(London, UK): The 1990s saw the emergence of the first wave of Challenger Banks in the UK – including Virgin Direct (1995), Sainsbury’s Bank (1997) and Tesco Personal Finance (1997). Their intention was to take on the established big banking players. However, as time has passed, they have moved in unintended directions.

With the recent purchase of Tesco Bank by Barclays, the imminent purchase of Virgin Money by Nationwide, and the ongoing process for Sainsbury’s Bank to identify an appropriate exit route for its full suite of banking products, the established banking players have taken control of the core original Challenger banks. The ownership of M&S Bank as a wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC (since 2004) can be added to this list.

Increased regulation—including interchange restrictions, higher capital requirements, the cost of capital, the cost of rewards, and economic turbulence—has made it too challenging for these entities to operate independently. What might this mean for the more recent Challenger banks?

The newer wave of Challenger banks, including Monzo, Starling, and Revolut have taken a very different approach to differentiate themselves from the mainstream. Whilst the 1990s wave focused on leveraging established brand names and existing distribution channels, the more recent wave has emphasized innovation, technology and a digital-first approach.

Slick, digital sign-up processes have attracted significant customer volumes for these players (Monzo with more than 7 million customers, Starling with 3.6 million, and Revolut with over 30 million globally). However, profitability remains a challenge for many.

“If the mainstream players feel they need to compete more directly, there are three possible approaches to consider,” says Simon Cottenham, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma. “Spin-off their own digital banks to compete head-on with the Challenger banks, invest in the digital approaches and apply these to their mainstream products, or ultimately look to invest in or buy-out a Challenger bank and bring their capabilities in-house.”

The future of Challenger banks is murky at best. It remains to be seen if the new wave will be able to compete in the long-term with their largest competitors, or ultimately be absorbed by the high street banks like the original Challengers.

About Auriemma Group

For 40 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or contact Simon Cottenham at simon.cottenham@auriemma.group.

(London, UK) Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a key focus for retail banking operations in recent months. Auriemma Group’s latest series of roundtables tackled the ever-growing space, discussing current usage of AI solutions and how members plan to utilize AI to further enhance their offerings.

“There’s a significant amount of interest in AI across all operational areas,” says Nicole Toussaint, Senior Manager of Industry Roundtables at Auriemma. “Although we’re seeing some hesitation in deploying it, I expect we’ll see some big moves by industry players over the coming months.”

Across all operational areas, firms are hoping to leverage AI to assist front-line employees with navigating their knowledge management systems. This would hopefully improve the accuracy of agent work and help to reduce lengthy training periods. Additionally, firms are considering using the tool enterprise-wide to produce meeting minutes and to assist in communications drafting.

In the Collections and Recoveries space, firms hope to use the tool in their contact strategies. Roundtable members believe that AI can make their contact more effective by creating more bespoke strategies. The technology can help firms decide the optimal time to contact customers, the most effective channel to make contact, and the most engaging messaging and content to use.

Fraud Departments see an opportunity to use AI to improve their current fraud detection models to identify bad actors and fraudulent payments more quickly. Several firms have already partnered with vendors who provide AI-powered fraud mitigation tools.

On the Servicing side, firms are discussing improvements to their chatbot offerings. Currently, many chatbots are FAQ-based, but firms believe that AI can revolutionise the chatbot experience and improve satisfaction scores in the channel.

“We see a clear opportunity to leverage AI to provide dynamic call scripting to front-line agents,” says Toussant. “This would take some of the pressure off agents when servicing and allow banks to provide a more tailored, well-informed customer experience.”

In the Disputes and Chargebacks space, one firm is already using an AI-integrated optical character resolution (OCR) tool to read customer documents provided as proof in a disputes case. Many firms hope to use AI to gain efficiencies in the disputes process. They believe that the tool can help guide agent decisions as they work cases by pulling in bank, scheme, and regulatory policies.

Similarly, in the Complaints space, members see an opportunity for AI to help complaints agents while investigating. AI can not only analyse the materials provided by the complainant but also bring in insights from previously decisioned cases and Financial Ombudsman (FOS) decisions. In this process, the technology can also guide the agent in classifying the complaint type. Some also noted that AI could potentially assist agents with drafting final response letters.

This topic is expected to become an evergreen topic at Auriemma Roundtable meetings, especially as firms identify new use cases and as Auriemma brings in experts from the field to drive further thought leadership.

The next set of roundtable meetings are scheduled for June and July at the Edwardian Hotel in Manchester. If you or any of your colleagues are interested in attending as our guests, please contact us via roundtables@auriemma.group.

About Auriemma Group

For 40 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or contact Nicole Toussaint at nicole.toussaint@auriemma.group.

After a very successful inaugural meeting and growing client demand, we’re excited to announce that we have finalised the date for our next Regulatory Compliance and Privacy Roundtable on the 28th of February in London.

During this session, we intend to continue to do a deep dive into how firms are implementing the New Consumer Duty into their business, and also intend to cover Operational Resiliency, PSD3, CCA Reform, Buy-Now-Pay-Later Regulation, Financial Inclusion and Access to Cash, and more.

The roundtable meeting will span over a day and a half and follow an agenda built exclusively from inputs from attendees. After the first day’s meeting, there will also be a group dinner, where attendees will have the opportunity to network amongst their peers.

If you or any of your colleagues are interested in joining this session, please reach out to Nicole Toussaint at nicole.toussaint@auriemma.group.

Last week concluded our autumn set of roundtables, where we had representation from 23 financial services firms.

As always, the roundtables consisted of ample networking opportunities and engaging discussions. Some highlights from the meetings were:

  • Our Fraud Control Roundtable did deep dives into application and social engineering fraud trends and mitigation techniques.
  • Stephanie Fitzgerald opened up the Customer Service and Complaints Roundtable meeting with a presentation on wellness in the workplace, which was a catalyst for an in-depth discussion on how the industry is currently supporting its employees.
  • The Collections and Recoveries Roundtable shared best practices for becoming more digital in both communication strategies as well as in the income and expenditure process.

Our next set of meetings will be in March 2024. If you’d like to get involved, please reach out to us via roundtables@auriemma.group.

(London, UK): Mercedes-Benz recently announced a new partnership with Mastercard to offer embedded in-car payments using a fingerprint sensor at petrol stations in Germany. The new service, made possible via Mercedes Pay+, will be available to use at 3,600 service stations across the country, eliminating the need to enter a PIN or authenticate with a mobile device.

Though this is a world first and has created a lot of buzz around the industry, usage is limited to less than one-fifth (17%) of the total amount of service stations across Germany. Mercedes says that fingerprint payments from the car will be extended soon to other vehicle-related services and to other European markets.

“Like with all new payment technology, for it to become widely used there needs to be integration on both sides of the issuing and acquiring network” says Simon Cottenham, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma Group. “Before contactless terminals became widely available at retailers and on public transport, contactless cards acted no differently to traditional chip and pin only models, so how and when service stations and other vehicle-related services roll out the ability to accept this innovative way to pay will be key to its success.”

Mercedes and Mastercard’s strategic, limited rollout will help inform how consumers will utilise this type of technology in the future, and how willing they are to adopt.

(London, UK): Apple announced this month that it is harnessing Open Banking APIs to deliver new features to Apple Wallet users. As part of the beta version of its iOS 17.1 update, customers can check their current account balances, transaction history and available credit directly in Apple Wallet. This will be rolled out to all customers when iOS 17.1 is officially released later in October. The current version is compatible with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Monzo, RBS and Starling and is expected to expand to additional banks over time.

These improvements may further differentiate Apple Pay usage from its competitors Google and Samsung Pay. According to Auriemma Group’s latest issue of Cardbeat UK, Apple is the most popular of the bunch, with 17% of credit cardholders currently using Apple Pay, compared to 14% for Google Pay and 5% for Samsung Pay. Usage of Apple Pay notably rises to 47% among those ages 18-34.

The use of Open Banking APIs gives cardholders yet another reason to leave their wallets at home. Research from global card issuing platform Marqeta found that 73% of mobile wallet users feel confident enough to “leave their wallet at home, and only rely on their mobile phones for making payments.”

“Apple’s latest integration is another positive step for Open Banking and mobile wallet usage in the UK,” says Simon Cottenham, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma Group. “Where previously one could view their Santander current account balance within their HSBC app, Wallet is a centralised app that is already used by millions of UK consumers today. As ever with Open Banking technology, compatibility with a broad reach of banks is key to its customer appeal and success, so Apple should focus on broadening its reach while it is ahead of the curve.”

Auriemma Group will continue to monitor this space closely in upcoming Cardbeat studies.

Survey Methodology

This Auriemma Research study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in July 2023, among 801 adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed on a monthly basis is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification.

(London, UK) Financial services customer complaint volumes are set to increase amid the uncertain macroeconomic environment and customers’ growing awareness of potential complaint payouts. According to Auriemma Group’s latest Customer Service and Complaints Roundtable, approximately one-third of members have already reported increases in the last three months. This, coupled with customers’ growing desire to complain via voice, will require firms to invest in their complaints management strategies.

“The increase in complaints volume is a real threat to operational efficiency – quick wins will be hard to come by,” says Louis Stevens, Director of Industry Roundtables. “This will likely lead to increased call volumes, the need for further headcount, longer resolving timeframes, higher redress values, and a heightened reputational risk.”

Although customers are showing a growing preference to self-serve for most transaction types, Auriemma’s research found that filing a complaint is one of the few areas where preference for voice chat is growing (i.e., 30% of respondents preferring voice in Q2-23 up from 22% in Q2-21). However, while some consumers may prefer voice chat, the channel is more costly to service and can often be less efficient. Streamlining this channel is crucial for success.

“We’ve heard some great examples of how firms are tackling these trends in our roundtable network,” says Stevens. “Some are empowering front-line agents to resolve at the first point of contact, others are increasing the number of SMS updates they send customers to reduce repeat contact, and a few have implemented a front-line phone team to deescalate and categorise complaints, all of which have already led to noticeable efficiencies.”

Looking ahead, roundtable members have indicated an intention to improve their root-cause analysis processes, as they believe this can help mitigate these predicted volumes and help them to better serve customers.

This along with a wide variety of other complaints-focused topics are already on the agenda for the upcoming Customer Service and Complaints Roundtable meeting on the 15th and 16th of November in Birmingham. If you or any of your colleagues are interested in attending as our guests, please contact us via roundtables@auriemma.group.

Survey Methodology

Cardbeat UK

This Auriemma Research study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in July 2023, among 80o+ adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed on a monthly basis is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification.

About Auriemma Group

For nearly 40 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognized experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximize their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in New York City and London. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or contact Louis Stevens at louis.stevens@auriemma.group.

(London, UK): Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services continue to see significant growth across the UK and European markets.  Over 19 million UK consumers have used Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services, including 40% of credit cardholders, according to Auriemma Group’s latest issue of Cardbeat UK.

Much of this growth can be attributed to Klarna and Clearpay, which are the top two providers used and preferred by BNPL users.  As of mid-2023, half (51%) of Buy Now, Pay Later users have used Klarna before, while 47% say it is their preferred provider. Use of Clearpay remains notably lower, with one-quarter (24%) of Buy Now, Pay Later users trying the service, and 10% preferring it over other providers. Regardless of the provider, the BNPL experience is overwhelmingly positive for those who have used the service. Over nine-in-ten (91%) BNPL users say they had a positive experience using it (up from 74% in Q4-22).

While expectations of regulation coming to the sector have placed a spotlight on Buy Now, Pay Later practices, discussions have not dampened customer appetite for BNPL. New providers continue to enter the marketplace whilst established players continue to increase their investment and focus on service enhancements. Earlier this month, Klarna confirmed an intention to continue investing in the UK market despite calls for tightened regulation.

Whilst growth continues with the younger generations (54% of credit cardholders under 35 have used at least one BNPL plan), there is increasing evidence that the relevance and appeal of BNPL has broadened. The UK Finance Payment Market Report found that the percentage of pensioners now using BNPL services doubled in 2022 compared to the previous year.

“UK banks and traditional lenders are beginning to recognise that BNPL is here to stay as a way for consumers to pay,” says Simon Cottenham, Head of International Partnerships at Auriemma Group. “The key for these players is to create a product, value proposition and customer journey which can appeal in this competitive marketplace.”

Similar trends are being seen in other European markets with Germany reporting 30% growth in BNPL use in the last year. Around one-quarter of consumers in Europe are believed to have made a purchase using BNPL with annual growth rates forecast in the 20%-40% range by most industry observers.

Auriemma Group will continue to monitor this space closely in upcoming Cardbeat studies and within its Customer Service Roundtable groups.

Survey Methodology

This Auriemma Research study was conducted online within the UK by an independent field service provider on behalf of Auriemma in July 2023, among 80o+ adult credit cardholders. The number of interviews completed on a monthly basis is sufficient to allow for statistical significance testing between sub-groups at the 95% confidence level ± 5%, unless otherwise noted. The purpose of the research was not disclosed nor did the respondents know the criteria for qualification.

About Auriemma Group

For nearly 40 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.auriemma.group or call Jaclyn Holmes at +44 (0) 207 629 0075.

Consumer Duty is finally here, but how is the financial services industry approaching it?

Join us for our inaugural Regulatory Compliance Roundtable meeting on the 18th of October at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London from 9:30 – 17:00 GMT.

The discussion will be primarily focused on the FCA’s New Consumer Duty Act; however, the group will be open to discussions on other regulatory areas (e.g., BiFD findings, ISO 20022 and early discussions on what the industry would want to see from PSD3).

Our meeting agendas are attendee sourced; however, we expect to cover:

  • Changes already made to processes and procedures
  • Early learnings post 31st July go-live date
  • Focus areas for future changes
  • Internal governance structures
  • Third-party oversight models
  • MI and reporting usage
  • Other regulatory areas of focus

If you or your colleagues are interested in attending, please contact nicole.toussaint@auriemma.group.

Our autumn set of roundtable meetings are taking shape, and we would welcome you and your team to join us as our guest.

The dates for the upcoming meetings are:

  • Fraud Control Roundtable – 2nd and 3rd November – Manchester
  • Customer Service and Complaints Roundtable – 15th and 16th November – Birmingham
  • Collections and Recoveries Roundtable – 23rd and 24th November – Birmingham

Roundtable meetings provide a unique environment for the industry to openly discuss challenges, concerns, best practices, learnings and more, whilst networking amongst peers.

Agendas are entirely sourced from those who attend and prioritised accordingly, so you can be sure that the subjects currently pertinent to you are covered.

If you or your colleagues are interested in joining for any of the above sessions, please contact nicole.toussaint@auriemma.group.

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