Established brands also making mark in fin-tech

As final services experience rapid transformation, it’s easy to assume that most of the change is being driven by fin-techs but they are not alone.

Well-known and established brands are also playing a part in the change we see, Wells Fargo EVP and head of partnerships and industry relations Braden More said.

The nature of the normal interaction between client and institution is changing, Mr. More explained. While in the past the majority, if not all, of a person’s dealings were with the bank around the corner, the current norm is interaction with multiple brands through money transfer services, e-wallets, wearables, and, coming soon in a big way, appliances and cars.

Braden More

“In all of these areas we recognize our customers want Wells Fargo to work in these areas,” Mr. More said.

Customers will still directly interact with established institutions, but it is incumbent upon those entities to restructure so they can better respond to changing preferences, Mr. More added. All payment team members, including those responsible for debit cards, credit cards and merchant services, are reporting to a single executive who ensures activities and messaging are consistent.

“With them all under one leader we’re getting some cross-pollination,” Mr. More explained while adding the approach has paid dividends in areas like their wallet launch.

As customers become more accustomed to dealing with multiple brands at one time, strong customer service is crucial if the institutions wants to retain that customer. That has to be top of mind when designing and rolling out a new service, Mr. More said.

“We want to create a beautiful customer experience in our ecosystem and make payments easy for those paying with our product. We have to sit down and figure out how to make that happen.”

Developing technology is one thing, but making sure it functions at scale, especially the scale needed from an institution as large as Wells Fargo. Ensuring it works and is backed by consistent customer service “takes some thoughtful and deliberate effort on our part,” Mr. More said.

With the abundance of opportunities coming thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) it’s easy to get overwhelmed when plotting a development strategy, but there is a clear way to approach the situation, Mr. More suggested.

“The IoT can seem like an unstructured environment with different devices and connection points. I argue that companies have organized ecosystems that track preferences that can tame IoT.

“Most identify as either iOS or Android. Those operating systems create a common platform inside the IoT that can move through devices, extract payment credentials and become integrated and controlled.

“For us to be there to facilitate commerce, our focus is to make sure there are safe and easy commerce and payments inside the ecosystem.”

When evaluating the merits of new technology like wearables, it is best to take a historical view of how our interactions with financial institutions have changed over the years, Mr. More said. First, we always had to go to the branch. Then came the ATM which offered more convenience, before websites and mobile banking allowed us to bank on demand. Wearables are the next logical step as they can always be with you, even more than your mobile.

The nature of those interactions are changing, and with many coming through third parties, it is even more important to brand those experiences as Wells Fargo, Mr. More said. Some in the industry have predicted the development of a chip inserted under our skin.

“Whenever and however customers choose to act, we’ll be there to support them,” Mr. More said.