Top 10 Retail Banking Innovations in the World

To find the best innovations in retail banking, you usually need to look beyond North America. The best evidence of this ongoing trend is a review of winners in major financial innovation competitions worldwide. Here is a summary of some of the best-of-the-best innovations recognized by Efma and Accenture.

New Business Ecosystem

mBank (Poland) won the New Business Ecosystems award for “mPower Business Starter,” which integrates government, bank and accounting services to create an easy and intuitive new business customer (entrepreneur) user experience – reducing the new business establishment process from at least 10 days to less than 10 minutes.

Starting new business includes dramatic life changes and business issues that inexperienced entrepreneurs must solve, including challenges with both bank and legal forms that must be completed.  In most cases, the process included at least 5 visits to financial institution, multiple forms and ~200 fields to be completed. The goal was to reduce the paperwork from dozens of forms to requiring only 6 fields to be filled in.

By using a state digital signature, opening a business bank account, signing up for accounting services and officially registering a new company could be streamlined for up to 90% of companies opening a new business. What was most important, mBank’s mPower Business Starter brought together two separate e-government services into a single client journey, eliminating the need for separate portals and logins. This implementation was developed in co-operation with Polish government.

Further developments planned for 2018 include:

  • Robo-advisory calibration and further enhancements based on production data
  • Collaborative browsing with accounting advisors
  • Mobile application version

Workforce Empowerment and Behavior

Intesa Sanpaolo (Italy) won the Workforce Empowerment & Behavior award with its Digital Learning portal and Smartphone app, which increases employee engagement and entices them to learn anytime, anywhere through a Netflix-inspired digital learning process

To improve the training and learning processes, combining customization and personalization with digital accessibility, ISP identified as essential to design a new learning service that was flexible, user friendly, easily accessible and more and more customized to individual needs.The bank followed a J3 approach: Just in time, Just for me and Just enough.

To increase employees’ engagement and improve the way training was developed, delivered and communicated, a digital portal was used. This was considered essential in reaching over 100,000 employees many of which were assigned to the more than 5,000 ISP branches. Learning is now available on smartphone and laptops, with employees able to access the tools with a non-mandatory approach and select digital contents based on digital self-planning and assessment of needs.

It is also the first time learning content is specifically created inside the Bank, with the set-up of the Learning Factory and Learning Media Lab – today run by 70+ digital learning specialists.

To deliver excellent content the bank created an ecosystem of institutions in partnership with ISP (top-ranked Universities, international Research Centers and top influencers), all collaborating to develop innovative content and knowledge to be used internally.

Wallets and Payments

Barclaycard (UK) won the Wallets & Payments category with Barclaycard “Grab+Go”, which transforms a shopper’s smartphone into a ‘pocket checkout’ so the retail customer can scan the items they want to buy as they pick them off the store shelves, initiating a mobile payment and leaving the business without needing to go through a long check-out line.

One of the pain points of purchasing that consumers constantly cite is the need to queue to make a payment for something; they increasingly want speed and convenience when shopping. Centered around a proprietary “Grab+Go” app, it allows shoppers to simply scan the items they want to buy as they select them, click checkout when they’re done and walk out the store without visiting a cashier. Payment is taken seamlessly and invisibly in the background using pre-loaded card details.

Making ‘invisible payments’ is becoming increasingly commonplace in many of the mobile apps we buy goods and services through these days, including Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon’s 1-Click ordering service, etc. Instead of entering payment details every time, they are instead stored in an app or online interface, with the authorization for the merchant to process payments incorporated into the purchase journey, seamlessly and invisibly.

Grab+Go is the first use of this way of purchasing in the physical retail environment – combining it with the ability for the user to scan and ‘checkout’ their own shopping, it brings another brand new way of paying (and) shopping. This may be the key to moving usage from plastic to the mobile device since unique value is provided.

Global Innovator of the Year: Challenger Bank

N26 (Germany) was named Global Innovator of the Year for a Challenger Bank for bringing innovative services to market over the last year, including N26 Business, an account that enables freelancers and self-employed workers to navigate both their business and private finances, and a new digitized insurance service in partnership with insurtech provider, Clark.

As the largest challenger bank, N26 has expanded their digital-only banking offering to include more services and increased convenience for customers. It develops every product as a mobile-first application, as opposed to traditional banks who simply add on a mobile interface to their existing infrastructure. From the signup process to accessing account statistics, every function is just a single tap away.

Using open banking APIs, N6 has expanded their product line as well as their scope. They not only have expanded across Europe, but have intentions of expanding into the U.S. as well. The growth of N26 helped to get the digital-only bank named as the top innovator in the challenger bank category.

Global Innovator of the Year: Traditional Bank

BBVA (Spain) was named Global Innovator of the Year for an Established Player for the innovations it brought to market in 2017. These include the BBVA API Market open and global API platform, which enables companies of all sizes to access a secure and powerful set of financial tools to help them innovate.

With BBVA API Market, an organization can create new services and offer added value for theirclients, allowing the organization to improve their experience. The APIs manage, monitor and analyze payments, verify identity and notify clients, giving access to segmented purchasing patterns, and much more … with the support and assurance of BBVA.

Companies of any size and any industry can now easily integrate financial services into their product offerings. The educational and development platform provided by BBVA on their API site is unprecidented in the industry and shows the bank’s commitment to innovation beyond the traditional.

Innovation in banking is not universal, yet it is exciting when done well. The organizations that received awards this year (not just the top awards, but those who received silver and bronze recognition) are not unfamiliar with receiving kudos for their efforts. These firms are always named when we talk innovation in banking.

It all starts with culture and an enthusiasm to innovate.

“It’s exciting to see so much innovation from companies around the world,” said Vincent Bastid, Efma’s CEO. “The spectrum of innovations that we’ve seen this year has never been so diverse, with major developments in 2017 including blockchain progress, advances in personalization, encouragement of entrepreneurship, expansion of hubs, evolution of banks in motion, empowerment of customers through self-service and self-shopping, and the combination of AI and Big Data. As institutions push the boundaries, they are creating new and exciting ways to engage with customers and provide the products, services and experiences for a digital-first world. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners for their achievements.”

Piercarlo Gera, global managing director of Accenture Distribution and Marketing Services, said, “We continue to be impressed with how DMI Award winners leverage digital technologies to create innovations that generate value for clients—in terms of customer experience—and also for banks, to help gain market share, drive revenue growth and deepen client relationships, while reducing costs. Digital industrialization in managing the underlying processes in customer engagement is rapidly increasing year after year as customer experience is increasingly critical given the competition that retail banks are facing from non- traditional competitors. While the majority of this year’s winning banks are from Europe, they represent numerous countries, showing that innovation knows no boundaries.”

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