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By Dermot McCauley, Vice President, Solutions Product Marketing, Kofax

The next generation of banking customers is here, and they want all digital banking, be it on their mobile, desktop, tablet or voice-enabled device. Customers want simple, convenient and secure interactions with their financial institutions. And if they don’t get it, they’ll jump ship to a competitor.

The question is, can the industry meet these new expectations? And what needs to happen to capture and keep customers in a highly competitive marketplace, with FinTechs nipping at the heels of established players?

The state of digital banking today

Just a few years ago, “omni-channel” was the buzzword. Companies recognised that they needed to reach customers on multiple platforms – digital, social media, in-person, on the phone – and provide consistent branding and service levels. But PwC’s 2017 study of banking consumers discovered that these omni-channel customers are being replaced by the “omni-digital” customer. Their research found that almost half (46 percent) of consumers now use only digital channels, a 19 percent increase from 2013.

The problem, notes the Digital Banking Report, is that “most institutions – and the industry as a whole – haven’t kept pace with consumer expectations around digital capabilities or digital engagement at the initiation of the customer relationship. The majority of institutions can’t open an account entirely online or on a mobile device.” In fact, half of the top 20 banks in Forbes Top 100 Best Banks in America don’t even offer an option to open an account online, several don’t provide a mobile-friendly site either.

Another growing trend is the increasing preference for mobile, over browser or tablet, as the home venue for all banking activity. In PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey, mobile dominant customers grew from 10 percent to 15 percent of customers in just one year. “To a growing number of consumers, banking just is a mobile activity,” they observe. And, yes, a significant number of these consumers are in the 18- to 24-year old age group, but consumers’ needs also vary by income bracket, type of transaction, and geographic location.

What’s at stake

The bottom line is that if banks don’t up their game and make onboarding and other processes easy, they risk losing significant market share. A difficult onboarding process can result in consumers opting out before completing the new account application. At some banks, that abandonment rate can be as high as 90 percent. Millennials, in particular, have higher digital expectations and banks risk losing them at higher rates, which is especially dangerous because they’re maturing financially, having the need for more – and more sophisticated – financial products as they age. Today’s consumer is much more likely to switch banks when the new account origination process has too many speed bumps. According to recent research, 43 percent of consumers said a poor account opening experience would result in them “definitely or probably” switching banks.

Moving ahead into the all-digital banking world

The biggest speed bumps in the onboarding process often result from legacy banking systems that still require some manual work and paper-based interactions. For example, maybe the consumer begins the process on their smartphone, but they’ve got to come into the branch to complete the process. Millennials want one-click transactions, secure and easy. They have become accustomed to initiating actions with a swipe of the finger and have come of age in a time of knowledge-based authentication, face recognition, and biometric signatures. Paper? That’s so 20th century. Why not, say Millennials, allow me to snap a picture of the needed documentation?

Financial institutions can’t afford to be reactive. In this competitive marketplace, banks need intelligent automation to stay one step ahead of the customer. Here are some actions to guide you in building the onboard experience of tomorrow, today.

Make the initial information-intensive interactions digital and easy. Digitise processes that used to require paper-based documentation so that the customer doesn’t have to mail, fax or deliver paper to the branch, especially when it involves opening a new account. Automate identity checks while ensuring compliance and security.

Provide seamless, any-channel access with no speed bumps. Today’s customers want to start the process in one channel, perhaps their smartphone, then exit and continue the application via other channels if necessary. They have come to expect transparency in all their digital consumer experiences and want it from their bank as well.

Know your target customer(s) and what they value most. Which channels do your customers use most often? Mobile, browser, in-person at the branch, or a combination? Which transactions do they want to complete online vs. in-person? Use intelligent analytics to observe customers’ behaviour and preferences. Look to cut costs in areas of least importance to your customers while delivering better experiences where customers want them.

Replace legacy platforms with technology that streamlines business processes. Stop pouring money into old systems. Recent research found that up to 90 percent of financial institutions’ technology budgets are being used to support aging systems. Streamlining and digitising your processes with intelligent automation preserves the best of your historical IT investment while allowing you to deliver the better experience that captures and keeps more customers.

So much is riding on the initial onboarding process that it’s essential to make it easy and hassle-free. It’s an opportunity to show today’s tech-savvy customers that your institution understands their needs and can deliver the customer experience of tomorrow, today. It’s an opportunity to build a solid relationship that will reap benefits beyond a simple checking account.


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