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Choosing a Mobile Banking Solution from a Technology Vendor in 2018

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Choosing a Mobile Banking Solution from a Technology Vendor in 2018

With more mobile phones on the planet today than there are people, mobile banking has become a hot topic. Many banks and financial institutions began by seeing it as a possibility to cut costs by enabling customer self-service. For others, it was initially ‘me-too’ functionality, to avoid being overtaken by rivals. However, banks now also see how important mobile banking can be to the overall customer experience, and therefore to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

New players like FinTech companies are also adding to the competition that traditional financial institutions must face. Mobile banking can help them to fight back. In its latest (2017) Global Mobile Banking Benchmark report, Forrester Research stated the need for digital banking strategy executives to ‘deliver useful and usable mobile banking services that not only exceed customers’ current expectations but also anticipate their future needs and improve their financial well-being’. While digital marketing teams will have a crucial role to play in making this happen, the mobile banking technology will also be a key factor.

Banks have an initial choice to make about their mobile banking technology – in-house or outsourced. They can also use vendor platforms and components as building blocks, which they then customize with their own specific features and brand. Larger organizations may do more by themselves. Smaller organizations with fewer resources may look more towards white-label solutions. Some vendors offer one part of the solution (mobile app design or back-end system, for example). Others offer a complete mobile solution, front-end and back-end, for integration with a bank’s other financial systems.

What Do Customers Want from Mobile Banking?

Any mobile banking solution must start with customers’ needs, wants, and expectations. Mobile banking apps that do not satisfy customers will likely be abandoned and deleted. Back-end systems will sit idle, a loss of time and money for the bank concerned.

Customer needs and wants will vary. Millennials in Asia may want cool functionality and a designer app interface that aligns with their native digital lifestyle. Rural communities in America or Africa may be more interested in quick and efficient account services that save them the time and effort of driving to their nearest bank, perhaps many miles away. For the unbanked, mobile banking may be the only feasible way of offering them the advantages of secure banking services.

For an excellent and enduring customer experience, a mobile banking solution should also be flexible. Customer tastes and requirements can change rapidly, and the solution must be able to adapt. Nonetheless, some features are more frequently offered or requested than others. A 2017 survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston of 505 banks in the US and the mobile banking functionality currently offered showed the following percentages of banks providing each type of functionality:

  • Check balances (DDA, Savings) 92%
  • View statements and/or transaction history (DDA, Savings) 89%
  • View credit card balances, statements and/or transaction history 12%
  • Bill payment 86%
  • Bill presentment 30%
  • Transfer funds between same owner’s accounts within owner’s bank 91%
  • Transfer funds between same owner’s accounts at different banks 35%
  • Mobile person-to-person payment (P2P) 44%
  • Mobile remote deposit capture (RDC) 72%
  • ATM/branch locator 81%
  • Personal financial management (PFM) 12%
  • Access to brokerage services 2%
  • Cross-border payments 1%

The same survey included statistics for 177 credit unions. The percentages were very similar, apart from the item ‘View credit card balances, statements and/or transaction history’, offered by 53% of the credit unions, compared to just 12% of banks.

Banks and other financial institutions should analyze their own existing and targeted customer populations to understand how best to serve them with mobile banking functionality and interfaces. A mobile banking solution vendor may also be able to contribute insights and experience to help the bank optimize its mobile banking decisions.

Design of a Banking App for Mobile Devices

The user interfaces in mobile banking apps should as be user-friendly and intuitive as the mobile phone technology allows. Banking apps can take inspiration from mobile app best-sellers in other domains, whether for social media, news, games or other uses. A minimum number of taps or swipes to reach a desired function or information must always be the goal. Many non-banking apps manage to do this within one or two taps from a clear, uncluttered, attractive interface. This is a standard of usability that mobile banking apps should achieve too.

Inside the app, the priorities are performance, robustness, and rapidity of development and release. Suitable development frameworks offer significant help in meeting these objectives. They also make the app software architecture modular and intuitive, allowing for a maximum of code reuse. This, in turn, speeds up a time to market and reduces costs.

How Should the Back-End Systems be Implemented?

Flexibility in mobile banking back-end systems is also important. As front-end functionality changes to meet new customer needs, the back-end systems must keep pace. They must also be scalable to handle increasing numbers of connections and transactions, as the popularity of the mobile app rises. Outages and long waiting times must be avoided. Customers expect ‘always-on’ availability for online services, and minimum or zero wait times for their requests to be handled.

A microservices architecture is often well-adapted to this requirement. Self-contained functions or functional components, each running as a microservice, communicate with others to serve the front-end. New features can be implemented in one or just a few of the microservice modules, for faster, more reliable releases. A well-designed back-end architecture will also allow a bank to run the software on web servers and databases of its choice. This will give even smoother integration into existing IT infrastructure.

As added advantages, microservice-architecture solutions can be faster to install, integrate, and launch. When front-end and back-end components are available as an integrated solution, updates and extensions to the microservices can be better synchronized with releases to customers of new mobile banking apps.

Security and Compliance

Security is a critical consideration. It must be built into a mobile banking solution from the outset. However, while giving maximum protection, it must not unduly limit functionality, performance, or usability. 2-factor authentication is a suitable level of security for customer actions such as registration, authorization, and confirmation of transactions. 2-factor identification should then also be available for all interactions and events in the application. Back-end systems must be hardened before the operation, removing vulnerabilities and tightening platform security beyond default configurations of IT database operating system, server, and storage unit vendors.

Compliance with regulations is essential. New or recently introduced laws and directives affecting mobile banking include GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation for the European Union) and the EU-wide second payment services directive (PSD2).

Market Overview of Mobile Banking Solutions

We consider examples of mobile banking software and solutions available for licensing and use by banks, credit unions, and similar financial establishments. For this reason, we leave out of our list any solutions specifically designed for just one bank or financial institution.

  • Digital Insight. Mobile banking is one of the applications offered by NCR’s Digital Insight. Others include retail Internet banking, electronic bill payment and presentment, personal financial management, funds transfer, and financial institution website development and hosting. NCR announced in 2017 that its Digital Insight software powered mobile banking for ‘nearly half of United States’ top-performing financial institutions. Digital Insight offers Android and iOS mobile banking apps, with biometric access.
  • FIS™ (Fidelity Information Services). Mobile banking is part of the FIS payment processing and banking software solutions for retail and investment banking. The FIS customer base includes Bank of America, Key Bank, PNC Bank, People’s United Bank and BMO Harris. Features include mobile commerce, business mobile banking, P2P/on-demand payments, and financial calculators for customers, with analytics for financial institutions.
  • Malauzai. Mobile and online banking solutions for community banks and credit unions. Solutions utilize the SAMI (SmartApp Management Infrastructure) platform for real-time updates and REBA (Real-time End-user Behaviour Analytics) for customer insight and decision making. Other products include SmartwebApps, SmartwearApps, and MOX™ mobile business wallet. Customer references include Bank of Hope, Capital Bank, and First Financial Bank.
  • Metryus. Provides mobile front-end and back-end banking technologies for a full mobile banking solution. Metryus uses the React Native framework for its CAVU mobile app development for both iOS and Android operating systems. Security includes 2-factor authentication and biometric access control. The server component uses a microservices architecture. Clients range from FinTech start-ups to large banks, like the International Bank of Azerbaijan.
  • Q2. Solutions include mobile banking, web development, security assessments, and marketing for banks. Customer references include A+ Federal Credit Union, Broadway Bank, Inwood National Bank, and First Financial Bank. Features of Q2 mobile banking for customers include a consistent design and user experience regardless of device, fingerprint login for Android and iOS, user-customizable alerts, and contextual personal finance management (PFM) for improved customer engagement.
  • SAB. Makes mobile banking services available via mobile phones and SMS messaging, including withdrawals from authorized outlets if there are no ATMs close by. SAB shareholders include IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. SAB’s mission is to improve financial system infrastructures in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. References include Banque Palatine, Banque de l’Industrie et du Travail (Lebanon), and Compagnie Monégasque de Banque (Monaco).

Mobile Banking in the Future

The general principles of good mobile banking solutions will continue. Efficiency (making a task easier), effectiveness (saving time or money), and contextuality (using personalized insight) will all be priorities. Financial institutions are already turning to mobile apps with unique abilities to enhance customer experience and improve banking revenues. Ease of use and digital value will continue to rise. To meet expectations, outsourcing mobile banking technology requirements to a suitable third-party technology provider will continue to be the right solution for many banks and financial institutions.

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement

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86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement 1

A shortage of digitally savvy talent, and a lack of training for technical and soft skills, hinder digital procurement initiative

Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions, has shown that a majority of UK businesses (86%) face significant barriers developing digital skills in procurement. The findings reveal that a shortage of digitally savvy talent (31%), a lack of training for technical and soft skills (28%) and a lack of understanding of the skills required (13%), are some of the main barriers preventing UK business from developing the digital skills they need. Additionally, over half (55%) of UK businesses say that digital skills in procurement are less advanced compared to other departments

The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about the true nature of digital skills within procurement, and the challenges businesses looking to digitally transform will face. More than eight-in-ten (84%) UK businesses believe that the skill set required of procurement professionals has shifted from procurement-first to digital-first. The study also highlighted that most respondents believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) in procurement would have enabled UK businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively.

“Over the last decade, the role of procurement has transformed from one of cost-cutter to a vital ally that can help inform and enable a business’s strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend even further, reinforcing the importance of procurement as businesses adapt to the new normal,” commented Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, for too long, procurement has been seen as a digital laggard, with technology adoption trailing behind other departments. In order to keep its seat at the table in strategic discussions, procurement must ensure it has people with the right skills in-house, as well as easy to use technologies, or risk being unable to offer significant strategic value.”

Challenges in hiring digital skills in procurement

As part of ongoing digital transformation efforts in procurement, the report found that UK businesses have started to introduce new technologies such as data analytics (55%), cloud-based platforms (53%), automation (35%) and AI/machine learning (30%) in the last 12 months.

But when it comes to deploying these technologies, UK businesses are finding it difficult to complement them with the digital skills required. The study found that 88% find it challenging to hire the right digital skills to work with technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms or data analytics, while 76% say they are concerned that existing procurement teams will struggle to work with new technologies. Developing digital skills is vital for businesses, as 91% of respondents say that improving digital skills can make procurement more strategic, while 94% say it will help them gain a competitive advantage.

“In a rapidly evolving business environment, digital skills are essential for procurement teams to analyse and mitigate risk, identify new opportunities and collaborate with suppliers. However, procurement teams are struggling to both attract digital talent and upskill existing teams, which puts them at risk of falling behind competitors, losing market share, and struggling to identify risk and opportunities ahead of time,” comments Saric.

“To address the digital skills gap in procurement, UK businesses need to ensure they are focusing on adopting tools that are easy to use and improve access to actionable insights. By making procurement smarter, businesses are giving teams the tools and skills needed to thrive in the new normal, allowing the business to react and proactively address the shifting sands of a post-COVID world.”

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The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal

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The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal 2

By Jeremy Nicholds CEO, Judopay

As society adapts to the rapidly changing “new normal” of working and socialising, many businesses are working tirelessly to ensure that they have all the necessary safety precautions in place to keep trading. One such sector is hospitality, but the way it typically operates now looks very different to what we were used to seeing prior to the pandemic.

Many pubs, restaurants and other hospitality establishments have now been open for a few months since lockdown, providing much relief and enjoyment to many consumers, as well as getting many employees back into work. However, a core component for businesses to maintain trading in these times is to ensure the crucial safety of staff and customers.

Payments are playing an important role in this and we’re seeing payment technology being implemented in new and unique ways to help make the hospitality sector as safe as possible. One such technology is app-based commerce, which allows businesses to interact with customers in ways that minimises physical contact whilst crucially still enabling engagement.

With table service now mandatory and Test and Trace measures continuing, we’re likely to see this technology being increasingly adopted in the months and years ahead. So, let’s take a look at what its use means for the hospitality industry and beyond and how it lines up with the government’s latest advice for businesses within the sector.

Understanding government guidance

Guidance issued from the UK government expands upon advice already offered by the Prime Minister to the hospitality sector, at the point of reopening back in July. It has been stated that all indoor hospitality is limited to table-service, interaction between staff and customers should be minimised as much as possible, masks are being enforced for indoor hospitality staff and the rule around groups of 6 continues.

At the same time, businesses now have a clear duty to support NHS Test and Trace by collecting names and contact details from customers so they can be reached if a customer/worker tests positive. This is a recent mandatory move having previously been guidance.

What’s more, it’s recognised that payments are a practical tool to help companies adhere to these guidelines. Throughout the pandemic it has emphasised that contactless payments are useful for reducing human interaction and touch points – such as PIN pads.

Early on, we saw the payment industry increase the authentication limit for contactless spending limit from £30 to £45 to help reduce cash purchases, cash machines and PIN pad usage. The Government are strongly encouraging the use of contactless payments in the hospitality sector, however, there’s a big part of the solution that they may have overlooked that can help hospitality businesses meet these guidelines with even greater ease – app-based commerce.

Why use apps?

Jeremy Nicholds

Jeremy Nicholds

Apps provide a whole host of benefits and are the perfect tool for not only minimising contact, but also ensuring customers are contactable at a later date, if needs be.

While contactless payments eliminate the need for customers to pay using cash, or touch PIN pads, apps can remove physical human interaction at the point of sale altogether. This is because they enable customers to pay ahead or at the table, meaning they don’t need to leave their seats or regularly interact with staff.  And done well they can even be a boost for business, enabling more convenient transactions and higher levels of repeat purchase.

When it comes to ensuring that customers are contactable, apps and e-wallets have a real advantage over traditional card-based transactions and anonymous cash payments. They allow companies to retain details about who has attended an establishment at a given time, enabling them to know whether a customer was present while a person known to be carrying the virus was in the vicinity.  The communication advantages of apps also allow establishments to manage their footfall and customer flow.

The role of app-based commerce in the new normal

Apps will become more and more important for all types of businesses, as consumers shift their behaviour towards digital.  They represent a new ‘real estate’ for retail and other businesses to manage – to present their brand in the right way, to engage customers and drive transactions.

Recently, we’ve seen Apple support this move towards app-based commerce with the launch of App Clips, further bolstering its use as we emerge from lockdown and encouraging safer and hygienic ways to pay.

App Clips are a great way for consumers to quickly access and experience what an app has to offer. They are fast and lightweight so a user can open them quickly and start and finish an experience from an app in seconds. And when they’re done, the business can offer the opportunity to download the full app from the App Store.

We are also seeing a number of hospitality businesses warming towards the use of app-based commerce and doing a great job of implementing it. The technology has already become central to the safe trading operations of big names in the industry such as Caffè Nero and The Young’s Pub, which are great examples of how to make apps work for your business.

As the industry steadily navigates its way through a new normal of operating, we expect that app-based commerce will skyrocket. In fact, we’ve already seen a great number of businesses throughout different industries expressing interest in the payment method, suggesting that it will play a pivotal role in moving forward. It certainly is a great way for businesses to keep staff and customers safe.

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Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for

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Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for 3

By Kristy Chong, CEO & Founder Modibodi ®

Taking single use plastics out of circulation is no easy feat, but the answer might lie closer than we think

FemTech: The Beginnings 

The term FemTech was initially coined to describe the powerful offering from tech start-ups as they ventured into developing revolutionary products centred around women’s health needs. Whilst the beginnings were humble, we have seen a whole host of innovations enter the market which have changed the game for women and business leaders around the globe.

Fast forward to 2020, FemTech is an industry predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2025 [1]and a powerhouse that is not just tackling women’s health issues but also helping to solve major environmental and sustainability crisis that we face today.

The fearless female entrepreneurs have founded and grown businesses that are continuing to help women across the globe deal with issues such as fertility, periods, sexual wellness, pregnancy and many others. And the best is yet to come.

It is a Man’s World

Traditionally, both technology and medical sectors have been very slow in tackling women’s issues and notoriously lagged in developing products and tools that address issues predominantly affecting women. Whilst figures show that women spend 29%[2] more on healthcare than men, only 4% of overall R&D funding goes towards developing products for the women’s sector[3] therefore the market is ripe for disruption.

As a woman, a mother and entrepreneur I knew that like many others I had to take matters into my own hands.

Following an incident with incontinence whilst training for a marathon in 2011 after the birth of my second child, I recognised the need to innovate apparel that offered a dignified, supportive and sustainable solution for women to manage leaks from periods, incontinence and everything in between. After two years of product development and over  1000 scientific tests, I founded Modibodi in 2013 with a long term view of breaking taboos, opening minds and offering a reusable, sustainable option for sanitary products that’s not just for women – but for the benefit of all bodies on this planet and the environment too. Now, we’ve expanded on that notion to support all people, including men who suffer incontinence, sweating and chafing, providing them with a reusable, sustainable option with our Modibodi Men range.

As you can imagine, this was far from simple not just due to tech and business sectors being notoriously dominated by men, with figures showing that 98% of VC funding goes towards male founded products[4] but also because we were not just selling a new brand of lipstick or gym-wear, we had created a whole new product category based on talking about things that made people and retailers uncomfortable.

As a social advocate for women’s health issues and rights I knew that I needed to persevere because the amalgamation between technology and feminism is a major force of social change and one that can have wide scale impact on our world.

The Sustainability Story

The sustainability agenda has really taken off in the last couple of years, especially in our war against single use plastic.  But it occurred to me very early on that we are not doing enough and there are still areas that need urgent review.

Very early on in the development stage of Modibodi I knew that sustainable sanitary products could be a game changer in eliminating single use plastics from circulation and whilst the world and respective governments were focusing on plastic straws, I felt the change needed to come from numerous angles and streams of consumerism.

The proof of concept was starring us right in the face, the average woman uses an average of 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products in her lifetime and these convenient products come with an inconvenient environmental cost. They take 500 to 800 years to biodegrade, which means the first ever tampon and pad is still in landfill. Even more alarmingly, 8% of all waste that enters water treatment works comes from period waste, including non-flushable items such as pantyliners[5].

This is why I believe that the revolutionary innovations that are born out of the FemTech sector have capabilities to be one of the key drivers of the sustainability agenda. There is something remarkably special about a group of purpose driven businesses that can connect with consumers through a collective set of values to drive change and be a force for good.

What’s Next?

As most purpose driven business leaders will tell you, the fight never stops as the world evolves and continues to change. The sheer growth in the FemTech sector and the capabilities developed to date have changed millions of lives around the globe.

As an industry and a movement, we’ve also managed to play our part in driving the sustainability agenda and I will argue that actually the wide scale change and unity needed to continue making strides in eradicating single use plastic from our circulation will come from within the powerhouse that is FemTech.

The sheer capacity for change can be easily demonstrated if we look at the granular data and its potential for growth. If just 100,000 young girls use Modibodi alone from the start of their menstrual cycle, this would prevent 1.1 billion disposable hygiene products from ending up in landfill or 1.5 million garbage bags of waste. As of May 2020, our global base of 500,000 customers alone have prevented an estimated 2.5 million garbage bags of disposable hygiene waste from ending up in landfill or flushed into the ocean.

With the FemTech industry growing at a racing speed, I have no doubt that we are at the tipping point of pioneering wave of inventions that will take the agenda further and have the capacity and means to lead the movement. It is up to the trade organisations and world leaders to recognise the potential that such businesses and brands carry in order help to facilitate its growth trajectory.

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