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Maast | Ride the Wave: The Future of Banking
Matt Maxey, Chief Innovation Officer of Synovus BankApr 4, 2023 2:00:18 PM5 min read


As consumers, we’re accustomed to meeting our needs and desires with multiple options and the ability to choose based on exact features, such as functionality and even branding.

But individuals looking for a bank know that there isn’t a whole lot that distinguishes one from another. So, whichever bank you choose will offer a similar list of products, from checking accounts to safe deposit boxes to loans. And all will do so for roughly the same fees.

As banking becomes automated and increasingly more digital, the ease of doing business will matter more and more. While massive Classic Greek-style branches once implied that a bank was solid and permanent, tomorrow’s banks will be defined by experiences, not edifices.

It's time for banks to change. They need to move beyond core competency because their traditional business model is now under attack from new digitally savvy competitors offering unique features and an easier way of doing business.

Today we’re living the Swiss Army Knife life. Televisions not only show broadcast stations but also access the web and control our smart homes. Connected vehicles have morphed into mobile entertainment centers and soon, e-commerce hubs. On top of that, supermarkets sell food, fill prescriptions, dispense fuel, deliver online orders and accept e-commerce returns. In banking, customers want frictionless experiences and the ability to move money instantaneously with a minimum number of steps.

Maast | Business Owner Stats

While it’s impossible to know what form a new banking paradigm will take, we can look at the tools available and under development to explore some possibilities. Just as a surfer must first spot the wave before they figure out how to ride it, so too do we in banking need to stay abreast of new developments before we know how we’ll effect change in the banking experience.

Real-time access to data and using artificial intelligence (AI) will allow banks to customize offerings, anticipate customer needs and even suggest opportunities and services. As a result, we’ll be able to help customers merge their personal and business financial lives. In addition, using pattern analysis, banks will be able to detect changes in financial needs and provide appropriate customized services and solutions for each customer.

According to Lucid Reality Labs, in a fully immersive experience, users can envelop their senses – sight, sound, motions, pressure, smell and more – in a digital world. This is usually done with virtual or augmented reality. The metaverse could become an ideal tool to train employees and engage customers. Using 3D-modeling that melds disparate worlds, augmented or virtual reality could become a perfect training tool for onboarding employees, helping them deal with novel situations in a setting that mimics reality.

Augmented reality could enhance the customer relationship by allowing people in remote locations to relate as if they were in the same room. For example, clients looking for a new mortgage or property loan could use the technology to show the banker around a location, giving them an instant sense as to the viability of the project.

Banking conferences could integrate attendees from around the world in a way that gives a sense that all are in the same room, enabling participants to interact more fluidly than if they were using a typical webinar application.

Even though the world has largely gone digital, much of banking remains in a world of paper. The pandemic helped move financial services closer to digital however, much of the financial institution (FI) space still relies on physical documentation. This can lead to customer concerns and often multiple financial partners.

Banks should consider how to incorporate new services and capabilities by taking notice of customer trends and behaviors in non-FI spaces, like retail and dining. Imagine how those learnings could lead to new opportunities at the bank. For example, to reduce questions in financial transactions, “super apps” combine a range of financial and retail services that could decrease users switching from one app to another whenever they need to bank or purchase goods or services from retailers or travel providers. E-commerce opportunities that offer instant cash back could encourage customers to leave their savings in the banking app.

For businesses, offering embedded finance services such as payments and business checking through the software they already use to run their business can create a friction-free experience, as a business’ needs are anticipated and suggested from a trusted source.

At Synovus Bank we’ve created an embedded finance startup called Maast, offering what we call “money-as-a-service,” which gives software providers and independent software vendors the ability to white-label financial services integrated into their apps, including payment acceptance, business checking accounts, brandable Visa debit card and more, through one relationship, contract and integration.

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Whatever implementations we make as an industry, we should keep the value we offer to the customer paramount. We’ve seen consumers, tech companies and even physical retail companies disgruntled about data harvesting that seems to benefit only a company and its advertisers. As trusted partners securing the safety of our customers’ finances, we must ensure we always put the needs of our clients ahead of our own.

As we look down the road, we can see the broad strokes of our future industry take shape. I believe it will be one in which banking services are tightly integrated into our everyday lives and the space between personal and professional is further fused digitally and physically. We will use massive amounts of data to create customized solutions that fulfill the needs of individuals, not broad groups, eliminating friction and creating immediacy in money movement. And we will be proactive, suggesting options and integrating solutions our customers do not even consciously know they want.

But there is one obstacle: the pace at which the industry adopts change. It’s not surprising we’re conservative, as the need to conserve our clients’ wealth safely and soundly is at the core of what we do. Yet we must be willing to implement (innovate), not just envision (be creative), services and offerings that differentiate and create better customer experiences. Carefully-considered innovation is what will allow us as an industry to remain essential. It’s time for us to look for the wave, predict it, find the crest and ride it.


Matt Maxey, Chief Innovation Officer of Synovus Bank

Matt has been in Financial Services for 20 years spanning roles ranging from Product, IT, Operations, Innovation, and Strategy. He currently serves as Chief Innovation Officer at Synovus Bank, a $57B regional bank in the southeastern United States and is tasked with identifying and introducing disruptive growth opportunities for the bank that expand earnings and industry presence. Matt resides in Columbus, Georgia, is married and father of four children, and enjoys outdoor activities such as soccer, running, and fishing, but most importantly spending time with his family.