What banking (and life) could look like in 2021

What banking (and life) could look like in 2021

Miraculously, I lived through my entire undergraduate experience without a cell phone or a laptop*. I kept quarters in my purse in case I had to stop to use the phone and signed up for my first email address right before I graduated. Google was new and had not released their IPO. To write a research paper, I looked up my topic in the library’s catalog to check out books or used the microfiche machine to scroll through microfilm to find articles. Everyone typed papers in the numerous University desktop computer labs. My point? This was (truly!) not that long ago.

There were only 147 million people online at that time – less than 4% of the world’s population. According to the 12th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index complete forecast, 44% of the world’s population is using the internet today. That’s an 1100% growth in adoption rate in less than 20 years! By comparison, during this same period, the world’s population only grew at an average rate of 1.21%.

All of this exponential change in a relatively short time has affected other areas of our lives. Retail banking was one of the first industries to feel the impact of this rapid adoption. Personalization and digital innovation in consumer markets have influenced customer expectations. An explosion of advancements in fintech, insurtech, and regtech that leverage the internet of things, machine learning, automation, robotics and mobile technologies continue to disrupt the financial services industry. It’s hard to keep up and even harder to imagine, at this rate what banking will look like in 5 years.

Cisco’s best and brightest statisticians and data scientists have just released the 12th annual Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast. This free report provides scientifically based predictions for what we think you can expect to see between 2016 and 2021 based on the rate of change during the past five years. A few of the most jaw-dropping facts include:


– U.S. mobile data traffic in 2021 will be equivalent to 12 times the volume of the entire U.S. Internet in 2005. Note that this statistic only refers to mobile data traffic. It does not include everyone who works on laptops and desktops in their offices each day.

– You better pop some popcorn and get comfortable because it would take more than five million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global networks each month by 2021. That equates to one million minutes of video content crossing the network each second.

– Mobile data traffic will grow twice as fast as fixed (wired) traffic. Much of the increase in video consumption will be due to the amount of time that we will spend in our autonomous, driverless cars. With more time during our commutes to focus on our screens instead of the roads, we will be able to absorb a great deal of content.

– Don’t touch the remote yet! In 2021, the equivalent in data of all movies ever made will cross the Internet each minute. That amount of internet traffic is equivalent to 59 billion DVDs per month, or 81 million DVDs per hour. Thank goodness for streaming services, because that’s a lot of movies to remember to return on time!


We created a presentation on the future of banking based on a few highlights from the VNI Forecast that are most relevant to the financial services industry. Visit the VNI Forecast interactive summary for more details from the extended report.


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