A wide-ranging discussion, spanning credit risk to insurance to student loans, addressed the future of financial services in a post-COVID-19 world. The virtual panel, part of the Ipsos’ What the Future series, repeatedly returned to digitalization as a growing solution in the short term and to overhaul entrenched systemic challenges. Ipsos’ Oscar Yuan, president of Ipsos Strategy3, moderated the discussion which included Susan Peters, managing director of enterprise market research at Bank of America; Jennifer Tescher, president and CEO of Financial Health Network; Christine Parlour, Sylvan C. Coleman chair of finance and accounting at University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business; and Jason Brown, chief client officer at Ipsos U.S.
Bank of America already has seen consumers’ accelerated move to mobile wallets and contactless payments across generations. “It’s becoming increasingly important that we expedite that and think about how banking fits into crisis overall,” said Peters.
Up until the pandemic, “using your phone wasn’t a better-enough” option for many consumers, said Ipsos Chief Client Officer Jason Brown. “Now a card is going to be another surface to handle,” says Brown. “That threatens the plastic approach.” He added that companies that can connect banking and payments to budgeting will become bigger as people trust in tech companies more.
In addition to employment, connectivity is key factor in financial health equality, said Tescher. With COVID-19 financial assistance like the Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection programs (PPP) loans to individual economic impact payments (EIP), “all those things need to be done electronically,” she said. “Filing for unemployment insurance, if you’re lacking from a digital perspective, you’re being doubly hurt.”
She sees a more seismic change the pandemic could spark: a shift away from the product-focused culture of banking services to one of improving financial health, said Tescher. “What folks need is a real flip for how this industry has long acted,” said Tescher. “Would that be a great silver lining from this crisis?”
One fintech movement getting a lot of discussion is decentralized finance, or DeFi, according to Parlour. That’s an open finance movement that aims to make traditional financial services like savings, loans, and insurance and more to be accessible to anyone through a mobile platform and without company or government gatekeeping.
If anything, “There is some optimism and hope that a real restructuring takes place,” offered moderator Oscar Yuan, in closing the discussion. “The journey is not easy but perhaps the destination will be a good place.”