Zorana Branković, Banca Intesa COO

Banking of the Future

The development of technology has been transforming banking for more than two decades, from the start of internet use to the rise of online and mobile banking. And yet, the banking industry finds itself again on the brink of another transformative era, driven by rapid advances in artificial intelligence and the emergence of generative AI. As we look to the future of banking, it is crucial for banks to prepare for the changes brought by these technologies, not only in terms of operational efficiency, but also in the way they interact with clients and compete in the marketplace

AI and generative AI are set to revolutionise the banking sector by automating routine tasks, enhancing decision-making processes and providing personalised customer experiences, while also assisting in fraud detection and risk management, making the banking ecosystem safer and more resilient. As a consequence, the way banks work is about to change radically. New skills, approaches and mindsets will be needed, not only in IT, but—more critically—in every function and at every level of bank. Banks will need to invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees to work alongside AI, focusing on areas where human empathy and creativity are irreplaceable.

In an increasingly competitive landscape, banks must leverage AI to stay ahead. Current predictions are that banks are likely to benefit more from generative AI than any other industry. This involves not just adopting AI for internal processes, but also using it to enhance customer engagement. Implementing AI in everyday processes will not bring any bank a competitive advantage, but not acting quickly will certainly create a disadvantage. By analysing client data, AI can help banks anticipate needs and offer tailored solutions, making it harder for competitors to lure clients away. Furthermore, banks should collaborate with fintechs and tech firms to access cutting- edge AI technologies and foster innovation.

Hyper-personalisation is the future of customer engagement in banking. By harnessing AI and big data analytics, banks can create highly personalised customer experiences, from customised financial advice to individualised product offers. This level of personalisation fosters client loyalty and increases lifetime value. Banks should also explore the use of chatbots and virtual assistants powered by generative AI in order to provide 24/7 personalised support, making banking more convenient and accessible.

If they are to prepare for the future of banking, banks need to embrace digital transformation, i.e. invest in digital infrastructure and adopt cloud technologies to support AI integration, focus on data privacy and security amid increased reliance on AI and data analytics, foster a culture of innovation and increase their agility by encouraging a mindset of lifelong learning and experimentation to keep pace with technological advances and work closely with regulatory bodies to navigate the ethical and legal implications of AI in banking.

Banca Intesa, which operates as part of the international banking group Intesa Sanpaolo, has been relying on AI-based tools for years, primarily in automating business processes, developing risk models, segmenting its customer base and creating personalised offers. In seeking to further deploy new tech, we plan to use generative AI initially for internal optimisation and productivity improvements, for example to enable employees to respond to customer queries, find the required information and perform the necessary analyses in a way that will not only simplify their daily tasks, but also improve their interaction with clients and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

The future of banking is poised for a significant shift, driven by AI and hyper-personalisation. Banks that prepare proactively for these changes – by investing in technology, upskilling their workforce and prioritising customer-centricity – will be well-positioned to thrive in this new era. By embracing innovation and adapting to the evolving landscape, banks can unlock new opportunities and deliver unparalleled value to their customers.

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