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Banking in 2021: Experts chime in on recession-focused solutions, gamifying savings, and digital payments

  • Experts share upcoming banking trends to look out for in the new year.
  • This article delves into the realities of ecommerce growth, personalization in banking and commoditization.

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Banking in 2021: Experts chime in on recession-focused solutions, gamifying savings, and digital payments

Banking has seen dramatic shifts in 2020 with unprecedented growth in digital. With 2021 on the horizon, Tearsheet asked experts to predict what retail banking trends we can expect in the coming year. 

Recession focused solutions

Asoka Dissanayake is the senior vice president and head of strategic partnerships at BBVA Open Platform.

“If unemployment continues on an upward trajectory, at some point we will see consumer buying habits decrease dramatically. Merchants will be focused on their cost base and will look to optimize their cash positions to help them get through the recession. We could see funding flow to fintechs that are focused on delivering recession-focused solutions such as working capital solutions, supply chain financing, dynamic discounting, small business loans, etc.”

Gamifying savings 

Adam Moelis is the co-founder of Yotta Savings

“As interest rates continue to stagnate, retail banking customers will search for new ways to earn interest on their deposited funds. Earning a few basis points is insignificant to most people. In turn, I expect we’ll see banks gamify the savings experience. Instead of paying everyone a meaningless amount of interest, banks will pool customers’ earned interest together in order to offer larger, more exciting payouts to a smaller number of depositors. This has already achieved high levels of popularity in other countries including the UK, New Zealand, and South Africa, and I believe the current low-interest rate environment will help the concept take off in the U.S.” 

Digital payments 

Jennifer Tramontana is the executive director of the Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization

“Greater investments will be made in 2021 in innovative digital payment technologies that create faster, more secure, inclusive payment solutions. Challenges brought on by the pandemic underscore the need for greater adoption of digital payments that allow financial institutions and fintech players to support and provide digital payments access to more consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a drastic shift in how consumers shop and pay for goods and services, and not all consumers have equal access though traditional financial services to fulfill those needs. 

Consumer appetite for more user-friendly digital payment methods that are ubiquitous for all users across any device will continue to spark conversations around accessibility and digital payments. Speed, security and inclusion will be key themes in discussions throughout 2021. Payment solutions, like prepaid, that provide immediate access to funds through a variety of mobile devices will help close the financial inclusion gap. Payment platforms that enable innovative methods to securely and quickly connect consumers and businesses though financial services and fintech platforms will be key to the growth of digital payments adoption.” 

Technology drivers

Everett Cook is the co-founder and CEO of Rho Business Banking.

“Covid has accelerated banking trends that were already several years in the making. Branches and the physical world have helped legacy institutions stay relevant, but once the pandemic started, the differentiator between leading and lagging institutions became purely about technology and service, not a physical footprint. 

In 2021, whoever has the best technology, the best product and the best service will win. Technology has leveled the playing field between newer institutions and legacy ones — and ultimately, the customer is the biggest beneficiary. Newer, technology-forward institutions have the advantage of being able to build from the ground-up based on what their customers need today and in the future. Many incumbents are still trying to figure out how to deliver what customers were demanding 10 years ago.”


 John Nash is the chief marketing and strategy officer at Redpoint Global.

“As in healthcare and retail, banks and financial services companies also must contend with customers’ increasing preference for digital channels and for seamless personalized experiences across digital and physical touchpoints. The overall poor customer experiences that big banks are infamous for – which surfaced anew during the PPP loan application process – highlights the need for a personalized experience to combat customer churn. The events of 2020 provide small, midsize, and community banks with an opportunity to differentiate on customer experience in 2021.

Whereas differentiation used to entail digital-only banking products, we’re well beyond the rollout of a mobile banking app as a touchstone for the personalized experience. In 2021, customers will expect a holistic omnichannel journey across channels and products. Meeting this demand will be a challenge because banks will have to find a way to duplicate the personal, in-person relationship that neighborhoods banks are known for – but at scale and with a digital-first approach. Compiling that kind of understanding is the first step to creating innovative, personalized experiences in a holistic banking journey. This will be a priority in 2021.”  

Online commerce

Adam Cohen is the general manager of enterprise at Payoneer.

“2020’s e-commerce growth is here to stay. 2020 broke down barriers to online shopping and we don’t see the world reverting back to their reliance on brick and mortar when we resume to normal. New demographics realized the convenience of online commerce and stores have evolved quickly to meet demands. We anticipate that in 2021 these processes will continue to be optimized and marketplaces will remain a top destination for shoppers.”

AI and open banking 

Whitney Russell is the president of digital solutions at Fiserv.

“In 2020, the acceleration of digital occurred across all aspects of financial services. 2021 will be the year of creating highly personalized experiences that enable financial institutions to retain and grow active users. Innovations in 2021 will center on enabling more advanced end-to-end banking experiences as we embark on the next wave of transformation with artificial intelligence and open APIs.”


Gaurav Sharma is the founder of

“We have reached a point where there is little differentiation between basic retail banking products like loans and credit cards offered by competing banks. I fully expect these products to continue their inexorable march towards commoditization in 2021 and beyond. Banks are already preparing for this by readjusting their retail banking strategies and rushing to create platform economies.”

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