Although the pandemic has accelerated the need to digitize services, the relationship between digital transformation and the banking sector, in recent years, has been positive. Let's think in terms of customer experience and customer service. Additionally, new technologies have directed banking towards a more sustainable model.
Shortly after the economic crisis of 2008/2009, the banking sector was forced to respond to new regulatory requirements and new vectors of competition. Subsequently, it also had to invest heavily in risk management solutions and front-office customer service.
The most urgent was:
Thus, a response was given to fulfilling immediate priorities linked to compliance and the customer experience. Later, time made evident the need to allocate investments to gain competitiveness.
The era of digital transformation (DX) was inaugurated. Here we share some data that illustrates it:
The digital transformation derives, first of all, from the very evolution of bank customers. In variable percentages, but already clearly around 50%, they have decidedly incorporated into the digital world and carry out most banking transactions through non-face-to-face channels. These percentages are increasing, and if we compare ourselves with what is happening in other markets, such as the Scandinavian countries, it is easy to assume that we will be in quotas close to 80% in a short time. This requires banks to be prepared to meet these new demand channels efficiently and to be able to market all or most of their products and services through them.
They must do it efficiently so that, when designing their new processes, they can provide their customers with a pleasant experience comparable to that offered by other service providers, competitors, or not of traditional banks. Unlike not so long ago, banks are no longer the only channel through which many customers receive financial services. Many non-financial service providers are educating customers about what constitutes an efficient way of working. Indeed, every day, the Big Techs, basically North American and Asian, and the fintech interact with bank customers, showing them new ways of doing things.
Of course, as we pointed out, the pandemic exposed specific weaknesses in the banking sector, thus accelerating a process that had already begun. Let's see 3 of the weaknesses that banks had to face with the confinements and the prolongation of covid-19:
Insufficient capacity of digital channels: The exponential increase in queries through digital channels revealed the system's precariousness. The quality of service and the experiences provided had to be maintained, and the offer increased.
This put banks to the test regarding their ability to optimize call center functionality, technology, security, and workforce. Many had to implement new technologies such as chatbots, video call platforms, turnkeys, and virtual queues.
At the start of the pandemic, banks were willing to grant loans to businesses, as well as help their clients with amnesty programs aimed at deferring loan payments and credit card balances. As the crisis intensified, many of their credit portfolios have become impossible to recover.
Then, the challenges imposed by the pandemic forced the banks to take action on the matter and immediately. In particular, changes in terms of digital transformation as we move into the new normal.
In this regard, it is possible to identify five stages related to the way of thinking about the impact of the crisis, the recovery of the banking sector, and the strategic planning of the future of investments after the crisis:
Business continuity: Entities are affected by new customer behaviors and habits. Among them we can mention:
In addition, they saw the need to incorporate virtual environments to develop many daily tasks. Among the most significant changes that have occurred, we highlight the following:
Focus on ROI: The investment strategies are oriented towards digital transformation initiatives, which provide solutions to some of the problems raised:
Operational resilience: In this phase, the bank's ability to withstand future disruptions is evidenced. In addition, technology spending is calculated for the next five years.
Acceleration: Investments in long-term transformation technologies are accelerated. This is to be able to resist future harmful disruptions.
Innovation: The banking sector, in this phase, once again puts the focus on customer experience, efficiency, and innovation. In this instance, resilience and agility are key factors in innovation.
The importance of continuing to enrich the functionalities of digital banking channels responds to customers' interests: their expectations and habits have changed. In this regard, they revolve more and more around the mobile. BBVA, for example, has experienced a 17.5% growth in its digital clients in South America and an increase in mobile users of 30.4%.
Now, what are the responsible changes that banks are aiming for?
Enabling modern interfaces via API The banking sector had already started before 2020 with the migration of workloads to more open environments. To do this, it uses open APIs, microservices, containers, and agile methods for development.
In 2019, 60% of banks were already using microservices architectures throughout the company to develop custom applications that allow managing cloud environments.
The objective of this modernization has been to achieve an open banking operation model: open architectures allow accelerating the development and implementation of new products and services
The digitization of the customer generates key impacts; among the advantages that technology brings to the financial industry, we find:
Increases the contact surface with the customer: The cause? Digital customers take advantage of the use of mobile phones to operate with the bank from any time and place.
It leads to a more logical banking model: it allows you to free yourself from routine tasks that have traditionally generated waiting and queues at branches. Instead, staff can spend quality time, for example, advising clients on financial products and services.
Fast and less expensive transfers: using digital currencies facilitates payments in time and cost. At the same time, the creation of online payment companies also does business between people and institutions from countries with different currencies faster and more straightforward, assimilating values and simplifying procedures reliably.
Power eCommerce: digital payments and the increase in the security of transfers facilitate online sales, which, in turn, opens the market to industries that previously could only refer to local commerce. Thus, international consultancies are accessible to companies of various sizes, and import and export payments can be immediate, facilitating business.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that consumer demands have driven digital transformation in business models. In the particular case of the banking industry, changes have accelerated because social distancing means customers manage their requirements and carry out their transactions through digital devices.
Users currently require, in addition to personalized attention, 24/7 real-time services, omnichannel, virtual accounts, an integrated view of their finances, online lines of credit, coverage, and currency conversion in real-time. They seek immediacy, effectiveness, transparency, security, saving time, and a satisfactory experience when carrying out their operations.
Anticipating these needs is the key for banks to obtain competitive advantages, not only within the banking industry but also against Fintech companies that are gaining more ground in the financial market every day, since now they even offer loans between peers (P2P) and collective financing (crowdfunding), which are being very attractive, especially in the SME sector, for all the facilities they offer, unlike the slow and complicated procedures that persist in traditional banking.
Therefore, the survival of the banking industry depends on the pace with which its digital transformation will advance in 2022. The future is an open bank with a collaborative attitude that knows how to establish strategic alliances with Fintech to add value to the business. Only by integrating with innovative applications will agile ecosystems be obtained to create better services that connect customers with the various products on the market.
Likewise, it is a fundamental matter to leave legacy systems behind and migrate towards innovative structures that contain agile and flexible administrative processes, with robust technological systems for handling the large volumes of data generated daily. In addition, it seeks to manage risk and prevent fraud by offering services and products that provide trust and security for users.
In this sense, banking entities must spare no resources and invest in information technologies and innovation. The current needs point towards the automation of internal processes, the optimization of chatbots using artificial intelligence, having cloud services, and being at the forefront of cybersecurity, since all these technologies impact current business models and allow us to look into the future with certainty.
And the most important! We must remember that today customer service must be the center of any digital transformation initiative; therefore, as we advance with technological changes, we must also modify the culture of the entity. Achieving customer retention and loyalty involves understanding and meeting their needs and expectations. Hence, having strategic allies that accelerate the digital transformation of banking in 2022 means implementing the changes more quickly, safely, and with lower costs.
The rise of FinTech has brought about a significant change in the banking and financial industry, with disruptive technologies challenging traditional systems. The sector is also facing competition from new online players, evolving regulations, and shifting transparency and privacy standards. To thrive in this rapidly changing environment, both established and new players must adapt, innovate, and expand. Rejolut can assist in this transformation by adopting a product-focused mindset, understanding customer needs, and using technology in a flexible and iterative way. Our unique approach eliminates the inefficiencies of traditional IT staffing methods, while providing the structure for innovation and staying competitive in target markets.
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