Consumer Shift in Payment Preferences - What It Means for Financial Services

  • Shanker Ramamurthy, Global Managing Partner Banking, at IBM Services

  • 20.10.2021 11:15 am

1.IBM has been a trusted partner in the financial services industry for decades. What does your role entail?  

In my current position, I lead the banking consulting practice across IBM’s Global Business Services, focusing on banks’ digital transformation, core banking, and payments. 

I am also the President of the IBM Industry Academy, a vibrant and diverse community of IBM’s leaders aiming to shape new solutions that will help our customers thrive. The Academy provides a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with experts from various industries.

My career began almost three decades ago and, since then, I have been fortunate enough to work across six different continents in various consulting roles in the financial services sector. This, along with my current role and involvement with the IBM Industry Academy, gives me a unique perspective and overview of the trends impacting other sectors, which helps me think outside the box for our financial services clients.  

2. Shanker, you have recently been appointed to BIAN’s Executive Board. Can you tell us more about this? 

BIAN stands for the Banking Industry Architecture Network and is a collaborative not-for-profit ecosystem formed of leading banks, technology providers, consultants, and academics from all over the globe. The organization is formed of professionals from the financial and technology industries who are dedicated to lowering the cost of banking and boosting speed to innovation in the industry. Members combine their industry expertise to define a revolutionary banking technology framework that standardizes and simplifies core banking architecture to overcome limitations preventing growth and ease of management in their existing environments.

When I was invited to become a member of the BIAN board, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I am truly honored to join BIAN’s executive board to provide counsel and support their work in helping financial institutions navigate this period of immense opportunity and disruption. Now more so than ever before, BIAN’s open framework, services-oriented architecture, and standards model are critical to the financial services industry.

3. Why are you so passionate about the financial services sector? 

There are many reasons why I am so excited about present and future opportunities across the sector.  However, one reason that stands out to me is how much of an impact it has on everyone’s lives. 

Financial inclusion in particular is something I strongly advocate for and make part of my practice. Financial well-being and access to financial services should be available to all, no matter where you are in the world. So, through my work, I am committed to helping banks around the globe to increase the availability of banking services and reduce the cost point in doing so.   

4. How can the industry do this?

Despite massive investments in technology and innovation – by incumbents and by fintechs and techfins – there is still much to be done to get to inclusive banking globally. Billions of people around the world still lack access to basic financial services. Critical areas such as payments - particularly cross border payments - continue to be expensive and access to credit remains a challenge for so many.

The combination of regulatory efforts such as open banking, industry efforts to create open banking architectures (such as BIAN), and the adoption of open-source hybrid cloud approaches like that of Red Hat is accelerating innovation across the entire banking and financial services ecosystem.

Much is left to be done but it is very encouraging that the combination of all this open technology innovation – coupled with new business models being embraced and adopted by incumbent financial institutions, fintechs and techfins – is democratizing finance like never before.

5. How can banks prepare for the future? 

As banks and fintechs navigate the evolving landscape driven by COVID-19, the changing regulatory environment and more, the financial services industry is being shaped by new consumer trends – from the rise of a cashless society to the pandemic-driven shift towards online banking and mobile payments.

To support these changes, there will be a continued focus on technological development this year and beyond. The winners of tomorrow will be the banks who have a technology and business strategy to support the bank of the future and are prioritizing innovation powered by hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence. BIAN has a significant role in helping banks do just this.

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