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Quality over quantity

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Quality over quantity

A bank’s architecture has long defined its purpose: stable, strong and secure. In recent years, however, the nature of bank branches has changed. Due to a number of factors, including the emergence of digital banking, the industry has witnessed a transformation in why or when people use bank branches, as well as the number of people still using them.

Branches account for a third of banks’ expenditure and transactions costs in-branch far outweigh their digital equivalents. In fact, PwC says that branch transactions cost roughly $4 each, whereas online and mobile transactions cost $0.09 and $0.19 respectively. It is therefore important that branches streamline services to reduce their costs while using video analytics to provide unique customer journeys.

A new role for a digital era

Bank branches no longer need to be as close as possible to their customers, as digital innovation has opened up the convenience of banking to consumers and businesses wherever they are. However, complete bank branch closure is far from a reality.

IBM found that branchless banks are struggling to grow as they have difficulty gaining trust and enticing new customers to join. This is because human interaction in banking is still necessary as there are still many services customers prefer to manage in-branch, such as business loans or mortgage consultations.

As the role of bank branches changes towards financial consultancy rather than traditional transactions, banks must be prepared to embrace a more human-centric approach. They should aim to operate on the quality, not the quantity, of bank branches to deliver a customer focused experience, based on trusted relationships where each customer feels valued.

The issues faced by bank branches

Martin Koffijberg

Martin Koffijberg

Historical events, such as the Lehman Brothers crash, have led to consumers becoming resentful towards, and less trusting of, financial institutions. The crash, which led to one of the biggest financial crises since the Great Depression, bought many businesses and financial institutions to the brink of collapse, wiped out millions of jobs and billions of dollars of income along the way.

Along with a lack of trust, banks are facing another issue: A change in the way people use and access money. Worldwide digitalisation and app developments have created a high level of customer expectation, with a 24/7 service via online and phone banking now seen as normal practice.

However, while it increases convenience, the remote, 24-hour access of everyday banking services has made it harder for banks to up-sell and cross-sell products to customers. This is because they are not visiting branches as regularly to see promotions and online ‘ad blindness’ means promotions in-app or on the website are often ignored.

By creating a customer experience journey as effortless as digital services, bank branches can maintain their competitive edge. Customers are more likely to come into the branch if they feel it will be easier, less time consuming and useful to do so.

Using untapped data to gain a competitive advantage

Looking at improving customer experience, banks can draw on the highly effective techniques of retailers. Under pressure from online stores, such as Amazon and Alibaba, retailers are using data in order to target consumers with attractive offers and improve in-store customer experience. By using various data sources, bank branches can better understand the customer journey and tailor their locations to suit the needs of consumers.

Using data will help deliver a better customer experience, vital for customer retention and growth by enhancing customer experience when they do come in-branch for a complex service. As a result, banks can increase the chances of attracting customers to new products.

For example, analyzing data across a branch’s opening hours around footfall, customer demographics and the most requested products can help branch managers optimize the branch’s customer service strategies across various time periods. Optimization possibilities range from promoting certain stage-of-life products when that age group is most likely to visit their branch, through to ensuring more staff are available on the branch floor to help customers during peak hours.

Along with providing great customer service, using the right data effectively can help banks reduce branch costs and improve efficiency. By analyzing how customers behave and move around the branch, banks can see where best to invest in automated services. By using automated machines to speed up the time spent with menial, lower profit interactions, banks can accommodate a larger number of customers during their working hours. This will allow branch employees to focus on complex customer demands for high margin products that necessitate human interaction.

How video analytics can be used to enhance customer service efficiencies

One way to gather data is through video analytics. Video analytics software examines video footage to provide the user with data that would otherwise not be easily obtained. In doing so, in this case, branch managers can understand the customer’s journeys from when they enter the bank to when they leave. The analytics can pick up data such as how many people enter the branch, where they spend the most time and therefore allow branches to adapt if they identify any issues.

Using video analytics in bank branches can create a tailored experience that the customer will enjoy more than if they to walk into a branch and wait in the first queue they see. Technology can also help create a relationship between the bank and its customers, with the latter feeling like a distinguished client.

In order to understand the footfall traffic, bank branches can use people counting technologies. This helps understand the comings and goings of people, including when new customers are likely to enter the branch. In doing so, the bank branch can determine when the most people are likely to enter the premises and can be better prepared to deal with customer requests.

For example, people often go to the bank during lunch breaks, but at this time, the bank employees are often on lunch break themselves. By staggering the lunch or asking the employees to take their break later, the bank is more likely to gain, and keep, clients as customers will be satisfied with the service provided.

Alternatively, banks can use this data to understand, or at least estimate, when new customers will come into the bank. As a result, bank branches can adapt their staff by increasing the number of employees who will be able to open new accounts. By enabling this customer focused approach, branches can gain new clients and also increase overall efficiency by providing the right advisor for the customer.

To decrease queue lengths, branches can combine video analytics with banking apps. The data that determines how many people are in the branch can be passed on to a mobile app through which customers can see just how busy, or not, a bank branch is. In doing so, customers can adapt their visits accordingly and miss out on long unnecessary queueing.

Furthermore, a queue management system can be used in conjunction with people counting. By knowing when the bank will be busy, queue management technologies can deduce where best to lead the customers so that they spend as little time as possible waiting. A short queue means a happy customer, who will not see visiting the branch as a burden.

With this in mind, as most services are available at the touch of a button or just an app away, customers don’t want to spend a long time in a queue. Customers will, therefore, leave the bank if they become impatient, increasing their frustration and creating issues when trying to attract and retain clients.

While not common practice at present, facial recognition software has the potential to be used to identify VIPs. Alternatively, customers could use the bank’s app to upload an image of their face, sign up for facial recognition and get on the facial recognition system themselves. These more client-centric approaches would allow the customers who are known to the bank branch to build and maintain strong bonds with bank employees.

By knowing who comes in, at what time and for what, bank branches can create what feels like an individually tailored customer experience for all involved. This will not only increase customer satisfaction but will help the bank reduce unnecessary costs.

Why a customer services approach is important

Improved customer satisfaction will lead to the retention and differentiation in a highly competitive market. By putting customers first and foremost in a bank branch’s mind, it becomes part of a bank’s brand proposition as it permeates the bank’s culture meaning employees will make sure that customer satisfaction is a top priority.

By understanding who comes in when and for what, branches can customize employees’ rotation to better deal with customer needs. This would enable branches to offer an intimate tailored and more customer-focused approach.

Furthermore, banks can use IP Audio systems to play background music for a more comforting experience or to create a dialogue with the customers by alerting them to anything pertinent. This can be from alerting customers that an employee is ready and free to see someone to informing customers that the bank branch will close in 5 or 10 minutes. In doing so, it can make for a more open and informative atmosphere, which helps build a relationship between a bank and its customers.

The digital transformation will enable tellers to, instead of sitting behind a desk, roam the branch floor equipped with digital devices, such as phones or tablets, in order to find out what customers need. This will create a more customer-centric atmosphere, increase efficiency and boost customer experience as their time is tailored to their needs instead of waiting in queues.

By creating this environment where the customer is number one, through employee focus or the use of technology, bank branches can help increase profitability and continue their legacy through bank branches in each city.

A new omni-channel banking experience

Although going digital may heavily reduce a bank’s expenditure, the main reason for doing so is to provide a much more flexible and agile approach to banking. Gone are the days where all bank transactions have to be done within a certain time of day. Thanks to digital, it is now a 24hr service.

Banks are no longer just places where people need to feel safe enough that their money is in good hands. While digital banking increases convenience, it is very impersonal. Banks need to understand that in order to retain, gain and increase customer numbers, they need to also take a more human-centric approach instead of one focused solely and specifically on sales, safety and security, something for which bank branches are the perfect platform.

Banking

The future of offshore banking

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The future of offshore banking 1

By Granville Turner, Director at Turner Little.

Despite its misconceptions, the popularity of offshore banking is growing. Not only is it a perfectly legal way of holding your money, but with the right professional advice, it is also reassuringly simple to open an account.

This ease-of-use is prompting many offshore banks to change their offering to compete and make overseas banking even more accessible. No longer is it limited to just the super-rich.

So, what does the future look like for offshore banks? We’ve compiled a list of the top fundamental changes happening in the realm of offshore banking.

Catering to niche markets is the future

Rather than managing account holder’s money in general, offshore banks are tapping into how they can best serve different demographics. Essentially, it is about taking a more bespoke approach to managing money at various stages of life.

But catering to a variety of markets doesn’t just stop there. Many overseas banks are now accepting crypto as a form of currency to appeal to digital, tech-savvy generations.

Cryptocurrency is also attractive for those who see the security benefits it can offer.

Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past

As banks move away from paper in favour of digital, security is on everyone’s minds. This is because information is an important asset to many businesses, so protecting it is vital. As such, banks are securing data with the most vigorous encryption security standards.

For account holders, this means digital bank transfers and communication become less of a risk and the smarter thing to do. Paper chains are fast becoming a thing of the past.

Instant access, day or night

In today’s digital world, you don’t need to travel overseas to open an offshore bank account; everything can be done online or over the phone. And like most UK standard current accounts, many offshore accounts now offer online and mobile banking features. So account holders can manage their offshore finances and investments while transferring funds with ease.

Branchless banking

Offshore banks are following the same route of challenging onshore banks by going branchless. This offers substantial benefits for account holders, as branchless offshore banks don’t pass on as much overhead costs to the customer. Ultimately, this means customers can earn better interest rates and other returns on their investments.

Happy to help

At Turner Little, we work closely with offshore banks to provide you with quality service tailored to your needs. With over 20 years of international banking experience and specialist expert knowledge, we will assist you with your enquiries, no matter how complex. And every account we arrange comes with internet banking, card facilities and the ability to transact internationally.

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Banking

Hong Kong’s First Multi-Cloud Challenger Bank Goes Live with Temenos

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Hong Kong’s First Multi-Cloud Challenger Bank Goes Live with Temenos 2
  • WeLab Bank designed, built and launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact in less than 10 months
  • WeLab offers next generational digital services for the 7.5m people in Hong Kong to access from their mobile phones
  • Customers can open accounts remotely in just 5 minutes with bank reporting 10,000 account openings within 10 days of launch

Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the banking software company, today announced that WeLab Bank, Hong Kong’s first homegrown virtual bank, has publicly launched using cloud-native Temenos Transact to provide a range of next generation digital services for customers to enjoy 24/7 from their mobile phones. Designed, built and launched in less than 10 months, the fully digital bank has seen rapid take up with a reported 10,000 account openings within the first 10 days of launch.

WeLab Bank is powered by cloud agnostic Temenos Transact for core banking along with Temenos Analytics and Financial Crime Mitigation. Implemented on Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, WeLab is the first multi cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Operating on multiple clouds at the same time gives WeLab increased operational resilience and disaster recovery capability and is a regulatory requirement of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for new digital banks. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit 2020 report for Temenos, 81% of global banking executives surveyed believe a multi-cloud strategy will become a regulatory prerequisite.

Developing a cost-effective and scalable core banking solution was paramount for WeLab. Temenos cloud native software is built for the digital age using API-first and DevOps principles and engineered to deploy in containers and microservices. This makes it easy for WeLab to scale for future business growth efficiently and eliminates the need to provision for peak processing volumes so that the bank only pays for its actual usage, yielding significant cost savings.

Critically, with NuoDB the solution delivers a cloud-agnostic, distributed relational database that enables WeLab to deploy an active-active on-demand database across multiple cloud providers with near zero downtime failover.

Temenos Transact is a preconfigured system and so requires very little coding and with Temenos model bank to address local practices and regulations, WeLab was able to bring its service to market faster and extend its innovation with more than 400 out-of-the-box APIs.

With Temenos, WeLab bank is set to transform banking in Hong Kong. In as fast as 5 minutes, customers can remotely open a WeLab Bank account with $0 monthly fees and start enjoying differentiated services such as time deposits with competitive rates, an interest-bearing deposit account with an instant virtual Debit Card, and real-time payments powered by Faster Payment System (FPS). Everything can be done on a mobile phone, simply and effortlessly.

Adrian Tse, CEO at WeLab Bank, commented: “WeLab Bank was born from an initiative to reimagine the banking experience for the 7.5 million people of Hong Kong. From the start, we knew this vision needed the most advanced cloud native technology and a partner that shared our vision for digital transformation. With Temenos we have efficiently built WeLab Bank from scratch, free from any legacies, with innovative features that proactively help customers to take control of their money and their financial journey.”

Max Chuard, Chief Executive Officer, Temenos, said: “Congratulations to WeLab Bank on the launch of their trailblazing new digital bank. Building and launching a licensed bank in such a rapid timeframe is a fantastic achievement and we are proud to have supported them in becoming the first multi-cloud digital bank in Hong Kong. Temenos cloud-native, cloud-agnostic strategy means we can satisfy the needs of the most innovative and ambitious neobanks like WeLab Bank to run on multiple cloud providers. We know this is just the beginning for WeLab and we are excited to be part of their story as they revolutionize banking for people in Hong Kong.”

Bob Walmsley, CEO of NuoDB said: “We are excited to be partnering with Temenos to help WeLab Bank achieve their aggressive launch timelines and deliver innovative banking services to its customers. We were inspired by the technical vision of WeLab and knew that executing an on-demand, multi-cloud strategy was a perfect fit for NuoDB. Our enterprise-class, distributed SQL database combined with Temenos’ cloud-native technology helps banks of all sizes around the globe migrate to the cloud to improve agility and reduce costs.”

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Banking

The Bank is Where the Heart Is

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The Bank is Where the Heart Is 3

By Nick Barnes, Practice Director, Financial Services & Customer Success at JRNI

When unexpected events occur, people turn to their banks to provide a sense of trust, security, and stability. They need to be available anywhere, anytime, and from any device. As it’s a business based on trust, one-on-one communication is key.

With the world still emerging from the COVID-19 crisis and endeavouring to avert a possible second wave, every country, state, and region has their own unique requirements. Plus, every customer or member has their own demands. Experts and pundits have discussed a new normal, but what’s normal for now involves keeping customers and employees safe while also providing the same sense of stability as before.

For banks, building societies and credit unions, the main concerns include how to maintain personal relationships amidst social distancing; how to be available at any time on any device; and how to provide a sense of calm and security amidst the chaos.

Adapt or fall behind

Customers are quickly learning which of their service providers are adapting best to this new world. Are financial services providers like banks and credit unions adapting, or falling behind?

Finances are a highly personal topic, and often, illogical or emotional. Will I have enough? Will it be available when I need it? It is always a hot topic of conversation, but especially during a pandemic when unemployment rates are rising, and the economic landscape is unsettled. In the past, a customer could walk into the bank, have a reassuring conversation with a representative and move on.

So, how can banks help their customers through tough financial times during the current crisis, when in-person communication is nearly impossible? One solution is to provide helpful, personalized customer service through digital channels.

While in-person assistance will remain important after COVID-19, customers are looking for assistance now.   Banks are turning to remote video and voice appointments to boost customer satisfaction and meet customer expectations.

3 reasons to use remote appointments

1. To comply with social distancing

Our Modern Consumer Banking Report​​​​​​​ last year showed that when consumers visit branches, it’s primarily to talk face-to-face and ask questions/get help.  Research from Bain reinforces this, and emphasizes that “many retail banking customers think it’s easier to purchase through a human channel, or prefer to speak with an employee before buying a product.”

Due to social distancing measures, branches cannot be customers’ primary way of managing their finances during this pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that customers aren’t interested in personalized attention that can be made available via video and voice.

2. To meet new demand 

Although spending habits may have changed, consumers are still making critical financial decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals: The financial effects of coronavirus are drastically different from one customer to the next. While some are counting down the days to receipt of their unemployment check, others may be taking advantage of low-interest rates to buy a house. Ultimately, banks and credit unions need to address each customer segment with a unique message and way of providing assistance.

Small business banking: Countless small businesses around the world have been forced to close their doors. Whether they’re needing loans, payment deferrals, or advice, small businesses are looking to their bank as a guide, and a comfort.

Investment management: A recession is upon us, and with that comes a new approach to investing. Financial advisors are fielding questions, providing recommendations, and staying up to date on the market. Beyond this, many are building entirely new strategies for their clients.

Regardless of customer type, it’s clear that each subset of customer needs help from their financial institution at this time.

3. To boost customer retention

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Financial institutions cannot afford to lose customers during the pandemic, so customer retention is crucial.  Great customer service boosts customer loyalty, and research from Bain shows that loyalty is key to retention:

  • Customer loyalty increases revenue, and loyal customers are less likely to switch to a competing bank.
  • Customers who are a bank’s “promoters” recommend the bank to others as much as six times more than “detractors.”
  • A bank’s “promoters” spend one-quarter more than detractors on their primary credit card.

Ultimately, being able to connect with a customer in need using video or voice can give customers peace of mind and boost loyalty. Delivering personalized financial services without interruption is crucial.

Initial results from video banking show that consumers consider the service valuable. Phoenix Synergistics’ survey from December 2019 found that 17% of customers polled had used video chat through a website or app with their financial institution. Of those that had used video chat, 89% found video chat valuable.

Some suggestions for banks using remote video or voice appointments would be to: firstly ensure your solution is secure and doesn’t expose personal information outside of the conversation; secondly create a culture of consultation to alleviate outstanding fears; thirdly leverage appointment setting to allow customers to pre-schedule consultations and enquiries; finally include remote appointments as part of a wider suite of ‘touchless’ offerings.

The dos and don’ts for bank branches

Forty-three percent of banking customers have expressed their desire to change the way they bank due to the pandemic. As with retail and hospitality, several key customer segments have doubts about visiting physical locations and are transacting more remotely.

The challenge for banks is to make services available wherever customers want to bank – be it by phone, online, or in branch – and when it comes to any transaction, the key is to make customers feel cared for, heard, and secure.

With social distancing parameters in place along with other health and safety measures, there’s significant focus on the need to retool the branch experience. Here are a few suggestions as we move into that next stage of business and interaction:

DO: Have a plan.

Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes

Think about how customers will enter and exit each location. Plan for increased space between people in line, how to attend to at-risk customers, properly spaced lobbies, and waiting areas. Consider your employees and what they need in order to stay safe including break rooms with increased space between lounging areas, removal of shared snacks, availability of hand sanitizer and masks.

DO: Make sure you can effectively manage footfall.

Overcrowding will create fear and loss of trust. Make sure you have plenty of directional signage, crowd control measures, and staffing. Solutions including people counters, occupancy managers, and pre-booked appointments​​​​​​​ both allow for the throttling of traffic, and the ability to build in cleaning time.

DO: Hire the right team and staff adequately.

Being courteous and in control will be the most important ingredient to success. Have enough staff, you will need the extra hands to ensure that all staff is properly trained and ready to enforce new protocols.

Some customers will be understandably anxious going into branches, and some will want to feel that everything has returned to normal, so staff may need to be very firm and well-versed in a new operating style.

DO: Offer customers the ability to bank when and how they prefer.

We’re not suggesting that you remain open for 24 hours, but the goal is to make it easy for the customer. Adding the ability to set an appointment with a wealth manager or an advisor online will enable customers to bank from home, and will enable banks to provide the personalized service customers have come to expect.

Leverage online appointment confirmations to remind customers to have key documents available if they need them. Virtual solutions position the bank to serve as an advisor rather than just a financial institution.

DO: Demonstrate your commitment to a safe environment.

Use clear signage to convey the measures in place to ensure customer and employee safety. Make hand sanitizer or wipes available throughout the branch, and in all high-touch areas. Ensure cleaning supplies are visible, around doorways and ​​​​​​​near greeters to provide customers with an added sense of security. And make sure that employees are following every measure required of customers.

DON’T: Lose customer confidence.

If you are not prepared, it will show, and it will be very hard to gain back customer confidence once compromised. Social media will not be your friend. Forrester Research reports that 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that demonstrate how they are protecting customers against the threats of COVID-19.

DON’T: Overcrowd or fill your branch to capacity.

Consumers are being trained to avoid crowds, so failure at the branch to comply could result in losing their business. Most physical locations are operating with fewer staff and accommodating 10 – 25% of the traffic once allowed. Keep in mind that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression on customers, and they’re looking to trust you have their best interests in mind.

DON’T: Understaff.

You will need to expect the unexpected and having more hands-on deck will prove to be beneficial in the long run.  Having the wrong staff, or those that don’t take the time to learn new operating procedures or feel comfortable telling that customer who won’t keep a mask on, may not be the best fit.

DON’T: Make it difficult for customers to do business with you.

Social distancing introduces a number of disruptions to the way you’ve traditionally done business. So limiting options to customers – providing no ability to bank online or via phone, not having a live customer service voice or chat option – is not going to help. In addition to making sure the services are available, it is imperative to communicate all options to customers.

DON’T: Assume someone else will do it.

Bank staff need to show that the branch is being tended to, cleaned between visitors, and before opening each day. It is important that staff jump in to help move customers safely through the branch, ensure their questions are answered and overall, take a proactive approach to service without assuming that a sign or another staff member will take care of it.  Customers will come to the branch, but gaining their confidence is everything. Don’t lose it by not being prepared. It will be very hard to win it back.

With the constant threat new restrictions in response to COVID-19 outbreaks, banks will need to take a long view on how they enable the operational flexibility that will be needed to adapt to fast-changing conditions.  As people prepare to live more risk-averse lives, banks will need to go the extra mile to ensure customers feel less wary about visiting in person whilst also offering a seamless experience for those customers who prefer to remain in the safety of their homes.  Those that manage to do so will emerge from the crisis with a sustainable advantage over their competitors.

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