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WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY POWERING BANKS OUT OF THE STORM

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Graham Brooks, Strategic Account Director, Cradlepoint EMEA

 

It’s now clear the pandemic is going to have a long-term effect on the British high street. Back in April high street retailers, shop owners, and bank branch employees were wondering: ‘How many weeks will this last?’ By July, ‘weeks’ were swapped for ‘months’. Now it’s clear that life on the high street will be affected for longer than initially expected. Many brands have already shut numerous stores or are looking at the prospect of administration. Bank branches, too, are experiencing the brute force of the pandemic’s impact.

For a while, temporary measures in response to lockdown restrictions appeared to suffice. Flimsy plastic barriers and paper signs were printed and tacked up on the walls. But with the long-term impact now clear and the prospect of another year of social distancing, bank branches must transition to more permanent solutions. This means less people and more machines – contactless services, new cash deposit systems, and digital signage.

Digitisation is no longer an option for banks to ensure a continuous flow of new customers. It’s an imperative. In this article, we explore how wireless technology is going to help them facilitate that change.

 

Graham Brooks

Relying on connectivity for optimal service

Traditional banks now face their biggest challenge in history: digital-only banking. Over two-thirds of participants in a 2020 study planned to transition to a digital-only bank in the future. It’s therefore vital that traditional banks running physical branches update in-branch customer experience to compete with the new pack on the prairie. Reliability plays a big part. So does trust.

The future of in-branch experience lies in technologies such as IoT, VR/AR, and AI, all of which are highly data-intensive. Reliable connectivity is therefore critical, and banks should be shooting for zero-downtime connectivity, allowing no room for gaps in service.

To do this, banks can deploy Gigabit-class 4G LTE (LTE Advanced) or 5G adapters that bridge to a traditional ethernet connection, providing a wireless option to the wired-line router. Then, in the rare scenario where wireless connectivity is down, at least one of the WAN connections is always guaranteed to be live. The router has the autonomy to determine when failover is necessary.

Better still, the reliability of modern Gigabit 4G LTE and 5G connectivity now means that failover is often unnecessary. A branch can, therefore, run its network independent of a wired-line connection and benefit from the security and agility of a resilient wireless network, while still providing enterprise-grade connectivity.

Branch network reliability, in this way, will support the bank’s reliability as a whole. In turn, this will fuel the higher standards of customer experience needed to compete with more agile digital-only banks.

 

IoT bridging gaps in communication

The first organised response to stop the spread of the virus around the world was social distancing. While transparent screens can be used to block transmission, the overarching effect of these measures has been a loss of communication capabilities. This will affect banks like it has everywhere else, if not more as a space where interaction is so important.

IoT technology will be core to overcoming these barriers. Digital signage, kiosks, and surveillance cameras will all contribute to improved communication and security, and a better customer banking experience. But to enable such extensive use of IoT devices operating on a single network, banks must ensure they can accommodate such high levels of data transfer. Using Gigabit 4G LTE connectivity to extend its services beyond traditional network infrastructure, banks will achieve the required levels of bandwidth.

 

Cloud management simplifying in-branch communications

With high volumes of data being transferred across the network, security and availability should be at the top of the agenda when digitising bank branches. But these are not always easy to implement, especially in an environment with several complex networks of endpoints.

For example, marketing teams need to push personalised content to customers on digital signs and IT teams need to set visitors up on a guest WiFi network. These operations require the guarantee of security and availability, with trust and the customer experience at the core.

Wireless networks excel in this aspect as they can employ the benefits of a cloud-based management system. Cloud-based systems make it easier for bank staff working from home, who can access the same assets and applications from their sofa as they would otherwise have in-branch. The service is the same.

Cloud management systems also provide improved network visibility, giving IT teams endpoint information from across the network as it happens. With security patches being updated on devices simultaneously, leaving reduced time for opportunistic attacks to exploit known vulnerabilities.

Equally, by using a hybrid Gigabit 4G LTE network in tandem with a wired connection, businesses can achieve simplicity from an otherwise complex challenge. The primary wired network can be used to transmit any sensitive information securely, while a separate network using the Gigabit 4G LTE connection runs other in-branch operations.

The branch’s network, in this way, is ‘air-gapped’. The secure data being processed by the operations team runs on an essentially separate network to that of the marketing team’s content. The network will also increase its ability to process more information, with its workload spread out.

The simplest solutions are often the best. In this case, exploiting a hybrid network can address the complexities of security and availability when employing enterprise-grade connectivity.

 

Good things come to those who prepare

As the pandemic continues, banks will have to be flexible in their approach to branch management. But in the long run, it’s clear that digital investment will be one aspect they cannot neglect. How they approach this challenge is also important. But with an inherent reliability, flexibility and security of enterprise-grade wireless edge solutions, branch services will be on their way to sustainable digital development.

As with most things, good things come to those who prepare, not wait. Those banks that adopt innovative technology early will come out on top.

 

Banking

THE ART OF BIOMETRIC PAYMENT CARDS: WHY BANKS NEED TO GET DESIGN-SAVVY

Lina Andolf-Orup, Senior Director at Fingerprints

 

Biometric payment cards have ticked several important boxes in the last year. The technology has achieved certification from major payment networks, costs have reduced, and manufacturing has become simpler, and the first commercial launches have begun.

But as more banks move to offer this technology to their customers, it is important to consider design. The look and feel of any new technology is central to its success among consumers, but it can be commonly overlooked or an afterthought. In fact, when asked about biometric payment cards, 30%1 of consumers cited design as important, while just 15%2 of banks we spoke to had it on their agenda.

But why is it so important? And what considerations have already been made to ensure this technology offers not only a technical edge, but a desirable addition to a bank’s offering.

 

A makeover on the cards

Even before the pandemic, the physical bank branch was dying out as consumers moved to digital, on-demand services. As such, the payment card is one of the few remaining physical relationships customers have with their bank.

Mobile-centric challenger banks have captured the attention of consumers with design and user-experience (UX) at the heart of their strategy. Beautiful cards alongside sleek mobile apps are helping them build bigger brands, with the traditional card reimagined by the likes of Monzo with its bright coral card, Starling with its sleek, minimalist front and vertical orientation, and Klarna with its card delivered to you in a fluffy ‘fur-lined’ envelope. Other banks have even launched ‘design-your-own’ options.

Lina Andolf-Orup

For traditional banks, there’s huge opportunity to strengthen relationships and build customer loyalty, especially when launching a new technology. The opportunity to strengthen brand is key, which is just one of the reasons the latest generation of fingerprint sensor for cards is even smaller, meaning more space to play with on-card, and hence more space for banks to build their brand.

 

Defining design

For banks, there’s a business case for a wide scope of consumer segments with biometric payment cards – from millennials and gen Z, to business, more premium, or older customers. While unsurprisingly younger demographics rated the card design’s importance highest, 1 in 4 over 50s also noted it as significant factor.

So, any design needs to appeal to a broad audience, but what exactly do consumers want to see from their biometric payment card? We sought feedback from consumers to help decide our latest sensor design and the responses made interesting reading.

‘Modern’ and ‘personal’ were the highest rated design traits across all age groups and geographies, with Europeans especially favouring a ‘modern’ design. It makes sense – the excitement of getting the latest technology would undoubtedly be dimmed if it looked just like any old bank card. Interestingly, the Chinese market ranked a techy feel as important too, with over 50% marking it as a preference.

We also wanted to see how different designs made consumers feel. Here there was some variance but undeniably, responses show that consumers felt that having the biometric sensor in the card was something to be excited about and to show off. Crucially, consumers also responded that it was easy to understand how to use the sensor from the design. Which leads me to another important aspect…

 

“Cool card, now what?”

How a technology feels and the UX it delivers is closely intertwined with design. On this point, our research also found a gap between banks and consumer opinion. Nearly half of consumers cited usability, how the card feels, and knowing where to place their finger as a priority, while just 1 in 3 banks saw it as a concern.

Consumers are quick to feel frustrated and abandon new technologies if they are too complex or difficult to use. Poor design can easily lead to poor UX, compromising successful onboarding and adoption even after significant investment.

The enrollment process is another vital aspect. Our consumer research and trial feedback has shown just how important this initial ‘meeting’ with your new payment card is. Enrolling your fingerprint needs to be intuitive and uncomplicated as a minimum. To truly make biometric payment cards a success, consumers need to feel engaged and excited from the get-go, as well as trust that their new card is going to work from first tap in store.

Last year, we collaborated with UX-specialist BlockZero to create an ‘out of the box’ creative enrollment concept with a companion mobile app, but banks have options to offer to their cardholders, including enrolling via a mobile app, with a powered sleeve, or in-branch. Banks need to carefully consider their customer base to select what option best fits, as undoubtedly the preferred way to enroll will differ between markets and demographics. From our research it’s clear however that both consumers and banks want a simple and secure self-enrollment option and a rich first touch-point with these new cards.

 

Looking good

From our research, we shaped our new sensor design to be one that struck the perfect balance between modern, personal, and techy, while gesturing to our branding. After all, design savvy cards need a good-looking sensor, too!

 

Too often, design and UX is shoe-horned in after the fact but for consumers, it is a priority. Already at an early stage we thought about the actual aesthetic design of the new sensor, and not just the technology and performance. For banks rolling out this exciting technology, factoring in ergonomics and design from the start guarantees their customers – and prospective customers – have something they can be proud of, use, trust and maybe even talk about.

Learn more about launching biometric payment cards.  

Fingerprints research in collaboration with Kantar, Dec 2019, 1,200 consumers across France, UK, China

Fingerprints in collaboration with PayTech, 2019. 25 card issuer/banks in 7 countries

 

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Banking

ORGANISATIONAL ALIGNMENT KEY TO MAXIMISING POTENTIAL OF OPEN BANKING

  • Lack of internal alignment risks holding financial institutions back from realising open banking potential
  • 70% of C-level executives recognise the open banking opportunity but just 45% of product owners feel the same
  • Majority of respondents (59%) across financial institutions are confident they have the talent available to make the most of open banking, but only 43% of product owners feel they have the necessary resource

New data from open banking platform Tink has today revealed that whilst there is overall positive thinking about open banking within European financial institutions, a lack of internal alignment risks holding them back from realising its full potential.

The findings reveal notable differences in how the open banking opportunity is perceived throughout financial institutions, and diverging views on open banking capabilities and skills across different parts of the business. This organisational divide reflects the sheer size and scale of the task banks are facing to transform their operations to become open banking ready and meet new customer needs.

According to the new data, over two-thirds (70%) of the C-suite see the opportunity that open banking presents right across their organisation. They also believe it provides good value for money with a similar percentage (67%) believing the benefits outweigh the potential costs.

However, whilst senior teams may be buying into open banking, the research paints a more varied picture across other parts of the business. Most channel owners (63%), responsible for the online, mobile or developer interfaces, recognise the open banking opportunity across their organisation. In contrast, less than half (45%) of product owners feel the same way.

 

 

Differing views on skills and resourcing requirements may go some way to explaining the levels of buy in for open banking across the business. The majority of respondents in financial institutions are positive about having the talent available within the organisation to execute on open banking objectives (59% on average).

Those who work in IT are the most confident (65%) they have the skills to deliver on open banking, followed by groups working with management (61%) and digital or mobile banking channels (60%). However, only 43% of product owners are confident their team has the required resources to capitalise on open banking.

This might explain a lack of agreement on whether products and services being offered to customers are taking full advantage of the organisation’s open banking capabilities. The overwhelming majority of those within the IT department (67%) said they believe open banking capabilities are being leveraged in this way. This is in stark contrast to under a third (32%) of executives in the digital and mobile banking department who feel the same.

 

Rafael Plantier, UK and Ireland Country Manager at Tink, said: Whilst fast-growing challengers in the industry continue to make moves, banks remain in the best position to offer integrated open banking services. As custodians of money and providers of financial services they already have a solid foundation of customers that trust them and are therefore willing to share data.

“However, we should not underestimate the enormity of the task that financial institutions face in transforming their operations to become open banking ready. It is to be expected that there are differing levels of buy in for open banking across the organisation, and pockets of the business that may lag behind in embracing the opportunity.

“As those in the C-suite evolve their open banking strategy, there is opportunity to fill possible knowledge or culture gaps to ensure alignment. Whether it be through strategic fintech partnerships, acquisitions or internal re-alignment, banks can ensure they are well placed in the race to create the best possible customer experience from open banking.”

 

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