Leading financial services and tech execs say that in 2015, technology will change many things, from the way they hire personnel to the way they make loans to the way they package products. Upcoming projects — ranging from small to big — will improve the customer experience at a time when the lines between banks and technology companies continue to blur.

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Banks Will Seek Tech-Savvy Staff
Jim Simpson, a tech exec at City Bank Texas, believes 2015 will mark the year banks across the nation will evolve their hiring practices to ask potential candidates about their mobile app habits. The end goal? Seek out digital gurus regardless of the position."It's a non-traditional way to hire a bank executive," Simpson said. "I think banks will now start chasing more of a digital native employee."Already, the Lubbock, Texas, bank has started asking potential customer service reps about their mobile app preferences as it looks for people who can answer customers' questions about, say, where the camera icon is in the latest operating system update.

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Channels Will Be Connected
Tom Kunz, head of digital banking for PNC Banks, predicts banks will continue to work at connecting their varied channels together, to provide the elusive omnichannel experience."Many banks have multiple channels but they are not real well-connected across any portion of the customer experience," Kunz said. He expects the industry to invest heavily in improving customer interactions across channels in coming months. They'll get closer to the point where their customers can start their research online and wrap up the deal in a branch without having to repeatedly spit out the same data.

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More Mobile Banking Apps Will Use Touch ID
Apple's Touch ID, which lets people authenticate themselves with their finger, has already been incorporated in apps from American Express, BBVA's Simple and Tangerine in Canada.

Bankers and analysts believe the use of biometrics like Touch ID to authenticate customers will move from tests to wider rollouts in 2015 because, unlike in years past, the authentication method no longer requires separate hardware.

"Biometrics gives the opportunity to provide security in a seamless way," said Charaka Kithulegoda, the chief information officer at Tangerine.

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Employee Training Will Get a Tech Upgrade
Instead of learning on the job or by reading manuals, bank employee training will be assisted with highly visual content, according to Tom Kunz at PNC. Today's world "requires a different DNA in how you communicate" — on a bank website, for example — to reach millennials who grew up with Instagram and Facebook. This need extends into internal training, he said."Talent and how you train an employee is not a binder or an electronic version of text," said Kunz.

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Digital Marketing Will Become More People-Oriented
As transactions within the branch continue to decrease, banks are expected to spend more of their marketing budgets on digital and video messaging.AJ Jaggi, business architect at viral marketing specialist firm ViralGains, said digital content that authentically captures human emotions has performed well for brands from American Greeting to JetBlue to TD Bank and he expects the technique to be deployed by other banks in the coming months.
Digital Banking Will Become More Consumer-Friendly
Eastern Bank, a mutual thrift in Boston, has several projects on the drawing board. Among them are a conversion to Infosys Finacle software for mobile and online banking (Eastern will be the first U.S. bank to do so) and a feature that will let mobile banking users tap to call, say a mortgage specialist. The bank also plans to experiment with video-equipped machines in its branches and rethink lending for a digital age. "It's about flexibility and options," said Donald Westermann, chief technology officer at Eastern. "We need to deliver tech to meet people's needs."

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The Hackathon/Incubator Trend Will Continue
Kirsten Garen and Saurabh Kumar, tech execs at Bank of the West, expect developer incubators concentrating on financial services to play an even stronger role in 2015.Such innovation-themed projects, after all, are banks' tickets to seeing their problems solved by entrepreneurs. The California bank, meanwhile, said it is looking to focus on tools that will enhance its clients' experiences, such as new account opening.

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Location-Based Marketing Will Become Real
Proximity marketing is expected to help banks message consumers at the moment and location they want financing, according to James DeBello, the chief executive officer of Mitek."Several retailers have experimented with in-store beacons and pushing mobile offers to consumers, but in 2015 retailers will pair these technologies with new mobile imaging capabilities that will allow users to act on offers in the aisle," wrote DeBello in a press release about mobile predictions. "For the first time, consumers will have the option to snap a picture to enroll in a loyalty program or credit card and this will open new doors for financial institutions."

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Customer Analytics Will Be Hot
James Plath, digital lead for the financial services industry at Gartner Consulting, encourages banks to find unorthodox value-adds for their customers."Banks own — arguably — the richest data set in existence on any person: transactions," said Plath. He sees opportunities for banks to mine the data so the opted-in consumer could, say, get an alert from his bank that his father may need medical help.

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Technology Will Let Banks Always Be Open
The explosion of mobile and electronic banking innovations will continue, especially in areas of providing more personalized support (like video chat), enhancements around mobile wallets and payments (such as integrated PFM intelligence), the streamlining of cumbersome processes (like account opening), and use of smarter device capabilities for security (such as Touch ID and location-based intelligence), according to John Schulte, chief information officer at Mercantile Bank. "Having a bank that's wherever you are, open all the time, and offering you convenient, fast and more intelligent ways to manage your money resonates strongly with consumers," Schulte said.

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