Pamela Talley, a Millennial and a marketing manager at the financial web site CompareCards.com, sees a big change in how Americans manage their personal finances -- and banks may not be part of that equation.
"As a Millennial who works for a credit card comparison website, I'm interested in the future of payments, especially with the rise of mobile wallets," she says. "There's no doubt that smartphone users will be inclined to try a mobile wallet experience in 2016. With selling points like security, speed and convenience, it's only a matter of time before we see widespread adoption of the mobile wallet."
Talley says these programs will be bolstered by the EMV-fueled point-of-sale upgrades taking place all over the country that will better enable purchases with smartphones. "With most smartphone users either in the Apple or Google camp, these two companies are poised to capture the bulk of all mobile wallet adopters," she adds.
Talley is on to something.
According to Fintonic, the number one mobile banking app in Spain and Latin America, 10% of Americans ages 18 to 54 believes Google will become a bank most people use in the future. That, in itself, isn't a huge number, but revolutions have to start somewhere.
And make no mistake, this revolution is gaining steam.
Fintonic also notes 14% Millennials (ages 18-34) believe tech giants like Google or Apple will replace traditional banks and become financial institutions themselves. Another 14% of consumers 54 years-of-age and under believe Google and Apple could do a better job at banking transactions and customer service than traditional banks. And, more than 40% consumers of all ages, the company reports, agreed that mobile payments will become more common than card or cash transactions within the next ten years.
Nick Loui, a 20-something Los Angeles-based technology and entrepreneur, definitely falls into the future-forward category. "Financial tech is one of the most exciting sectors for me, and I've used everything from Mint to Personal Capital, Acorns, Wealthfront, and many more," Loui says. "I've even moved all of my investments from traditional brokerages to Personal Capital and Betterment because of the ease of use and the mobile solutions available for banking."
"I think it's absolutely a field that Google could explore, but I don't see Apple owning the market," he adds.
Other young financial consumers say there are plenty of fintech contenders who, gathered together, could threaten to topple the conventional banking industry.
"I absolutely think that companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google might be the banks of the future," notes Allen Walton, owner of SpyGuySecurity.com, near Dallas. "As a 28-year-old Millennial, I'll drop traditional banks the moment one of these companies gets in the finance game."
It's not about interest rates anymore, Walton says, and that's a real game-changer for all consumers, not just young ones. "The rates you get from a bank are so terrible, people don't use that as a basis anymore for where they should bank," he explains. "Instead, it's all about convenience and reputation. Most banks have terribly designed websites, mobile apps, and terrible customer support. And Apple, Amazon and Google have some of the highest consumer ratings in the world."
As Walton notes, banking is a legacy industry that has changed very little in the roughly 600 years it's been around. "It's due for innovation, and Silicon Valley is known as the cradle of innovation," he adds. "It's only natural that the banking industry be disrupted by these big companies that have eased their way into the finance game over the last few years."
Once fintech companies buy a bank and become FDIC-insured, like Portland, Ore.-based Simple has already done, the risk of using a tech company as your bank goes away, Walton says.
Not everyone, of course, believes that banks will entirely go away, and that they will be replaced by fintech giants like Apple or Google. "Yes, Google and Apple will be significant players in the banking industry," says Angelique Mohring, CEO of GainX, a Waterloo, Ontario-based innovation management software-as-a-service company that works closely with financial institutions. "But will they be the banks of the future? No, I don't believe so."
Mohring does believe many of today's banks will become obsolete in the years ahead, while others will redefine themselves and rise as market leaders. "Consider Barclays's aggressive entry into the innovation economy within the last two or three years," Mohring says. "Within a very short period time, they've created a successful brand as a global leader in financial software innovation, as well as being a friend to the global fintech start up community."
Another reason - Mohring says Google and Apple are no less "corporate" than most banks today, with successes and failures in the market from product development to blundered acquisitions. "For now, the banks with an edge in the innovation economy have the advantage of deep industry knowledge and client trust when it comes to their money," she adds. "If they continue to accelerate their innovation strategies and the rate of change we've seen since 2014 -- then crowning 'the bank of future' remains to be seen."
Mohring is correct on that front - it's much too early to crown any future banking kingpins. But that doesn't mean Apple or Google - and a burgeoning number of their young customers - don't have their eyes on the prize.