In consumer space.. is bleak.Amazon just launched an Amazon go service .
The idea is to walk around the store picking items and let the amazon magic wand do the billing and payment for you. Something like how magic bands worked in amusement part.What is important here is not how amazon will identify the chosen products but how it will bill the customer.The experience amazon wishes to give via go service is that of on tap shopping.This mandates that the act of billing your account will be on tap.We can draw an anology with how oauth made user authentication ontap for content providers.This is huge.
The idea of some sort of token of your payment power was well established by cheques and later via plastic cards. The point of sale handled the other part of giving identity of the billing party. The same was replicated by e-commerce sites. However whats was missing here is a marriage of discoverability of both the parties as well as payment completion on the same tap.And all withing the realm of regular banking. We can alternatively say that the ease propagated by maverick fintech of dot com era as well as current breed of startup is going mainstream. All via the power of amazon to shape and coerce new behavior.
The problem that consumer banking apps went on to solve were that of products, payment’s and problems. Its is at the payment level most of the problems and innovations in this area happened. What amazon go will propagate is the paradigm of account as a service ,on which payments can be made. Its kind of stretching the event horizon. Because once the cognitive habits of tap and pay becomes normal,all the problems of discovery and identification become part of a universal,standardized infrastructure that most bank will end up supporting. The shift is so fundamental that the current attempts of standardization of bill payment,QR cheques,universal account identifiers and the payment networks will be forced to coverage and fall in line with account ad service model due to sheer power of end user convenience.
What then is left with banks is products and problems. The products being the universal facility that banks offer and where information technology has little to offer apart from some trivial suggestion based on consumer profile.And the problem part which the support executive can’t get rid of, so much the banks would love to eliminate and are nowadays looking towards bots as hope.
We must also factor in the usual suspects of value chain arguments. In a world where bank account and transfers are available as standardized commodity,there will be an inclination to move up the value chain,but we must remember the very reason of the channel banking app was to outsource clerical load onto consumer and let them do it.What more can then be more up the chain than liberalize payments and accounts further and let the bank focus where their strength lies ie better banking products. So skip the temptations to bring some workflow,fund sharing- social features to your banking apps.The consumers might not,all,need it ;and in the light of account as services the app ecosystem will take care of the latest , mostly transient tides of consumer behavior.