Are you prepared for the technology revolution?

With Halifax said to be trialling the use of heartbeat monitors to determine a customer’s identity, technology in the financial sector appears to be advancing more quickly than ever. The bank has revealed plans to use special wristbands to check the heartbeat of its customers – something which is completely unique to each individual - before allowing them to access their online banking facilities.

While it may be some years before this type of tech becomes the norm, it remains vitally important for firms to keep up with customer demands and the capabilities of new devices. Consumers want all their financial information in the palm of their hand and are increasingly comfortable completing financial transactions online or through mobile apps. The launch of the Apple Watch, for example, could create another way for people to access their finances on the go, and additional ways for banks to contact their customers. Even more new innovations are sure to follow.

While it remains unlikely the majority of people will want to conduct a whole mortgage transaction on their own, technology is also likely to become more important to lenders, brokers and customers alike as time goes by. Customers are getting savvier about the range of online tools available to help them to transact on a daily basis and to identify and access appropriate financial products and this trend is likely to continue. Thousands of people are now signed up to receive monthly credit reports from providers like Experian and Equifax, something which would have been unthinkable not long ago.

In the future we could see the rise of an app which brings together all your accounts and holdings in one location, regardless of the suppliers. As an industry we must therefore look at how technology can improve existing services and help grow responsible lending. Lenders are often accused of having ‘tick box’ systems, but this process will become refined and more intelligent with the right investment and the right technology.

The right technology can help lenders to gather more data and analyse it more efficiently. This will help separate the customers that are likely to fall into arrears from those who would be a safer option, in addition to marketing propositions that are appropriate to the customer at a particular point in time. Smaller lenders often make the case that good borrowers are able to slip through the cracks at present due to their approach to risk and ability to assess it, but as technology develops these cases will become less and less frequent. Knowing your customer will become automatic and decisions for borrowers will be quick and accurate.

Crucially, these developments will also free up resources and cut costs. Technology is already playing a large role in this area by automating what were previously manual tasks and helping to reduce some of the pressure on compliance teams.

Compliance officers can then be deployed elsewhere in the business and become a proactive force within an organisation, dealing with issues before they develop into major problems. Technology is also making it simpler to manage back books and will make it easier to demonstrate to regulators and auditors that best practice is being followed.