks do to cater for our online shopping obsession? They admitted the ATM card for plastic surgery! We now refer to it as a 'Debit Card' with its new appearance, rewards programs and greater security with the 'Europay MasterCard Visa' (EMV) chip making online purchasing easier using our own money.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics have reported in 2009 that online retail sales totalled $24 billion with the most popular purchases being travel and accommodation. In recent years with apps such as Groupon, daily deals, RedBalloon and other sites there is no need to be stalking for a car park during Christmas week, as we can shop online.
As our debit and credit cards evolve so do the payment methods. Over the last 5 years PayPass and PayWave have made us wave goodbye to signing for retail purchases. In years to come I am sure we will soon be farewelling the PIN. Our cards will always revisit the surgeon for a 'nip and tuck' to keep up with customers evolving needs in a card with added benefits and tighter security.
We have all experienced the gut wrenching feeling of leaving our wallet or purse at home and only realising half way to work. In 2015 Westpac and Commonwealth bank successfully launched its 'Cardless Cash' service enabling us to use our mobile banking app to withdraw money. If you leave both your phone and wallet at home then I hope the apple from the recent fruit box delivery is still on your desk as it seems this will be your replacement lunch.
In the last 6 years our banks have flexed their 'CANSTAR' achievements through their innovation, products and services as rated by consumers. Some banks have invested over $500 million on innovation, behavioural science, analytics, digital software and social media platforms just to know us better. Smart move.
Banks have tailored credit products and services to meet customer needs and wants. For example, our banks have increased their airline affiliations getting us closer to the departure gates in style by converting retail expenses into frequent flier miles with added benefits such as lounge access and travel insurance. Flying like a YCPA should!
Cricket fanatic or not we were all captured by the Commonwealth Bank advertisements on Facebook. Did they win me over? Yes. The advertisements flooded my newsfeed and I began reading cricket club stories then finding myself calculating my borrowing power. This is a perfect example of our banks innovative marketing strategies through the use of social media.
The evolution of banking in Australia has been exciting but has it created a cause and effect for consumers leaving us now financially over committed?
Sure, we can be faster than John Wayne to draw out our credit card when we see interest free deals online but can we repay this within the interest free period?
Putting aside the increase of cost of living in Australia, household debts have soared in recent years. The most worrying fact is that in 1990 the average household debt represented less than six months of annual income. That has now tripled to 18 months of annual income.
The Australian Financial Security Authority of Australia reported in September 2014 that 3000 debt agreements were lodged within the demographic age of 18-24. I think it's time for schools to begin educating students on credit consequences and safety sooner than later, don't you? They are the future of the Australian economy.
Who is to blame for all this debt? It is us, the consumers. Australian consumers in recent years have focused on satisfying more of the wants in life as opposed to the needs.
Moving forward to 2020, Australian consumers will need to act smart when it comes to credit. It is easy to fall into the trap of effective marketing strategies but we as consumers need to exercise careful judgement, rather than instinct. The greater the household debt increases in Australia the stronger the scent of a financial crisis gets.
Is the lead up to 2020 in banking going to be evolutionary or revolutionary? Truth be told, it will be both. The banking sector will face greater challenges on how to win a greater customer base as they will continue to flex their innovations in response to the evolving forces of customer expectations, regulatory requirements, technology, demographics and shifting economics. How we as consumers contribute and handle the changes will determine the future of our economy.
Amaran Navaratnam is Business Development Manager Assistant at Recoveriescorp. www.recoveriescorp.com.au