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AN OMNICHANNEL APPROACH TO BANKING THE UNBANKED

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AN OMNICHANNEL APPROACH TO BANKING THE UNBANKED

More than a quarter of the global population still does not have access to banking facilities. That’s 1.75 billion people without a simple bank account through which to make and receive payments.[1]

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is just a problem for emerging and third world economies. Yet the UK has anything between 770,000 and 3 million unbanked citizens depending on which estimates you believe. In a developed country where there are more mobile phones than people this is astonishing, not to mention the negative draw on the economy.[2]

This excludes people from simple financial services we all take for granted such as much needed short-term credit, or a way to receive wages or benefits. This is despite basic accounts being available to most people, even those with a poor credit history. Clearly, action is required.

To help reduce the number of unbanked and to support Government plans to increase access to financial services, banks can play a crucial role. The key is to make financial services as accessible as possible – even for “hard-to-reach” individuals.

The growth of mobile

Over the last couple of years, banks have recognised the unlocked potential in building their online and mobile presence. While 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to financial services at all, even digital banking, a staggering 1.7 billion of those has access to a mobile phone.

These devices are creating new opportunities for banks to interact with the previously ‘unbanked’ population through digital payment services. According to recent research the number of active mobile money users increased by an astounding 41 per cent to over 100 million worldwide between 2013 and 2014 alone. With over 255 different mobile money services already available globally, the number of users is only expected to rise.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, distance to financial institution is a major barrier to account ownership. The challenge is providing a solution that meets the needs of the unbanked to make using an account as easy, convenient and affordable as possible. With mobile phones a leading communication device in the region, due to the lack of physical telecoms infrastructure, digital payment services can provide an important first entry point for the unbanked community. In recent years, the service has grown in popularity among mobile users in the Sub-Saharan region, with almost a third of account holders owning a mobile money account, and 58 per cent of mobile users interested in using mobile banking and mobile wallets in the future.[3]

As the mobile market continues to grow, there are numerous opportunities for expanding financial service outreach. Banks and network providers are working ever more closely to enable people at all levels of society to access and explore the financial services system.

Combining solutions

Richard Broadbent - Wincor Nixdorf

Richard Broadbent – Wincor Nixdorf

Today, one of the major challenges mobile money solution providers face is providing an efficient and convenient way to load and unload the customer’s mobile wallet with cash. To resolve this, banks and network operators must combine solutions to bridge the gap between the newly developing mobile money ecosystems and the world of cash. Whilst in developing markets this is achieved through mobile money agents, upgrading current ATMs with mobile money functions and implementing ATM-based money, payment and self-service transactions on mobile devices will provide customers with a greatly enhanced service.

For example, smartphones can now be used as an interface to ATM services, meaning customers can stage a withdrawal, deposit and receive cash around the clock through a secure code sent to their device. The preauthorised transaction is meanwhile stored in a transaction safe, waiting to be released upon entering the secure code at the ATM service.

Customer experience and service adoption is all about ease of use of any given service. Valued service solutions, such as the mobile wallet, focus on making the whole transaction process simpler, faster and more convenient to meet the ever-demanding needs of the digital consumer. In the long term, this means banks will be capable of generating greater loyalty with existing customers, as well as building new relationships with the ‘unbanked’ society.

Attracting the unbanked community

Inevitably, customer experience will more than ever be the decisive factor for the success of a bank. Developing segment specific solutions will enable banks to profitably tap into the unbanked community.

One could argue ‘a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’ With end consumers no longer loyal to an individual channel or service provider, particularly among the unbanked, banks will only appeal to new customers if they can ensure a seamless service across all channels to meet all individual requirements. This should incorporate mobile and tablet to ATM and in-branch services. By establishing a truly omnichannel service, banks will be better positioned to make the financial system accessible to people all over the world.

[1]Wincor Nixdorf report

[2]Computer Weekly article

[3]Ericsson mobility report 2014

Banking

Over 60’s turning to digital banking up by 90% during pandemic

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Over 60’s turning to digital banking up by 90% during pandemic 1

More than 90% of people aged over 60 have used online banking for the first time during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a poll by iResearch Services, highlighting the importance of banks getting digital right in 2021.

In comparison, 17% of people aged under 30 said they were accessing services via an app or web browser for the first time.

The findings show how banks must adapt to help service the influx of new digital users and gain their trust, accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic. With 97% of 18–24-year-olds trusting their bank with their data, compared to only 33% of people aged over 66.

Commenting on the findings, Gurpreet Purewal, Associate Vice President, Thought Leadership, at iResearch, said: “Our study demonstrates the lasting impact of Coronavirus on how people will access banking services from now on. Banks will be required to refocus on really understanding customer needs in order to engage with the different requirements of each individual customer.

“More than half (54%) of respondents said they are less likely to attend a physical branch after the pandemic. This demonstrates a seismic shift in the way people will access banking services now and into the future.”

In other findings, 63% of respondents said their bank acted in their best interests during the pandemic, but a third said they would consider switching their bank for better, more personalised communication.

Purewal added: “On the whole, High Street banks have emerged with great credit from the pandemic for the way they have supported their customers. As the economy rebuilds, it will be more important than ever that they communicate in the right way to help consumers through 2021 by leveraging digital platforms and understanding their needs fully.”

Asked how banks can improve their communication with customers, ‘connecting on a personal level’ ranked highest, followed by ‘more honest and open dialogue’, a ‘demonstration of how they are helping customers’, ‘more creative campaigns’, ‘consistent messaging across channels’ and finally ‘responsiveness to major events’.

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Banking

Banking on the cloud to create a crucial advantage in financial services

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Banking on the cloud to create a crucial advantage in financial services 2

By Rahul Singh, President of Financial Services, HCL Technologies

Once considered a revolutionary technology, cloud is now at the heart of agile and innovative businesses. The financial services industry is no exception, and has been a major adopter of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for its non-core applications. Functions such as customer management, human capital management, and financial accounting have progressively shifted to the cloud. Several banks have also warmed up to using cloud for services such as Know your Customer (KYC) verification. IDC analysts say that public cloud spending will grow from $229 billion in 2019 to almost $500 billion by 2023, and a third of this will be spent across three industries: professional services, discrete manufacturing, and banking. The time is ripe for an increasing number of financial services providers to consider moving more of their core services to cloud.

Adoption is already on the rise

Earlier reluctance to move core activities to the cloud has softened, and many banks have put strategies in place to migrate services, including consumer payments, credit scoring, wealth management, and risk analysis. This significant change is driven by factors such as PSD2 and open banking, which require secure and cost-effective data sharing.

Regulators too were once cautious in their approach to cloud technology, but this is also changing. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), for example, whilst acknowledging the risks associated with cloud, also recognised the risk of sticking to the status quo. ARPA trusted the enhanced security offered by the cloud, and updated its cloud-associated risk advice. Wisely, APRA recommended that banks must develop contingency plans that allow cloud services to be provided through alternate means if required.

Rising pressure from new challengers

The other pressure for incumbent banks is from next generation fintech firms. These are cloud-native organisations, and are able to onboard customers remotely in minutes, roll out new services in days, and meet compliance requirements at lower costs.

As a result, the need for traditional banks to upgrade core systems and integrate the latest technologies is stronger than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an additional driver, highlighting the importance of upgrading and migrating core systems to the cloud. Financial services organisations have been forced to rethink their approach to digital transformation, and pay special attention to a cloud-aligned culture. The industry is recognising how the cloud can address new and ongoing regulatory changes, meet different demands from customers, support the roll-out of emerging technologies, and enable incumbent providers to respond to the relentless competition from fintech firms.

New year, new priorities

As we enter 2021, financial services providers will need to reset their priorities, and go beyond using the cloud for scalability and cost efficiency alone. The new areas to focus on will include:

  • Creating a robust digital foundation: The cloud market is expanding fast, and there is an ever-increasing number of services on offer. Whilst the big three hyper-scalers are the obvious choice, various other players are also gaining traction, such as IBM, Oracle, and Alibaba Cloud. Organisations will need a robust digital foundation to adopt cloud at scale in a secure and compliant way. A well-architected digital foundation, supported by resilient operations, ensures that organisations have continued access to their systems and data, regardless of where employees are located, or what device they are using.
  • Adoption of technology platforms: Enterprises are finding ways to reduce complexity by embracing a platform approach, and increasing the speed of business IT consumption. Physical infrastructure is being abstracted into cloud-based platforms, with data consolidated into data lake platforms. Software products like Apigee are being offered as capability platforms to drive better analytics and intelligence.
  • Enhancing IT security: Cloud offers organisations greater security than on-premises servers, if implemented correctly. Financial services organisations have relied on control and compliance-based security for years, but these practices are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. Whilst service integrators create robust cybersecurity solutions for financial services organisations, cloud providers are also looking to provision industry-specific security and regulatory measures like end-to-end data encryption – making it easier for financial services organisations to be compliant whilst migrating to cloud.
  • Driving innovation: Cloud is the fundamental factor behind the ability of fintechs to innovate rapidly. Using cloud, financial services can leverage new technologies and tools like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to unlock new processes that improve customer interaction and experience with portable real-time services. Whilst fintechs have led the way in cloud-based innovation through open banking platforms, some of the leading banks are also adopting cloud to simplify their business processes, including KYC as a Service, to enhance customer experience.
  • Enterprise synchronisation: Effective collaboration, both internally and with external partners, is crucial to success in the ever-expanding financial services ecosystem. Cloud allows businesses to integrate collaboration through shared tools and platforms. This is a critical ability as it leads to faster decisions and improved innovation cycles.

Legacy systems hold banks back from improving revenue generation and restrict their ability to build a responsive and resilient business. Cloud is a key factor in the success of challengers: traditional banks have no time to waste in migrating their core systems to cloud and building a secure future.

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Banking

State of the Industry: optimism high in global financial services, although some key issues cause concern

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State of the Industry: optimism high in global financial services, although some key issues cause concern 3
  1. Exclusive research from Barclays Corporate Banking reveals the views of financial services leaders from across the globe on a range of key issues
  2. Recovery from Covid-19 is a key priority for FinTechs over the year ahead, however their number one aim shows the optimism in the sector: focussing on business growth
  3. Asia-Pacific may be the new focal point for expectations around Open Banking, with interest from Europe dropping year-on-year
  4. Firms confidence in their own cybersecurity fell 5% versus 2019, with less than half of respondents (42%) feeling satisfied with their own approach to the issue

Key players in the financial services industry are optimistic about the year ahead, according to a new ‘State of the Industry’ report from Barclays Corporate Banking, Alive to Opportunity.

Exclusive research from the bank also highlights regional differences in approaches to regulation, expectations for payment innovation and confidence in cybersecurity.

Optimism for 2021

As the official insights partner of last year’s Money 20/20 global conference series, Barclays conducted a survey of over 200 financial services leaders from across EMEA, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. From these senior executives, Barclays Corporate Banking found that optimism in the sector is high as it enters into 2021.

Whilst recovery from Covid-19 might be seen as a likely top priority for the coming year, it came in second place when respondents were asked what they would be focussing most on during 2021 – with 42% of leaders selecting it. Top spot instead went to ensuring business growth, with nearly three in five (57%) respondents picking it as their main area of concentration.

Commenting on this trend, Phil Bowkley, Global Head of Financial Institutions Group, Barclays Corporate Banking, said:

“Given that 2020 was such a tumultuous year, it is encouraging to hear FinTech businesses are confident and focused on future growth. Many firms have grasped the upheaval of the global pandemic as an opportunity. Covid-19 has driven a huge surge in ecommerce and cross-border business. This has significantly increased flows across FinTech payment providers, which have worked hard to enable cross-border trade, payments and ecommerce. At the same time, the industry has been collaborating with banks to ensure much-needed financial support from government flows to the real economy.”

Regions back themselves on innovation

In a continuation of a trend seen in 2019, respondents often rated their own region as the most likely source of future innovation. This ‘home’ bias was particularly strong in Asia-Pacific, where China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia together claimed over 83% of regional votes when considering the key sources of innovation over the next five years.

However, China’s reign as the most likely site of financial services innovation did not continue from 2019, with Barclays’ most recent survey showing that nearly one in four (24%) key industry leaders now view the United States as the most probable location for the rise of payment innovation over the next five years.

A shift eastwards for Open Banking?

Barclays’ research also suggests that Asia-Pacific may be the new focal point for expectations around Open Banking, with interest from Europe dropping year-on-year.

In 2019’s report, the impact of this key regulation was anticipated to be strongest in Europe – however, this time round just 38% of EMEA leaders now expect Open Banking to have a big impact on their business. By contrast, the majority (59%) of senior respondents from Asia-Pacific feel that the regulation will be key for their companies as we move into the remainder of 2021.

Security and resilience in a post-Covid world…

Firms’ confidence in their own cybersecurity dropped by 5% versus 2019, with less than half of respondents (42%) feeling satisfied with their business’ approach to the issue. Businesses in EMEA feel least confident about their security provisions, with one in three (33%) indicating that their own cyber security needs further investment.

The importance of resilience to customers was also a theme that many felt would rise in significance in 2020, given the recent growth in remote working as a response to Covid-19 – however just 5% of respondents viewed this issue as important when considering customer loyalty.

Steve Lappin, Managing Director, Barclaycard Business, said: “From remote working to e-commerce, coronavirus has meant that digital channels play a much greater role in working life. While this has undoubtedly presented new opportunities, it has also put additional pressure on infrastructure and heightened potential vulnerability to attacks. Therefore, it’s not surprising that confidence in cybersecurity has dropped, with many firms feeling that their rapid adoption of these new channels has left governance and control lagging behind. It’s critical that businesses remain vigilant – security may not be a key driver of customer loyalty, but cybersecurity issues are definitely a driver of disloyalty.”

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