Retail Banking Research Outlook 2020

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Introduction: Banking in the Face of Continued Uncertainty

COVID-19 has delivered a sudden and pervasive shock felt across every aspect of our personal and professional lives. The Coronavirus is accelerating trends that had been simmering, rapidly bringing them to a boil and demanding strategic responses in months, rather than the years firms used to have. Instead of retrenching, retail banks in the vanguard are increasing technology budgets and accelerating projects. They are playing the long game, with multi-year, well-defined strategies for overcoming the challenges faced in 2020.

While the initial shock of the pandemic has subsided, it is far from over, as new COVID-19 cases are rising again in many countries. All of us will continue to face disruption until the virus is tamed. And yet, this is not the only uncertainty facing many economies, from Brexit in the UK to the presidential elections in the US. Investing into resiliency and flexibility has never been more important.

Celent is committed to helping clients assess the technology implications across the financial system, from changes in customer behavior to new strategies and technologies required to respond to this upended world. We are in touch with financial institutions and their technology partners around the world and are developing a host of new perspectives, updated regularly, to help you make the right strategic technology choices in the medium- and longer term.

Q3 was another productive period for Celent’s Retail Banking team – we published 19 research reports, in addition to the usual mix of client consulting engagements, blogs, and webinars; all while trying to take at least a short break over the summer. Highlights include:

  • Three new reports on open banking explored the opportunities and challenges presented by “open finance” and offered an in-depth analysis of the third-party ecosystem in Europe and what retail banks around the world can learn from propositions they are pursuing.
  • In payments, we cut through a lot of noise in the market around QR codes and highlighted the growing role of prepaid accounts in driving payments innovation.
  • We explored how artificial intelligence can help optimize the contact center for the new normal, as well as mapped out vendors offering front office AI applications.
  • We deepened our cloud coverage by adding three reports, investigating the adoption of public cloud in banking and how banks’ attitudes are changing as a result of the pandemic. Celent also launched a hub page on the Future of Cloud in Financial Services, with retail banking analysts playing starring roles in the inaugural edition of Why Cloud, Why Now?, a webinar series.
  • •Finally, we ran a series of bank surveys and published corresponding reports tracking changes to the bank IT strategies during COVID-19, both globally as well as regionally, such as in the US (in partnership with Arizent) and in Japan and Asia.

In Q4, we will continue coverage of these and other themes and have a dozen of specific reports in the pipeline. We plan to distill what we’ve seen throughout the year into a report on top priorities for retail banks for 2021, which in turn will help us inform our own research agenda for next year. We will also be laying the ground for new research we already plan to publish in 2021, from kicking off the IT Services vendor study to judging Model Bank nominations (the deadline for submissions is October 16th) and selecting the winners to be featured in our ever-popular Model Bank case studies. If you have a hot topic in mind, where our research could add value to your organization, please get in touch, and we’ll endeavor to incorporate it into our research agenda for 2021.

Finally, since Celent is part of a larger organization, Oliver Wyman and Marsh & McClennan Companies (MMC), you also have access to our collective thought leadership on navigating the uncertainty. The areas of expertise range from economic modelling and epidemiology (Oliver Wyman) to risk/ crisis management (Marsh) and human resource implications (Mercer). For further information, please see:

Oliver Wyman


One thing is certain: none of us can go it alone. As you face hard decisions in the areas of technology and partnerships, Celent is here to support you. We can help you vet partners and technologies as you respond to competitive and government initiatives, the changing needs of your customers, and growing cost pressures.



Celent is committed to helping its clients assess the technology implications across the financial system as a result of COVID-19. We are addressing the top trends in Retail Banking and Payments through the lens of COVID-19. We have also delivered a framework to help bankers assess key areas and timeline of impact under different scenarios.


Entering adolescence, cloud implementations are becoming increasingly common. With experience, banks are uncovering unexpected sources of value and discovering new drawbacks that they’ll need to be wary of. One thing is clear though – cloud is here to stay, and we are looking to help our clients develop robust cloud strategies.


The promise of AI is coming into focus, and some of the more outlandish claims have been tempered. As it begins to enter its prime, we’ll explore AI’s adoption, use cases, and vendors.


A huge topic, data is the greatest untapped source of value for banks. From strategy to tactics, we’ll explore the role and adoption of APIs in facilitating data flow, the part that external partners can play in monetizing data, and the pitfalls that banks should consider.


Payments have been changing rapidly even before the pandemic. Recent events demonstrated that while payment infrastructures so far proved to be resilient, they will continue to be tested by the changing mix of payments, lower volumes, and competitive solutions.


In April, we announced our Model Bank 2020 award winners, chosen from 140+ nominations and published 26 case studies covering the winning initiatives. The nominations window for Model Bank 2021 is still open but will be closing soon, on October 16th.


We continue to deliver different types of insights, from analysis of technology trends shaping the banking industry to vendor analysis. Note that are publishing Briefing Notes (a new short format based on interesting updates we receive from industry players) throughout the year, but there’s no way to predict what those topics will be.


  • Model Bank case studies from around the world
  • IT spending
  • Cloud, AI, Data and APIs
  • Cards and Payments
  • Consumer lending, including mortgages


  • Cloud adoption and lessons
  • AI use cases (including RPA)
  • Development methodologies, e.g. Agile and their ripple effects
  • Consumer attitudes toward banking technology


  • Digital Platforms
  • Core (traditional and cloud)
  • Loan Collection Systems
  • Channel Systems
  • Various Briefing Notes

VendorMatch, Celent’s new vendor discovery tool, is playing an increasingly important role in our vendor analysis. See more at

Contact us for more information about what we have planned in Q4.

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