Exclusive: ‘The digital touch’ – Peter-Jan Van De Venn, Mobiquity in “The Fintech Magazine”
Peter-Jan Van De Venn, Strategy Director of digital consultancy Mobiquity, says the pandemic emphasises the need for banks to create human-centric, digital solutions in imaginative ways
The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled a historic shift to digital, as consumers the world over rely on contactless options for everything from essential shopping to managing their finances. Yet, many financial services providers are struggling to meet this surge in demand for digital services head-on, according to research by digital consultancy Mobiquity.
It studied more than 50,000 UK customer reviews of banking apps within the Google Play and Apple app stores to see what ‘frictions’ most got people’s goat. Its findings are a wake-up call for providers that haven’t yet taken note of the seismic shift in customer expectations and grasped their digital strategies by the horns.
Mobiquity’s Friction Report To Benchmark UK And NK Mobile Banking Apps found the biggest problems surrounded authentication. Almost a third (30 per cent) of digital banking app customers experienced issues logging into apps through their devices. One in five (20 per cent) had issues with username and password or passcode authentication.
However, customer service also left a lot to be desired, with almost a quarter (24 per cent) of customers waiting too long for it and a fifth (22 per cent) feeling their issues went unresolved. Mobiquity’s vice president of global financial services, Matthew Williamson, said of the report: “As the use of digital payments increases during the pandemic, so has mobile banking usage.
“Nowadays, banks cannot risk treating their customers as passive observers, building products and features that do not take their feedback into consideration.”
Committed to ‘developing solutions to get to the heart of what customers need and want by combining strategy, creativity and engineering’, Mobiquity is determined to help banks do something about these somewhat alarming trends. Its website states: “COVID-19 has changed customer expectations around experience and the ability to receive a fully digitised and paperless service, with the decline of in-branch customer interactions.”
And improvements in onboarding are among the most urgent needs, as banks seek to preserve their bottom lines in a volatile economic environment by attracting new customers. This has increased the need for banks to implement digital onboarding to respond to these expectations, along with the ability to stay adaptable for future pandemics and crises that require social distancing and digital-only services, believes Mobiquity.
And the real trick is to do all of this in a ‘personal’ way, or as the company puts it: “At the same time, for banks to retain their customers they must ensure their digital onboarding is human-centric, translating the customer relationship from the physical to the digital world without losing the connection.”
Mobiquity’s strategy director Peter-Jan Van De Venn describes why improving onboarding is so vital: “Onboarding is the process with the biggest drop-offs because it’s still necessary to get a lot of information and people don’t like that, so the easier banks can make it, the better.
“It’s more important these days, not just because people expect it, but the pandemic means there is an extra demand to onboard new customers without having people in branches. “We [only] see demand increasing, but there are still many banks that don’t have full digital onboarding,” he continues. So, what’s stopping them?
“Some banks might still believe in the personal touch, and want to see the client. There are also areas where regulation might be an issue, like business banking. Banks are getting fined for anti-money laundering (AML) violations and this has raised the bar in terms of doing business banking onboarding fully digitally.
“For me, it’s very simple; I see banks in a certain regulatory area that can do it, so others should be able to do it too, right?
“But then, automating costs money, so there needs to be a business case. For some, it might just be too costly to do. Or the right technology might not be ready to enable it, because the bank hasn’t yet taken the pain of bringing its systems to the next level, with the flexible architecture to easily add applications.”
Solutions to suit all sorts Mobiquity can help those banks that do wish to go ahead, to connect their internal infrastructures to external plug-in solutions for things like ID verification, as well as building custom solutions, says Van De Venn. It takes an ‘end-to-end, strategic approach to creating the flexible architecture necessary for frictionless onboarding’.
“We have the capabilities to build, consult and design, as well as developing a long-term IT strategy to cope with today’s customer demands and, even more importantly, future ones,” Van De Venn adds. Not doing it is not an option. “Our research shows that the banks have to move on in the whole digital journey, not just in onboarding, and we will see an increase in the number that provide full digital onboarding – because it only works if it’s fully digital. Partly digital most of the banks already do, but full digital onboarding will increase, to make the process as easy as possible.
“It’s a big hurdle to go into a branch and people do it less and less these days – if they have to go to the branch because a wet signature is needed or they need to identify themselves. Onboarding is one of the most important processes, because getting new clients is at the heart of growing their businesses. At the same time, the number of digital-savvy clients is only increasing.
“The younger generation are getting older and they are used to having the best digital solutions when they go online, in the big tech environment. Customer experience is key, so it’s very important that banks are able to cope with those high demands. That means they need a frictionless process.”
As well as keeping customers happy, enabling full automation helps the banks Mobiquity works with keep costs down, says Van De Venn.
“It lessens the operational impact for banks and reduces costs. The regulators are also very happy because an automated process is really controllable, auditable and consistent. It’s a win-win-win situation,” he adds.
Another by-product of digital onboarding is freeing up overstretched in-house teams to focus more on customer service – with this in mind, Mobiquity bills itself as a tech company but with a human heart. “Tech is important, but making tech that people really want and is close to customer needs, is where we differentiate,” he adds.
This blend of the digital and the human has the potential to reach parts of the industry that have been no-go for automation in the past, like wealthtech.
“Five years ago, a lot of private, wealth management banks would say ‘our target group doesn’t want it’, and, for the short term, they might be right. There are a lot of people who still like to go into the bank, but that group is getting smaller and there is a whole new one that grew up with technology that is demanding it. That’s why, in recent years, we’ve seen digital wealth management propositions popping up for the 30-year-old millionaires, of which there are significant number, just in Europe.
This is a group that is growing and growing. “Maybe, for them, personal interaction is still important, but then let’s use technology as a supportive layer. Digital is for everybody. For example, we’ve seen many private banks focussing more on wealthier clients, simply because the less wealthy are too expensive to serve. For that middle group, there is a business case, in terms of wealth management, for digital and personal-at-a-distance solutions.
“There are many people who are OK with doing a lot themselves, but just want confirmation from their relationship manager. It’s possible to make life better for clients by providing them with technology, but still be there if they want you. The private banks that can do that well can run a very cost-efficient business for this target group that they might have tried to get rid of, in the past, because they were too expensive to serve.”
And Van De Venn believes the future is full of infinite possibilities like this. “Open banking means banks can build their own propositions, making use of multiple others to create their own infrastructure,” he says. “They have the opportunity to be that personal brand for clients, but still offer multi-bank services.
“In this digital world, you have to continuously listen to your clients and adapt.”
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