By now, the term "omnichannel" seems to have lost some of its buzz in the payments world. And that’s because banks are learning that the process of creating a seamless cross-channel experience can't be summed up so succinctly.
Now the industry is talking about all the technology and processes that must be put into place to make omnichannel work, which involves systems that don't sound as catchy — collaborative platforms, open APIs and developer accessibility.
“Omnichannel used to just mean having a 360 degree view of the customer and now it’s that and much more,” said Bob Meara, senior analyst in Celent’s banking practice.
According to an upcoming Celent bank and credit union survey, few banks assert that it has a mature omnichannel solution. And that’s because “the omnichannel to do list is never going to end,” Meara said.
Sexier buzzwords and high-tech services that are part of the solution, including chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain have taken some of the limelight from omnichannel, said Zil Bareisis, a senior analyst focusing on retail payments at Celent.
“And in payments, everybody is talking about contextual commerce, which at least makes more sense than omnichannel payments,” he said.
In hindsight, the concept of an omnichannel payment — a transaction that starts in one channel and finishes in another — doesn't apply to most purchases. But contextual payments, where a customer starts and completes a transaction online and then picks up the product in store more aptly describes what most commerce looks like today.
The concept of omnichannel, though, is still very much around. It just doesn't have much to do with payments anymore.
“In the customer acquisition space, omnichannel is not only very current but extremely topical and vibrant,” said Don Bergal, chief marketing officer at omnichannel provider, Avoka.
Avoka Transact offers software to banks that makes the process of signing up for a whole host of accounts and products more seamless, no matter the channel. By capturing information on a digital platform in the cloud, the company prefills information so that consumers don’t have to repeat steps.
Avoka, which started in Australia, hasn’t seen business taper off at all with clients in North America, the UK and the rest of Europe as well. Today, the United States is providing a perfect market for Avoka’s business since banks in the country are farther behind than those in Australia and Europe in terms of digitizing and linking back office processes, Bergal said.
At least in that context, “omnichannel is coming up,” Bergal said, mentioning that a third of the companies at the latest Finovate presented omnichannel solutions.