24 December 2018 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Anja Aucamp
Dr Johan Coetzee
Technology is revolutionising the way we both transact and interact with banks. The focus of Dr Johan Coetzee’s research is bank-client relationship.

Dr Johan Coetzee, senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and Finance and member of the UFS Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP), started his career in the banking industry.

It was all very exciting, but when the opportunity arose to join academia in 2004, he jumped at it. “The main focus of my research is bank-client relationship, and specifically its social and economic dimensions. I like why banks do what they do and why clients react the way they do to banks. It is always fascinating to hear the stories people tell about their banks, whether at a braai among friends and family, or at a high-level academic conference,” said Dr Coetzee.

Interaction with clients changing

With technology driving the future of banking in such a dramatic way, the impact Fintech has on bank-client relationships has been the focus of his latest research.

“Technology has already changed the way banks interact with clients. We use apps, cellphones, tablets, and biometric finger scanning to do our banking. Gone are the days when our only means of interacting was with the bank manager personally. Technology is revolutionising the way we both transact and interact with banks.”

Smart devices drive almost everything

“It is exciting, but also a daunting prospect. If regulators are not able to put measures in place to minimise potential risks, we can very easily have another global financial crisis on our hands. In fact, my view is that the next crisis will be packaged in a technology wrapper,” he said.

Dr Coetzee believes that five years from now, banks will in a very real way be driven by technology. “Although they will not disappear altogether, branches will get smaller and not resemble at all what we know them to be today. Banks will be a lot more social at the personal interaction level and digital at the electronic interaction level. A smart device will digitally drive almost every transaction and interaction with your bank.

“There will, however, still be an element of personal interaction. My fear is that if this is lost, we will become part of a faceless industry driven by robots and algorithms. Personal interaction driven by a quality relationship based on trust between bank and client must still exist, and I argue that for banks to remain relevant in the future of tomorrow, this must be retained at all costs.”

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