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How 'Universal Banking' will change personal finance.


At the age of fifteen, my parents set me up with a bank account. A place where I could get pocket money put in and keep it safe.safely keep and get money, and a place where an employer could pay money into (and the occasional pocket money donations). I am twenty six now, has my bank changed the way it acts towards me? The answer is no. But that isn’t the bank’s fault, bespoke accounts at a large scale are near impossible. A lot has changed in my life, new jobs, university, unemployment, relative success… All the while the financial tools at my disposal remained the same. This is just one reason that makes universal banking the only option for a world that is moving to more flexible, personalised solutions.

Picture a universal remote: you can use it to control the lights, tv, stereo… all kinds of things in your home. Universal banking works a little like that. The ability to use your bank and fintech products together, in-line with each other without complication or stress.

The foundation of universal banking is a financial product marketplace; a place where you can find tools that are beneficial to your situation. The next layer is a UX that makes it easy to use these products together - as easy as checking your balance on your mobile - no barriers to get through and no compatibility issues. The icing on this universal banking cake is the ability to change your product package as your life changes.

Vladislav Solodkiy, Managing Partner at FinTech VC Fund Life.SREDA had this to say at a recent event in Singapore: “the first customers were ready to bake a cake with disparate ingredients themselves, the mass customer wants to get a comfortable ecosystem of services with seamless integration allowing the customer to easily use data from one service inside the other and enjoy the benefits from their joint use.”

Tapping into this ecosystem could be the most powerful change to occur in personal finance. The financial world, which is mystical and complex to some, can now be wrangled by non-bankers and non-experts. Universal banking will ensure that everyone, regardless of knowledge or technical ability, will have more mastery over their money.

Universal banking also presents benefits to financial product providers. In a siloed system, companies get data from the actions you take using their product. Take foreign exchange: the product provider will know the amount you are changing from Sterling to Euros. They won't know this trip to Italy is your honeymoon, and that you saved up all year for it. Missing
out on crucial insight means opportunities for higher value exchanges are missed. Universal banking opens up pathways for data sharing; turning ‘big data’ into ‘big insight’. Armed with that, product providers have vision of opportunities to create more relevant interactions with their consumers.

Instead of logging on to your HSBC, Natwest or Lloyds app, soon you will be logging into your Universal banking app. From here you will be able to see balances from all your current accounts, saving accounts, ISAs, credit cards, investments, pensions.. all that stuff; you will be able to find new tools to use; and you'll be able to move money between all these services with ease. Your portal will be so much more than a way to check how much money is left. It will be a collection of services that are entirely decided by you, your one stop shop for financial freedom.  


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