The future of retail banking

01. August 2021

Sommersemester 2021 / Unicredit Bank Austria


Banking is a somewhat remote field of interest to most millennials. Many deem it as a simple means of money-storage and paying for respective products and services. However, in recent years new entrants have gained access to the finance market. These Fintechs brought about ways of innovative change in how financial data is used. Many services that have been within the sole field of banks in the past are now, often involuntarily, outsourced to third parties. Aside from that, banks including UniCredit Bank Austria, have noticed the huge demand for digitalization of their services and have shifted their offerings and services accordingly. Millennials are generally more tech-affine and so digital services often suffice their needs with respect to retail banking. It is also known that millennials are very demanding customers which among other things may be traced back to the fact that the internet has facilitated the direct comparison of products and services. Companies that fail to provide customers with unique and value-increasing services will slowly fade away. Bank Austria has recognized these possible repercussions and has therefore proposed the question:

How will retail banking especially in light of the young customer generation (age < 30) develop in the next ten years in Austria?”

To answer that question we have used the Scenario Planning approach. It is intended to facilitate the anticipation of the future and is therefore a highly valuable method to get to the core of the question raised by Bank Austria. However, it is important to bear in mind that Scenario Planning is not claiming by any means to predict the future, as there are simply too many variables involved affecting what might materialize and what does not. With that being said, the general structure and the outcomes of the course are described in the following paragraphs.

Scenario Planning comprises three major stages - namely the trend analysis, the scenario development and subsequent strategic implications.

In the first stage – the trend analysis, 80 trends with a potential impact on retail banking have been determined. They were then narrowed down to the 26 most impactful trends and categorized with the PESTEL-framework. Among these trends are the digitalization of services, a reliable software, social media, open banking and many more. Subsequently, we used a correlation matrix and causal loop diagram to display the interdependencies of the respective trends and an impact- and predictability matrix, which is intended to assess the trends by their impact on the focal question and the predictability as the name already suggests. This is important as it constitutes the critical uncertainties that are essential to the creation of the scenarios which are the core element of Scenario Planning.

The critical uncertainties we determined were the relevance of cryptocurrencies and a conscious lifestyle and consumption.

In the second stage – the scenario development, 4 distinct scenarios which are based on the critical uncertainties, were created. The general idea is to make future scenarios more tangible and relatable to the reader. Each of these scenarios are completely independent from one another and are to be considered as likely or unlikely to occur as their counterparts.

In the third and last stage – the strategic implications, several implications specifically related to each of the distinct scenarios and general strategic implications that fit in every scenario have been determined. In our case general recommendations would for instance be a holistic integration of digital servicing, the adoption of social media and cooperations with Fintechs.

Additionally, early warning signals have been determined to help Bank Austria in detecting when a Scenario might be more likely to occur than another.

All the points mentioned above have been derived using mostly qualitative methods, which include a certain degree of subjectivity. Yet it is a good approach on what might materialize in some form and can therefore be considered a valuable input for Bank Austria.

Cooperation Partner

  • Unicredit Bank Austria AG

  • Rothschildplatz 1

  • 1020 Vienna, Austria

Contact Person

  • Anna-Lena Schinner

  • Mag. Marion Morales Albinana-Rosner

  • Mag. (FH) Cornelia Zimmermann

  • Philipp Pfeller, BsC

Student team

  • Sebastian Amann

  • Florent Aradini

  • Rui Chen

  • Annika Klopf

  • Maximilian Lahrmann


  • Erik Kommol, M.Sc.

  • Dr. Sonja Sperber

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