Wells Fargo's CEO explains the five ways tech will change banking

A customer leaves an ATM at a Wells Fargo branch in Denver.
Rick Wilking | Reuters

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan, who replaced John Stumpf in October after a sales scandal at the San Francisco bank, is ready to embrace technology. And he wants his customers to know it.

At the FinTech Ideas Festival on Monday in his bank's hometown, Sloan took the stage to offer his predictions on the five technological things that will change banking. While some of this is obvious to anyone following technology, it's still instructive to hear the leader of one of the country's largest banks discuss the transition to the mobile and digital era.

Sloan's view of the future:

1) APIs – Application programming interfaces are the tools developers use to allow third parties to connect to their technology. In the modern world, tech is interconnected rather than siloed. Companies want consumers to be able to reach them from anywhere, whether on a computer or mobile device, and whether in a social media app or through a financial aggregating service. Wells Fargo has been opening up APIs to enable consumers and commercial customers to bank the ways they want to bank.

2) Artificial intelligence – Personalization in banking requires the use of sophisticated software to understand as much as possible about the customer in order to serve up recommendations and offers at the right time. Wells Fargo has a startup accelerator investing in young companies focusing on technology such as interactions through natural language and the use of predictive tools.

3) Voice and biometrics – It's time to "move away from passwords so that that the body becomes your password," Sloan said. Voice and other forms of physical authentication are safer and more secure than plain text -- an attacker can't steal somebody's voice like a password written on a piece of paper. They also enable remote banking. Sloan gave the example of a consumer visiting a coffee shop, putting in an order, sitting down and applying for a credit card by taking a picture of a driver's license and quickly filling out a form. By the time the order is up, the customer can use a brand new Wells Fargo credit card to pay.

4) Payments – Digital wallets are everywhere. Wells Fargo is building them for the various mobile operating systems, and they're all created to enable plenty of customer feedback.

5) Cloud – Like every industry, banking must get used to developing and deploying services faster, while taking better advantage of all the data that devices are spitting out. It all has to be done "much more quickly than we have historically," Sloan said.

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