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How embedded finance elevates the customer experience

The global market continually evolves as customers look for ways to better integrate financial services into their daily lives. Consumers now prefer a holistic customer journey rather than siloed transactions. As such, banks and other financial institutions must identify opportunities in this developing ecosystem to stay competitive and drive long-term growth. 

 On a micro-scale, individuals can locally use e-wallets and online banking apps to send and receive money, pay bills, and perform cashless transactions on their mobile phones. These integrated experiences have evolved past digital financial services, bringing us closer to the next economic revolution.

Non-financial organizations have started recognizing the value of offering seamless financial services to meet the needs of “digital citizens.” These businesses are now capitalizing on customer data and analytics to boost brand loyalty, generate new growth, and refine the customer experience. In this new age of technology-driven finance, services are most effective when delivered conveniently and frictionlessly.

Changing and developing customer expectations are driving this new era of integrated finance. E-commerce platforms, online marketplaces, and retailers are starting to embed financial products and services into their end-to-end customer journeys.

Fundamentally, embedded finance involves a non-financial services company integrating financial products or services into its value chain to bolster its customer experience.

According to an EY market survey, with respondents from 21 technology providers across the Americas, EMEIA, and APAC, 94% of global financial technology leaders said that addressing customers’ needs in real time is a significant feature of financial products. As such, there is a burgeoning interest for financial and non-financial institutions to collaborate and identify opportunities for mutual growth. Additionally, EY financial research predicts the valuation of global embedded finance to grow from $264 billion in 2021 to $606 billion in 2025.

Banking-as-a-service (BaaS) providers use modern application program interfaces (API) to provide regulated banking solutions to non-financial institutions. These platforms and related technologies make it easier for financial technologies (Fintechs) to work with brands. The advancement of cloud computing and the omnipresence of mobile devices enables considerable connectivity between brands and consumers.

Moreover, other integrated value propositions are on the rise. For example, a local e-commerce platform allows buyers and merchants to transact within its mobile app through its e-wallet feature. This service eliminates the need for a separate, traditional bank account. Another example is what started as a ridesharing app, but which now has transitioned to payments, food delivery, e-wallets, and more. Furthermore, the EY market survey shows that over 70% of respondents think that non-financial institutions will offer more financial products and services in the future.

 For a non-financial services company, having customer transactional data can help the organization create bespoke offerings for its consumers. Online marketplaces, retailers, and software companies, among others, are expected to play a crucial role in the future of the finance sector. Hence, organizations must rethink their positioning, strategic vision, and value propositions to capitalize on this nascent market opportunity.

Embedded finance is manifold, but payments are the most significant in terms of revenue. According to EY research, the value of embedded-channel payments will grow to $6.5 trillion by 2025 from $2.5 trillion in 2021. Non-financial businesses make use of payments as the first touchpoint of customer transactions. With various offerings like discounts, gifts, and pre-orders, payments can help an organization create new experiences and increase customer retention. Furthermore, brands can integrate other services like insurance into this transactional flow the further it evolves.

 Likewise, consumers worldwide have increasingly adopted the use of digital wallets. This development has revolutionized the payment process for customers and merchants. According to an EY report, The Rise of Paytech — seven forces shaping the future of payments, mobile commerce comprised 52% of e-commerce spending, surpassing that of desktop users. Mobile wallets also held a 49% share in worldwide e-commerce payments in 2021. Finally, according to Juniper Research, an analyst house specializing in digital technology market research, the number of digital wallet users globally may exceed 5.2 billion by 2026, up from 3.4 billion in 2022.

Embedded finance is a disruption that forces traditional financial institutions like banks to embrace this development. It is crucial for banks to adapt, as non-financial institutions have shown that they can now occupy the traditional role of banks. Brands that integrate finance into their customers’ end-to-end journeys create a convenient and robust user experience, which can cement their place in the global market.

Once organizations clearly grasp their capabilities, leaders can devise strategies to incorporate embedded finance in the following ways:

1. Customer- or product-centered approach 

This is a traditional model where banks can extend their services to others while innovating their core offerings. This approach means financial institutions are agile and introduce new products that will retain their customer base as market conditions evolve.

2. Enabler approach

This approach centers on banks extending their products and services via a platform business model. Additionally, they must set up a digital set of core offerings while embedding services into other third-party platforms. By doing so, banks must understand which products and services could synergize with third-party platforms. They also need to consider various partnership models based on their existing capabilities.

3. Builder approach

This technology-heavy approach involves the creation of platforms that house internal and external products. This method relies on agility and functionality as the model continuously adapts according to third-party functionalities. The bank must consider what offerings they can build in-house and which ones they must outsource.

 4. Owner orchestrator approach

In this scenario, the bank owns the platform and customer distribution channels while also delivering its products. As such, it must invest in the right technology to bolster customer interactions. This method requires a scalable operating model that continuously improve the functionalities. The bank needs to measure the platform’s success and identify ways to increase brand recognition and retain customers.

The conundrum that banks face is that consumers are opting for embedded channels to tap financial services. Financial institutions must find ways to innovate their products and services, lest they fall behind. As the digital age progresses, banks and other institutions should seize the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors. 

Ultimately, innovation will drive the advancement of financial services toward integrated customer experiences. The discrepancy between what brands offer and what consumers want creates an opportunity for organizations to develop a new strategic vision to drive long-term growth. Banks and other organizations can explore new options, reimagine offerings, and embrace non-traditional revenue channels as they pivot to a financially embedded world.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.


Janet A. Paraiso is an assurance partner and the FSO assurance leader of SGV & Co.

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