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WHY THE TIME IS NOW TO BANK BEYOND BORDERS

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by Lili Metodieva, MD of Monneo

 

As our world becomes more interconnected, so too does the need for banking systems to follow suit. In the past, businesses and individuals were often restricted to banking in a single country, but the rise of borderless banking is enabling both to benefit from greater financial freedoms. In this article, we will examine why this trend is so important and explain how Fintech companies are helping to make it possible.

 

What is borderless banking?

Simply put, borderless banking refers to any bank account, which allows users to spend, send and receive money across different countries and currencies, without incurring heavy fees. The concept has become increasingly popular in recent years, with more people now working in cross-border job roles and with many businesses requiring capital in a different currency than that of their country of origin.

For customers, borderless banking is making cross-border financial transactions more efficient and cost-effective. Through its rise, businesses and individuals can gain easier access to international streams of capital, which is crucial in this current moment of economic uncertainty. In fact, 74% of companies say cross-border payments have helped their business to survive [1].

 

Where do IBANs come in?

International Banking Account Numbers (IBAN) play a crucial role in facilitating borderless banking. The globally recognised system enables cross-border transactions to happen safely, by providing each international bank account with its own unique 36-digit alphanumerical code. On account of this code, financial institutions can quickly identify where funds are coming from, as well as where they’re going to.

More recently, providers such as us have been able to deliver Virtual IBANs (vIBAN). Working alongside a network of well-established European and International banks, we’re able to offer businesses a single platform interface that consolidates the management of all IBAN accounts. In turn, our multi-currency service makes conducting global financial transactions incredibly straightforward.

 

How has Brexit affected borderless banking?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of borderless banking and services related to it, but other developments, such as Brexit are beginning to stand in its way. Most notably, the drawn-out withdrawal process has seeded a growing reluctance amongst risk averse, larger organisations to settle transactions using UK bank accounts or IBANs, due to unfounded concerns around regulatory complexity.

Despite leaving the EU, the UK remains a member of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), so it’s unclear why these concerns around British IBAN accounts exist. Regardless, this unfortunate development must be addressed quickly as it has the potential to adversely affect the livelihood of businesses and individuals at a time of critical need.

 

What does the future hold for borderless banking?

There’s clear demand for borderless banking and borderless payments, but the discrimination of certain IBAN accounts represents a major obstacle, which could stand in the way of their widescale adoption. Moving forward, there needs to be a push towards borderless IBANs, which will make international financial transactions more reliable. At the end of the day, this is what IBANs were originally created for, so it’s important the current problems are rectified quickly.

To ensure this can happen, the industry needs protection and clarity from regulators. Likewise, it’s now time for membership organisations to stand up on behalf of the sector and lobby for the financial inclusion of businesses.

If the confusion regarding UK IBAN accounts can be sorted in a timely manner, businesses across the nation, as well as those further afield can look forward to a future of more streamlined and effective financial services. With this support, the diverse sector can deliver further access to innovative financial services and products, which improve outcomes for businesses and consumers alike.

As a sector, Fintech has the potential to provide vital assistance to the wider economy, particularly in an era of increased cross-border business. At Monneo, we’re committed to being part of that change and as a part of organisations like ‘Accept my IBAN’, are working towards reporting and ending IBAN discrimination.

[1] – https://www.mastercard.com/news/research-reports/2021/borderless-payments-report/

 

Banking

IT’S TIME FOR BANKS TO SIT THEIR CUSTOMERS DOWN AND TALK OPEN BANKING

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Eugene Danilkis, CEO at Mambu

 

We are living in an experience economy, and banking is no different. Customers need innovative payment and finance management solutions. New entrants are edging into the landscape and challenging existing players. This should mean users have a better view of their finances and the tools they need to manage their money – but banks are failing to deliver.

Personal finances are a complex beast, emotional pulls are strong, and the worry of financial security is always on the mind. It’s the job of banks to be the shoulders customers can lean on and trust.

Open banking was supposed to take this to the next level, enabling banks to deliver personalised products and services based on improved data sharing and customer insights. But three years on, adoption remains sluggish. So, why is open banking failing to live up to its promise?

 

A missed opportunity

Open banking was introduced to the UK in 2018, but consumers are still mired in confusion as to what it means and how it helps them. According to Mambu’s global open banking survey, 61% of consumers say they’ve never used open banking, despite more than 8 in 10 using one or more mobile banking apps.

Eugene Danilkis

This is a problem for banks and consumers alike. Lack of understanding around the technology is hindering its adoption, despite this being in the best interests of both. By enabling the secure sharing of financial information, open banking creates an improved customer experience. Not only does this minimise friction and make online payments faster and easier, but allows for personalised services and greater automation, enabling customers to take advantage of tools like budgeting apps.

For banks, open banking is an opportunity to build innovative new products that will improve the customer journey, helping them retain accounts and acquire new ones. By collaborating with third parties, banks can hyper-target customers and build services that address specific user needs, increasing customer satisfaction and in turn brand loyalty.

It’s true there’s been a recent spike in open banking users. According to Juniper Research global, open banking users rose from 18 million in 2018 to 40 million in 2021. But this can be traced to the necessities of a pandemic rather than any sudden clarity in communications.

 

Putting customers at the heart of communication

Mambu’s research shows more than half of consumers (52%) have never heard of open banking. COVID-19 may have increased the uptake of the technology, but it hasn’t increased understanding among users.

So, what can banks do to encourage consumers to embrace open banking? Fundamentally, they must better educate their customers in terms they understand. This means talking to them like human beings, using clear and transparent language to simply explain the personal benefits open banking brings and why it’s really just smart banking.

The understanding gap between technology and terminology shows that consumer demand is there, but better communication is needed. Making sure consumers truly understand the tools they’re using, the control they now have over their finances and how open banking improves the customer experience is vital to dispersing the current fog of confusion. It’s the benefits of this technology that banks need to hone in on: customers ultimately care about what open banking can do for them and how it’s going to make their lives easier.

Centering the customer and their needs in this way will allow banks to fully realise open banking’s potential. The technology has already given them the opportunity to develop valuable services for customers that help build brand loyalty. But the industry has failed to put the customer at the heart of their communications and processes, and show them how much better banking can be.

 

Building trust

Key to reversing this trend is addressing consumer concerns around data privacy and financial safety. Yes, banks need to prioritise simplicity and clarity in messaging, but this isn’t an excuse to shy away from important conversations. Just because there’s an understanding gap around open banking doesn’t mean consumers aren’t switched on about tech and financial issues.

Mambu’s survey found nearly three in five customers have concerns about privacy and security in relation to open banking. So, it’s vital that banks provide reassurance and relevant information about data sharing from the outset if they’re to assuage these fears.

The industry can also encourage greater adoption by developing and improving open banking interfaces. Banks are the gatekeepers to how easily end-users can authorise certain actions, manage third-party access and navigate different open banking functions. If the interface is user-friendly, customers will have a better experience of the technology and be more likely to use and recommend these services.

 

Time to get talking

Customer communication is holding the industry back.. The ability of open banking to transform financial services is a concept that industry players are well-versed in. But the feeling isn’t mutual for customers.

Banks are failing to capitalise on the open banking opportunity by engaging with new and existing customers about what the technology can do for them. Debunking  common myths can open the door to increased growth and trust for banks, as they seek to open up new revenue streams post pandemic..

Make no mistake, open banking isn’t going away. But customers will if banks don’t get talking.

 

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Banking

WILL CHALLENGER OR TRADITIONAL BANKS WIN THE SECURE CARD PAYMENTS BATTLE?

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By Vince Graziani, CEO, IDEX Biometrics ASA

 

Challenger banks have shaken up the payment ecosystem in the last decade. These forward-thinking offerings have attracted millions of users, thanks to better customer experiences and financial services more attuned to modern life. Combine this with a growing trend for smartphone banking the change has led to these branchless, mobile-only banking service providers snapping at the heels of their more established rivals.

The term challenger bank is used to describe any banking service provider looking to take on and win customers from the big, corporate, or traditional banks. And now we’re beyond their early start-up days of 2015, these brands present a growing market opportunity, putting established banks under increased pressure as they battle for the next generation of customers.

US-based start-up Chime is now valued at $14.5 billion and is IPO-ready. In the UK, Revolut— which has more than 14 million customers—is worth more than long-standing high street bank NatWest. Meanwhile Papara, a Turkish banking challenger has grown to eight million users, and is gearing up for European expansion in 2021, with Germany as its first growth market. Also in Europe, Swedish financial service challenger Rocker has received €48 million in equity funding only 18 months after it launched. This presents some serious competition to traditional banks around the world.

 

Our payment habits are changing

Meanwhile, the pandemic has impacted the world’s financial habits. Today consumers are using less cash, more contactless payments and want to keep a closer eye on spending patterns. As more people move their lives online, digital challengers have been well placed to take advantage of this trend.

According to Ipsos Mori’s personal banking report, challenger banks are cementing their position ahead of some of the biggest financial brands in customer service, showing that innovation and modern ideas are revolutionising the market.

For a new generation of tech-savvy customers, challenger banks also offer something a little more fashionable, with strong branding and messaging, meeting banking needs with a customer-friendly service that fits around them, not the other way round.

 

Big banks need to play catch up

Big banks have been playing catch up over the past few years. They were late to the game and have retroactively started backfilling their account offerings with spending trackers and spending notifications. But chasing the features of more agile, mobile-focused competitors isn’t enough to help them thrive in a changing banking world.

In particular, as these challengers also gain competitive advantage by creating new payment options that reflect both customer demand and a need for additional security and convenience of a changing world. As studies show that payment cards will dominate the banking scene for at least the next decade, bank players need to revolutionise their own payment card offerings to respond to consumer demands.

 

A new approach to payment options

With consumers concerned about security, convenience, and speedy payment options in an increasingly cashless world, big banks must embrace new biometric technology.

A smart fingerprint authentication payment card already far exceeds the security of PIN authentication. This new generation of on-card fingerprint recognition technology has shown to be more than twice as secure[1] as traditional card payment transactions requiring a four-digit PIN.

Fingerprint data is also held securely on the card, not in a shared database, meaning personal biometric data never leaves the card and cannot be hacked, recreated, or breached. By linking the user to their card via the unique properties of their fingerprint, banks and retailers can create a payment process that is safe, speedy and highly secure –while making it clear that banks are looking to the future and a financial world that is more inclusive.

Fingerprint authentication also removes barriers for those with literacy challenges or memory difficulties because biometric payment cards simply rely on who they are – allowing consumers to be their own authentication. Biometric cards can also be used to provide direct and unequivocal identification to help the financially excluded open bank accounts and improve their credit scores and they can be used in any corner of the world, even in the most remote locations with limited cloud connection.

 

Embrace new biometric innovation to gain top-of-wallet status

As our economy looks to bounce back from the last two years, fingerprint biometric payment cards offer a safe, secure, hygienic payment authentication, providing an additional layer of security and trust in a cashless world. Banks must embrace new biometric technology to provide their customers with an enhanced customer experience that goes beyond copying app features and delivers essential security to their payments.

These smart payment cards support a secure and straightforward approach to payments while also making it clear that the banks are looking to the future. This opens up for challengers as well as incumbents to compete for and gain top-of-wallet status. With technology evolving at lightning speed, now is the time for the banking sector to embrace innovation and win the fintech play. The challenger banks may be more agile in making fast moves, while the traditional banks often have the reach and power to scale fast.

 

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