By Kanayo Agwunobi

The recent return of the Barclays Premier League marks the beginning of friendship-threatening debates and ongoing tensions from the pub to the workplace – a tale of larger-than-life emotional rollercoasters from now until May.

The #1 rule of the beloved sport is that “you never switch your team”. But what if your football team was a high-street bank? Do you still never switch?

In football, just as in banking, innovation is what positions you at the top. Continuing to innovate is what keeps you there.

Powers shift among the top performers

From the 2004/05 campaign, Chelsea F.C. emerged as tactical innovators and transfer market giants. Chelsea forced their domestic counterparts to play ‘catch-up’ by taking bold steps towards tactical innovation and original thinking during the transfer window.

So, what happened to the other top dogs, Arsenal and Manchester United? Their names undoubtedly carried weight and they had loyal fan bases, but complacency allowed them to be dethroned during that season. The same narrative applies to banking. It’s no secret that new startups such as Monzo, N26 and Revolut are disrupting incumbent banks by harnessing new technology.

Challenger banks launch their counter-attack

Once you’re at the top, how do you respond when challenger banks begin to shake up the sector and tempt your customers? How loyal does your fan base remain when they offer personalised, low-fee and customer-focused banking? You have to continue to innovate.

Fast forward to the present day and you’ll find one-time upstart Manchester City riding and owning the innovation wave. Just as leading teams must invest in tactics and quality players, big banks have been forced to invest in more customer-friendly banking technology to keep the challengers at bay.

A change of formation to regain the lead

Everybody wants an amazing defence. But how many teams are looking into new midfield tactics? Current champions, Manchester City are revolutionising the most pivotal area of the field by deploying two world-class #10 attacking midfielders in Kevin de Bruyne and Bernado Silva. It’s highly successful, but a bold move.

Biometric authentication in banking apps represents a bold step towards enhancing the customer experience. Banks are removing the hassle of remembering pins and resetting passwords. Customers’ security is now in the hands of facial or fingerprint recognition by devices that fit neatly into your pocket.

Welcome to digitalisation: where the “bold moves” are, ironically, pretty normal now. The banks that invest boldly are the ones that win championships.

Keeping your fans excited

Smart personnel investment and tactical innovation came to fruition last season as the team everybody loves to hate stamped their mark as a reborn global giant – Liverpool F.C.

The reigning European champions epitomise electrifying football that punishes competitors in the blink of an eye. And those are the secret weapons: speed and ease. Just like bank transfers made instantly from bank apps and omnichannel platforms with customer-tailored data.

Payments are made in seconds. Everything’s fast. Everything’s easy. Got Apple Pay? Pay with your phone. Payment done. Instantly… It’s hard to keep up.

For new technologies, just like Liverpool, as much as people moan about them, they’re exciting and we are all watching and waiting for more.

Getting the goal (pun intended)

To become a ‘City’ or a ‘Liverpool’, banks have to embrace the ongoing cat-and-mouse nature of innovation. The top position is far from comfortable as no one can afford to take their eye off the innovation ball for a moment.

As high-scoring banks know, change is only exciting when you communicate it successfully. You won’t be someone’s first choice if you’re not willing to tell them why you should be. Customers want you to be their best option, but they need you to tell them why you are. Own your story and watch your transparency inspire loyalty.

The smart banks always have one eye on the competition. They know that there’s no room for complacency as the challengers lurk. Instead, they adapt and make sure their supporters always know this and never feel the need to go elsewhere.

Gaining your consumers’ trust is half of the mission. Going forward, you keep reminding them why you have it.

Even though it may be in football, loyalty in banking is not blind. Take it from me – a patient, loyal Arsenal fan with an open mind to choosing my bank.

 

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