By Matt Phillips Diebold Nixdorf
Lockdown has shone a new light on the strengths – and weaknesses – of the retail banking sector. With customers’ needs having changed almost overnight to comply with social distancing guidelines, the industry must now shift its sights to innovating for the future. But focusing solely on meeting the short-term needs of customers would be a missed opportunity; banks seeking opportunity in the challenges of today will be using this new, more digital-dependent retail banking landscape as a springboard to reimagine their entire customer journey. Successful initiatives will drive cost savings, a sharper competitive edge, and, importantly, the best possible service for customers.
Existing technologies lay the path ahead
Those who question why banks have been facing competition from challengers and lean fintechs for years need look no further than their existing tech offerings. New disruptors have built their service models with technology at the centre, combining agility and efficiency into their service as standard. High street banks and their legacy tech have lagged behind.
The shape of face-to-face service is shifting as we move out of lockdown, stripping traditional banks of one of their key retail banking USPs. Now, they must look to migrate these services – seamlessly – onto digital channels to meet their customers’ needs. But doing this alone is essentially playing catch-up. Getting ahead means looking beyond the horizon.
Consider contactless functionality in payments as an example: it is among the most significant retail finance trends of the last decade. For many card users, contactless payments have become the norm. Yet the potential for contactless functionality extends far beyond payments; contactless technology is that which minimises the need for human interaction and intervention. With this in mind, the technology already exists to make the entire retail banking customer journey contactless. Payments is just a small part of this.
One group which stands to benefit greatly from contactless retail banking services is small business owners. By pre-staging transactions, the need for those making business cash deposits to go to a branch during opening hours – potentially detracting valuable time away from trading hours – diminishes. Using an app, business owners can have their deposit pre-authorised, with a code confirming the request that is then used at a deposit-taking ATM (which runs 24/7) to identify and reconcile the deposit. The noted contact for the account receives both an e-receipt and confirmation of the cash drop.
This functionality is both safer under current guidelines and more efficient for the bank. And while these initiatives are not common at the moment, we expect to see them trending upwards in the near and medium term.
Digital and personal
We live in the age of the digitalised and the personalised – and these are far from coincidental, with data making it possible to tailor services and applications to individual customers. We cannot ignore that the majority of consumers are digital natives and are interacting with sophisticated biometric identification every day through their smartphones. Such advanced facial recognition software in such a casual context would have seemed closer to science fiction than fact just ten years ago.
Mass acceptability of facial recognition function is in no small part driven by big tech firms. But what if the same technology we use to unlock our smartphones could also be incorporated into accessing banking products and services? Technically, it can. The technology is primed for usage – and drives significant strides towards contactless Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes and on-boarding. At present, adhering to KYC in retail banking can mean that customers have to go into their branches to be physically verified. Of course, customer willingness to accept and use these services is key to achieving critical mass usage and ensuring ROI. But, given how Covid-19 is shifting the needle around the use of digital channels, we may be on fertile ground for introducing new innovations for the longer term.
Across the financial services industry, platformication has graduated from being a buzzy concept to a widely accepted noun. I believe that the next frontier for this, in retail banking at least, is portalisation. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated and seamless APIs and favourable regulatory tides – such as Open Banking – retail banking has the ability to join together software platforms, dynamic and tailored to the individual user. This kind of agile technology gives rise to the idea of the ‘customer portal’ – a streamlined, personalised dashboard for customers’ banking information. For some, this could be leveraging the Account Information Service Provider (AISP) element of the PSD2 Open Banking regulation – pulling together and displaying a user’s bank account information, such as outgoings and account balances, with explicit permission from the user – to offer an API-powered oversight of a user’s financial health.
For retail banks in particular, a permissioned user portal could centralise pertinent customer information. Consider this: a customer starts applying for a loan online but they don’t finish the application. There is no human staff-member intervention triggered to troubleshoot why the customer didn’t finish. Perhaps they changed their mind, or perhaps they didn’t fully understand the product, or the information required to apply for it. The unfinished application remains so – because bank tellers and contact centers have no way of finding out that the customer was interested in taking out a loan, unless they sought out support. The digital infrastructure just isn’t there.
But that digital infrastructure does exist. As an industry, banking tends to be quite siloed, and when the digital channels that retail banks offer their customers were developed and deployed, the technology was still broadly nascent. Integration and interoperability over the longer term was not a consideration. Yet banks cannot be encumbered by their legacy technologies forever: not unless they want to risk being beaten out by agile and digital-forward competitors. Centralising the full customer experience into a single personalised portal by harmonising mobile and contact center technology, along with customer, teller and self-service channels could create a more seamless and efficient way of doing retail banking.
What’s more, incorporating data analytics, AI and IoT into this digital offering could provide even more personalised and meaningful insights, such as the best loan product or banking account to suit their needs. The potential is enormous – but first requires a solid foundation of agile and integrated technology.
Creative and thoughtful application of technology is trending upwards across the banking industry, spearheaded by challengers and fintechs. Yet as it stands, the industry is generally slow-moving. Traditional banking models are not agile, which inhibits the rapid adoption of new technologies – such as those we have discussed here. How can traditional banks inject and accelerate agility into their models?
At base level, it comes down to what banks consider to be the core elements of their business. Is IT central to their growth strategy yet? From the perspective of consumer trust and security, it should be foundational in any banking organisation and integral to the evolution of their services. What will customers need in future? How can technology be used to meet these needs while also driving efficiency and ease across user channels? How can technology be used to reimagine clunky, siloed processes?
These are all questions which require tech acumen and creativity. What makes the road ahead so exciting is that the trailblazers and leaders are yet to reveal themselves. With an effective strategic partner, there is an opportunity here for banks to really drive the agenda for the future of retail banking – ultimately showing their customers that they are forward thinkers and doers.
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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