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As digital transformation is developing at warp speed, financial services institutions are forced to innovate like never before to keep up. Sara Öhrvall (SEB), Carl-Andreas Claussen (Riksbanken, Sweden’s Central Bank), Peter Nilsson (Bambora Nordics), and Klas Danielsson (SBAB) discussed the future role of financial services at KPMG’s third and final digital event of this year’s Vision 2030 series.

“The rate of change is so radical. It is nearly impossible to predict how the future of banking will look like,” Klas Danielsson believes that banking services won’t exist as they do today. Rather, he believes that financial services will be integrated into other ecosystems that cater to specific needs and what the customers want to do in that given moment. And so, everything that needs to be done, including payments, are run seamlessly for that specific task.

Sara Öhrvall believes that banking will still exist, but that financial services will be distributed across industry sectors based on what services banks want to provide their customers. A consistent client interface is key, as well as strong partnerships in order to stay relevant in 2030, “Identify your best partners. They will sometimes be your competitors,” she continued,” some development cannot happen without the ecosystem being established.”

Swish and ATMs connected to most banks are two examples that the panel believe showcase the power of collaboration in the Nordics where competitors come together to provide a service for the customer. They believe that these cases show the potential of how far financial services can go when they are backed up by solid collaborations.

Sustainability at the core of the next generation of payments, banking and currency

Peter Nilsson shared that one of Bambora’s most important tasks is to ensure safe transactions while simultaneously working actively with anti-corruption processes to reduce criminal activities, such as money laundering. This requires certain traceability – something that Riksbanken is also currently investigating, but from a different perspective.

For the past four years, Sweden’s Central Bank, the Riksbank, has been looking into the possibility of producing a digital currency called “E-krona”. In contrast to bank money that can be traced by the provider, the e-krona could be an alternative payment method without tracking for commercial purposes.

“The aim with the e-krona is not to compete with banks. It is that we see that there are some potential negative effects, maybe big ones, if cash disappears,” Carl-Andreas Claussen explained, “there are also issues related to crisis, electricity shortages, lots of things like that where we have to provide something that works.” A digital currency as such is therefore not an alternative payment method, it is a sustainable monetary solution fit for the digital future.

In addition to overseeing the full credit portfolio and directing capital into sustainable investments with low carbon solutions, Sara Öhrvall addressed banks’ role in social sustainability,” 33% of stocks are owned by women, 25% of all properties, 15% of all land is owned by women. And this is a consequence of history,” she stressed the need of facilitating pension planning and other forms of personal investments by equipping individuals with the tools needed to make more sustainable choices,” These are things you cannot decide for people, but at least provide information needed in order to make their own decisions.” 

Artificial intelligence and data-sharing – a question of trust

The panel finds artificial intelligence to be one of the main disruptors of our time as it is on the cusp of being fully integrated into various systems throughout society. In other words, its full potential is yet to be determined.

Among the many benefits of being able to provide customized and personal recommendations to people, the panel found that privacy and trust for financial service providers have become vital as data will continue to be collected and shared in order to offer such customized services. They stressed the need of strong data ethics and compliance for internal accountability as well as external credibility – something that will take time to establish, but is critical for the industry.

The future is as always hard to predict, but the panel of experts agreed that strong data ethics that build trust coupled with environmental and social sustainability are at the core of digital transformation. Those two factors should be front and center of innovation within financial services and are believed to be crucial if banks want to stay relevant in 2030.

Watch the full panel discussion below.

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