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HOW TECHNOLOGY IS DISRUPTING THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY

13/02/2019

If organisations hope to adapt and thrive in the face of the tsunami of technology now encroaching, they will have to be more flexible and daring in their approach. Over the past decade, certain players in the finance industry have invested, introduced and integrated more sophisticated tech into their operations in order to gain competitive advantage. Digital innovation in the banking sector has added a new dimension to that challenge, and financial institutions need to adhere to a new set of rules if they want to do more than survive.

 

Contactless technology, mobile payment systems, banking and online chatbots have heightened consumer needs and expectations. Customers now expect efficient and seamless banking experiences that fit neatly around their lives. They want everything in a heartbeat. ‘Generation Immediate’ has little or no time for call centres, branch visits or online banking system errors. And the generation to follow will be even less forgiving.

 

It is crucial, then, to stay ahead of the demand. This ambition is the driving force behind MONETA Money Bank’s digital transformation journey. MONETA provides retail and commercial banking, as well as other financial services, in the Czech Republic. The bank services one million clients, runs more than 200 branches and operates over 650 ATMs. In 2017, MONETA embarked on a four-year digital transformation strategy to build market-leading digital capabilities, increase market share and satisfy the increasing demand for online services, with the goal to sell at least 40% of its major products online by 2020.

 

A transformation of this size and scope is no easy feat, especially for a bank with large, complex and disjointed legacy systems accrued from its two-decade history. A particularly high hurdle for MONETA’s transformation strategy was the age of its integration system. The MONETA team found that they were being held back by an outdated 15-year-old platform, which meant the bank was unable to support industry standards such as Open APIs. Changing the platform became a fundamental part of MONETA’s strategy and it needed to find an experienced middleware partner that could support the bank in its migration of an old system that supported around 40 million calls per day. To that end, MONETA partnered with Mitra Innovation, a global technology company that specialises in digital transformation, cloud enablement and software development, to implement a new banking Integration Platform (IP).

 

Banks need a solid, agile architecture in place if they are to embrace automation or digitally develop at a meaningful pace. It is important, however, to remember that changing a system has a knock-on effect on processes and people (processes undertaken by people have to adapt according to the needs of the system in question). Organisations therefore need to ensure there is operational and role clarity before a transformation begins. Without a sustained effort to engage employees in the change process, it doesn’t matter how good a new system is – it will fail if people do not know how to use it or make the most of it.

 

This was a key challenge for MONETA because asking employees to adopt a new approach to working could be met with resistance if the leadership team neglected to communicate the benefits. Not only would a move to agile allow the bank to better manage API life-cycle, throttling and security, but it would also help pave the way for the bank to work towards its 2020 target of becoming a digital leader.

 

Change management requires confidence. It also involves an in-depth level of engagement with those affected. Employees responsible for the new system need to have the relevant skills as well as an entrepreneurial spirit and a ‘can do’ attitude. In other words, the workforce’s mindset needs to be as agile as the new digital infrastructure.

 

In order to influence company culture and behaviour so that it aligns with the digital transformation, MONETA invests heavily in its development strategy to ensure that its people can help execute and deliver the best possible service to the end customer, while ensuring those same people are empowered and buy into the transformational journey. MONETA works with external coaches and partners to design and deliver agile workshops to help everyone prepare for the changes ahead and to support people throughout the lifecycle of the transformation. These workshops are also crucial in communicating everyone’s role in pushing the company forward.

 

Mitra has helped MONETA during its digital transformation by building a platform that can deliver the services it needs to make it more competitive in the Czech Republic market of modern banking and support its agile development. MONETA can now focus on building market-leading digital capabilities and satisfying the increasing demand for modern services. For example, in order to deliver and exceed the expectations of Generation Immediate, the company has developed an award-winning mobile banking application Smart Banka and is significantly revamping its online banking solutions. This has only been possible by adopting an up-to-date integration platform and by working on the culture piece that goes with it.

 

MONETA’s intent to remain competitive, to comply with the latest Open API regulations, and to connect with the younger population has acted as a tricolour catalyst for the digital transformation programme that, thanks to a scalable architecture, promises to support its rapid growth into a leading challenger bank.

 

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Finance Derivative is a global financial and business analysis magazine, published by FM.Publishing. It is a yearly print and online magazine providing broad coverage and analysis of the financial industry, international business and the global economy.