Ian Chittick, Director – Digital Client Access, Barclays Corporate
The corporate banking world often differs from its consumer counterpart in a number of ways, perhaps nowhere more so than customer experience. While consumer banking has made great strides in making products more accessible and user friendly, corporate banking solutions have at times remained complex and disparate, making the management of services a time consuming frustration for many corporate treasurers.
Typically, attempts to unify services have sought to simply plug the gaps between separate products creating a disjointed service that does little to improve the customer experience. A mishmash of services packaged roughly together can result in an overly complex solution that leaves the end user as an afterthought.
This was at the heart of what we set out to address when developing iPortal. Rather than the tried and failed patchwork approach, iPortal is a purpose-built online gateway that brings all services and products together to give businesses a complete overview of their corporate banking. The concept is simple but that is precisely why it works.
iPortal is one of the first products that genuinely unites the different aspects of corporate banking. Rather that filling the gaps, it has been specifically designed to give businesses a single point of entry, allowing clients to access their banking services at any time, wherever they are.
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The key to unified corporate banking is simplicity. Logging into multiple platforms to access all the information needed to keep on top of company accounts is a laborious process that wastes valuable time. With iPortal the goal was to deliver a solution to minimise the amount of time spent banking, leaving clients with more time to focus on what is important – their business.
Retail banking centres around being easy and accessible, so why should this differ for corporate clients? Businesses often use a multitude of services offered by their bank but each one exists in isolation. A holistic view of a company’s finances is an invaluable tool for those managing them and all too often it doesn’t exist.
iPortal gives an overview of all balances meaning for businesses with multiple accounts in different business divisions and activity in different countries, banking is no longer a glorified juggling act. It has been designed as a helping hand for businesses; providing checklists and allowing the approval of transactions on the go, not only streamlining processes but bringing the experience of consumer banking to the corporate world.
Technology advances mean that ‘work’ is no longer necessarily done in a single office building. Workers are free to work in the office, at home or on the go and in an increasingly mobile workforce those managing the accounts are no exception. Corporate banking services need to be able to grant clients the flexibility that has become part and parcel of working life, because it is not just retail banking customers that want to access their finances on the move. iPortal’s development was founded on the understanding that those using it are no longer static and is able to give the same holistic view and access to a company’s accounts regardless of device or location.
However, the many passwords and security measures required to keep data and finances safe are one of the root causes of what makes corporate banking so complex, especially when you factor in concepts such as mobility. Banks are under pressure to make the process simple, without sacrificing security and this has been the ultimate challenge.
In 2014, five out of six large companies in the UK were targeted by cybercriminals, according to the 2015 Internet Security Threat Report from cyber security firm Symantec. This is a 40% increase from the year before and security is quite rightly an increasing concern. Over time, online security has become more and more sophisticated in order to counteract online fraud and theft, and it is essential that banks invest at their end to give clients peace of mind when it comes to safeguarding their finances.
One of the ways iPortal makes accessing accounts as secure and simple as possible is using the Barclays Biometric Reader. It works by scanning the finger’s veins and blood flow, eliminating the need to remember passwords or login details to access the company accounts. It offers more security than a fingerprint and is a key aspect of the improved user experience clients expect.
Barclays receives over 50,000 calls a year from corporate clients experiencing problems with passwords. By phasing out passwords in favour of authentication technology that is not only more secure, but impossible to forget, clients have complete access to their accounts all the time. Whatever the future of security holds, from retina scanners to voice recognition, iPortal is designed to allow constant security upgrades to always make use of the latest advances in authentication technology in a way that works for the customer.
Recognition that corporate clients are still at their core, just people, who value a streamlined and straightforward user experience whether at work or at home, is an important step for any bank to take. Banks need to humanise all clients and commit to delivering a platform that integrates seamlessly with their business, rather than forces organisations to modify their working practises to fit with rigid systems. At Barclays, we’re confident that through the iPortal, we are achieving this objective, helping our clients manage their banking activity more easily and securely than ever before.