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Banking

TRADITIONAL BANKS THREATENED BY DIMINISHING CUSTOMER LOYALTY

Traditional Banks

By Amit Dua, President & Global Head of Client Facing Group, SunTec Group  

 

Solution: Creating the Enterprise of Tomorrow through Hyper-personalization, Legacy Transformation, Open Banking

 

Harry Gordon Selfridge, who founded Selfridge’s department store in London more than a century ago, is given credit for the saying “the customer is always right.” He instilled the mantra in his employees and built a hugely successful business by personalizing the retail buying experience of his customers.

Today, the term “customer service” is regarded by many consumers as an oxymoron. Customers still want and expect a personalized experience. Yet, everyone has a story of a bad experience trying to correct an error on a bank statement or question a suspicious transaction on a credit card (some even do a rudimentary cost-benefit analysis of the time they expect to waste in calling the customer service department: is it worth an hour on hold to fix a $5 error?)

Bad experiences lead to diminishing customer loyalty to brands. Add to this, the entry of BigTechs like Amazon, Apple, Google,etc (who in fact are known for their customer-centricity) foraying into the banking industry along with the many agile& nimble FinTechs that can disrupt the last mile payments  and other functions, the current banking market scenario is quite interesting.  According to Business Insider, 73 percent of US consumers are open to considering a new brand in at least one shopping category –  “This doesn’t mean that consumers are constantly looking to abandon the brands they’re loyal to, but it does suggest brands are always at risk of losing customers.” Many businesses have resorted to loyalty programs offering rebates, prizes, etc. in often-desperate attempts to keep their customers from defecting.

Amit Dua

In the retail banking sector, traditional banks have spent billions of dollars over the past decade on online banking, mobile deposits, bill payment platforms, instant money transfer systems and more. At the same time, businesses like Transferwise, PayPal, Venmo and others are chipping away at traditional banking. As a result, digital transformation for many banks has become more reactive as high-tech, non-bank competitors emerge.

 

The fundamental problem: traditional banks are siloed

The challenges facing banks today are much deeper than finding the right technology to enable digital transformation. Traditional banks must focus on the synergy between their often-siloed, front-end channels, such as mobile, app or web and their often-forgotten middle and back-end systems. This is easier sketched on a whiteboard than achieved to the satisfaction of today’s bank customers.

The middle and back-office transaction processing systems are critical to banks, serving as the backbone of the entire organization. They have been built over many years with a combination of systems and applications. These middle and back-office layers are where the banks’ business logic, financial products, core processes, metadata and many other business-related assets are stored in its core systems. It is within these layers that banks run their auditing, monitoring for risk and compliance, as well as their business decision algorithms. Given the critical nature of the day-to-day operations of a bank, the growing complexity and size of these layers make transformational change an extremely risky endeavour. Customer experiences with banks are separated, often hard to streamline.

Meanwhile, bank customers want customized products to follow their journeys and meet their specific needs. For example, a bank’s customer wants a holistic a home-buying experience versus shopping for a mortgage, hiring a lawyer, setting up utility services and/or finding contractors for needed improvements. Cookie cutter products will no longer cut it. Banks need to move up their customers’ perceived value chains or they risk their customers moving elsewhere.

 

The solution: Banks must modernize and hyperpersonalize

The solution does not need to be infinitely complex. Deploying a digital core middle layer allows orchestration across the silos within the bank. This eliminates any disconnect to the back-office layer, without a fundamental overhaul of the entire system. This headache-free transformation provides the agility required for modern banking by progressively transitioning the business logic out from the complex legacy core to the middle digital core layer. It also has the advantage of letting banks run digital transformation at the pace that best suits their customers.

A big opportunity for banks to achieve profitable digital transformation is through the concept of “Open Banking.” Banks have often viewed new government regulation with a deep skepticism. Now, however, perhaps the most technologically significant regulation is emerging in open banking regulations like PSD2 for Europe, similar regulations in the UK and Hong Kong, and upcoming ones in Australia and Singapore. These new regulations look to fundamentally disrupt banking by requiring banks to open their customer data and payments infrastructure to third parties. Traditional banks’ most valuable asset, customer data, is now available for all to see. Where once this was proprietary bank information, now the customers and competitors can assess its value too.

Open banking challenges traditional banks to “hyperpersonalize” the customer experience. Banks can now offer products and services from external ecosystem partners who complement existing offerings, thereby enhancing the holistic experience for the customer. For traditional banks, open banking is a blessing and a curse. What it takes with one hand, it gives back with the other – but only for banks willing to innovate to retain the customers they know and have a larger wallet share of those customers’ transactions.

 

Conclusion

In today’s banking environment, a lack of agility is the recipe for dissatisfaction and bank customer churn. There is a better way. To build the bank of tomorrow, banks need to start by being digital native and the safest way to be do that is by moving all the business logic and product variation design into the middle layer. This frees up the core back-end product processor systems from the weight of storing multiple products and allows the front-end to be adaptable. It actually enables banks to hyperpersonalize the customer experience and move along with technology updates without actually being disrupted.

Customers are not difficult to please if a trusted brand offers them a relevant and well-packaged range of core offerings. Offering anything less allows more innovative competitors to steal the day. This is the new frontline of banking.

 

Banking

NO SAFE HARBOUR FOR DIGITAL BANKING

by Konstantin Bodragin, Business Analyst and Digital Marketing Officer at Bruc Bond

 

At the beginning of 2020, the future of digital banking was pretty clear. Between Open Banking initiatives, regulatory frameworks like the PSD2, and growing customer demand for more advanced digital services, bank-watchers the world over felt confident in their predictions. The course was set for full digitisation, likely brought about by victorious challenger banks replacing stuffy and lumbering traditional banks. Then the winds changed and ongoing disasters shook the world’s seemingly endless confidence in fintech and the bright future it promised to the core.

COVID-19 dropped on us like a sudden thunderstorm on a birthday party. Sure, experts, analysts, prognosticators (and perhaps even meteorologists) all warned of an inevitable pandemic event. But the rest of us, including most leaders and financial giants, were taken almost entirely by surprise. A majority of us managed to get drenched, even though the forecast predicted stormy weathers. Now, leaders and investors are scrambling to reach high ground and keep whatever they can from being swept away in the torrential floods.

Konstantin Bodragin

In practice this means redirecting funds from aspirational projects towards more immediate goals, and shedding as much unnecessary weight as possible, in case the water rises higher. In the year of COVID, who gets what is not so much a question of wants, but of pure necessity. Unless you’re a government with bottomless pockets, superb credit rating, and a deep desire to stave off a Great Depression-style downturn by means of public works, chances are you too are cutting costs. Big Business is doing the same. Autonomous car projects will be put on hold (if they haven’t been frozen yet), status symbol product launches will be postponed until customers feel confident to spend their extra cash again, and ambitious digitisation projects will be slowed unless their worth can be demonstrated even for the current times.

As they say, when it rains it pours, and this year is particularly wet for fintech. Even if Hurricane Covid hadn’t battered the shores of the global economy quite to so hard, the void left by the sinking of the titanic WireCard would suck much of the industry down beneath the water with it. Just last month, WireCard served as the main provider of banking infrastructure for much of Europe’s Non-Bank Financial Institution industry. NBFIs, tautologically, are not banks. As a rule, until they grow large enough to acquire a bank or banking licence of their own, NBFIs rely on financial and banking facilities provided by another. This is by design, with frameworks like PSD2 regulating access and relationships between various institutions.

Such relationships, under the watchful eyes of local and international regulators, are meant to best serve the interests of customers and consumers. And for the most part they do. Failing or unscrupulous institutions get sidestepped and the system heals around them. Unless, of course, the problem actor is too large. WireCard is one such giant dud, and the sinking of this fintech suppliers will have repercussions that will be hard to mitigate.

WireCard served so many financial institutions that many millions of customers have been affected. Many of these institutions will not be able to survive, and one can only hope that end consumers will be protected from the fallout. On the business end, such hopes for salvation could be too optimistic. Many companies don’t have the resources to withstand several weeks or months of inactivity while they work to replace their financial infrastructure, especially not with extremely depleted budgets due to the ravages of COVID-19.

Those institutions that do survive will face a new reality of confused and likely higher costs, which will almost necessarily have to be passed on to consumers. The more savvy of WireCard’s survivors will try to shore up their defences against the recurrence of such a disaster by spreading the risk and their activity between several providers. This will hopefully lead to a normalisation of costs and a reduction in fees, but by then consumers could once again be too wary to take the risk with digital services whose fees could seemingly spike at any moment.

Loss of confidence won’t be limited to the consumer side, either. Regulators, wary of being made the fool again, are likely to treat fintech and the NBFI sector with much harsher gloves than it did so far. Increased scrutiny, stricter regulatory requirements, and a general lack of cooperation from regulators could sink any hopes of quick recovery for the battered industry. Not to mention the increased costs from such requirements, that are, again, liable to be passed down to the consumers.

Regulators and authorities are not the only power brokers digital banking suppliers will have to contend with. Partners in the banking industry were already eyeing fintechs with suspicion, not least thanks to the egregious claims of the latter to replace the former. Little wonder then, now that the seemingly unbeatable leviathan of WireCard has sunk to the bottom of the deep, that banks will loath to lend a helping hand to NBFIs struggling to find replacement providers.

So what will happen? In this climate, with demands for justice at their peak, some funds will surely be diverted from risky digitisation projects to PR-friendly investment in diversity. Behind the scenes, certain players will carry on their digitisation projects, but their approach is bound to change. The three Ss – slow, steady, stable – are likely to reign supreme, at least until Hurricane Covid passes, and the economic seas are calm once again.

 

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Banking

WHY OPEN BANKING SHOULD BE EVERY MARKETER’S BEST FRIEND

By Kathryn Wright, CSO, Upside

 

To date, Open Banking has been mainly utilised to help consumers with account switching and account aggregation. Being able to have a birds-eye-view of our spending always helps us realise how much money might be slowly ‘leaking out’ of our pockets. As useful as some of the applications have been so far, they are somewhat passive in nature and there is a bigger opportunity at play with Open Banking.

Personalisation has been the holy grail in sales and marketing for some time now, often twinned with omni-channel propositions. According to a study by Gartner in 2018, the brands who personalised discounts and calls-to-action outperform their competitors in revenue by at least 20%. The demand for a completely personalised customer experience has seen many SaaS offerings come to market, promising a complete understanding of your customer.

Many of these technologies are riddled with challenges though, such as customers flitting between devices, moving from mobile to tablet to laptop, and all at different IP locations – which is where omni-channel solutions are needed, but only work reliably when a customer is ‘logged in’. Cookie tracking, or the lack of it, also impacts what is shown to a customer. There’s nothing worse for a customer than clicking through an email and landing on a website just to see a large pop-over asking them to sign up to emails and offers. That’s clear evidence and an example of personalisation not working!

Another bad example in basic segmentation is generalisation. Businesses often take a few pieces of demographic data and then make wildly inaccurate assumptions about the customer. No retailer or marketer needs more data. They need actionable data with insights which can drive action and engagement.

And this is when Open Banking comes into play. By pairing past spending data through Open Banking, marketing teams can better understand their customer base, and brands can personalise which products and offers are shown and when. The end-result is an all-round better experience for the customer, which in turn means an increase in their brand loyalty.

 

Single Source Of Truth

Businesses currently struggle to know who really is a new customer. It’s kind of tricky when all of the largest discounts are designed to get a new customer on board and marketing teams are heavily focused on new customer acquisition and the cost per new customer.

So who is a new customer? Someone with a new email address that you haven’t seen before? But what about a different delivery address or using PayPal one time and then a card the next time. One customer can potentially register as a ‘new customer’ up to around seven times. Additionally, if I leave my broadband provider this year and come back after a year, am I a repeat or new customer? Brian Dunne from Gift Card Consulting, advisor and investor to Upside puts it well: “There is no such thing as new customers, they’ve all seen you at some point. You are just not getting all their spend most of the time.”

False customer categorisation affects all other business metrics. CAC, CLTV, Repeat purchase rate, customer churn – and these are not trivial metrics, these are metrics upon which huge budgets are committed to or culled. The answer to these questions and challenges in customer personalisation lies in Open Banking. The single source of truth where money can only come out once. Of course, there are credit cards and multiple bank accounts, but the idea is for the customer to have all of these linked.

A new world of data analysis opens up when Open Banking is applied. Retailers can see the frequency of spend, location and average order value. Most brands have this information, but only for themselves. Outside of their walled-garden, it’s more of a mystery. Open Banking allows businesses to benchmark all of these metrics against the rest of their industry, showing what percentage of wallet share they have, which is more meaningful as a metric than an incorrect measure of new customer sign-ups.

For Open Banking to fully show its potential, the conversation with customers needs to change. Brands need to reward repeat purchases and loyalty, instead of offering all of the best discounts to ‘new customers’. Leveraging new fintechs and Open Banking, retailers will be able to know for sure who is a new customer, which will allow them to attract new, win back old and delight their most loyal customers more accurately.

 

Open Banking – Fiction or the Future of Retail? 

Pairing machine learning with Open Banking brings personalisation to a whole new level above simple segmentation and improves the customer experience. Machine learning and AI, combined with Open Banking, are ways to create insights from the masses of data that businesses have. As an example, over time, businesses will be able to recognise when a particular customer looks like they are going to lapse into no longer shopping there, or shop less regularly, and suggest to the brand that at this stage, they offer a special cashback rate. Rather than a ‘spray and pray’ attitude to marketing it means brands can give customers what they need at the right time and ensure their communications are relevant.

Does this sound like a dream? It is not – the technology is ready. Open banking and machine learning can change the way marketing and sales work for any industry. Estimates sit around 95% for the prediction of future revenue which will come from as little as 5% of a brand’s existing customer base. A study by the Center for Generational Kinetics reveals 80% of consumers would visit a store they hadn’t visited before if given a direct cashback. Given statistics like these, retention through delighting and rewarding existing customers, as well as new user acquisition, is imperative.

It’s only the mindset which often holds businesses back. Those retailers, businesses and Open Banking providers who grasp this opportunity and move away from the old discounting culture will rise in the post-Covid-19 world.

 

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