Taking Lessons from Retail Banking to Enable Commercial Clients to Bank Wherever, Whenever
The Digital Banking Revolution
Over the past decade, the banking industry has witnessed a revolution. Ten years ago, the idea that consumers could manage their bank accounts, send money to a friend or pay their bills with the tip of their finger was merely a dream. Payments would take days and required people to have to actually mail a paper check or make a trip to a local branch to get it done. Nowadays, those methods seem archaic and customers, big and small, demand seamless, real-time banking no matter where they are.
Mobile banking is of course a huge driver of this digital revolution as more and more people are relying on their smartphones to handle day-to-day tasks. According to Compete Pulse, over 590 million mobile phone users across the globe used their device for banking purposes, a number expected to eclipse 1 billion by 2017. The market is there, and customers demand corresponding speed, ease-of-use and flexibility from their bank’s offerings. The demand for digital excellence is driving the development of new services in wholesale banking as much as it is in retail, although there is a ways to go before wholesale banking obtains anywhere near the penetration and uptake figures seen in retail banking.
Meeting Commercial Clients’ Mobile Banking Needs
Looking towards 2015, here are six key lessons that we’ve learned from our retail colleagues:
Payment Agility: Consumers increasingly insist on faster and easier ways to send and receive money electronically, and commercial clients demand the same. At Bank of America, we established the CashPro Advisory Board, which is comprised of nearly 100 clients ranging from middle market to large corporations. The resounding feedback from clients was sending payments to companies or government entities should be as easy as sending money to a friend. In September, Bank of America introduced a new payment solution that enables companies to make payments to their customers digitally, eliminating the need to issue a check or maintain sensitive personal bank account information. To come up with this solution, we turned to our colleagues in Consumer Banking. The solution leverages proven technology behind peer to peer (P2P) payments, a capability currently offered to our retail banking customers.
Portability: Mobile banking apps must be easy to use and convenient, enabling consumers to bank from anywhere in the world. The same is true for commercial clients.
Security: In addition to the portability of our products, both retail and commercial clients must feel confident in the security of our mobile offerings.
Functionality: According to the UK Banking Apps Report 2013 from Xtreme Labs, one of the most common customer complaints with mobile apps is a lack of basic functionality. Consumers expect a great user experience and everyday banking functionality from their bank’s digital offering. Bank of America is designing applications with mobility in mind: fewer clicks, consolidation of functions, usability, as well as being mindful of varying connectivity speeds of clients across continents. Many banks simply mirror their portal capabilities, but don’t redesign the mobile application to capitalize on the mobile features and desired usability for clients. For commercial clients, this includes features like account balance functionality and trade authorization abilities that are critical to their business.
Collaboration: In order to better serve clients, we continuously source feedback and innovation from our clients and strategic partners. This collaborative approach has led to the creation of groups like the CashPro Advisory Board. We have gained invaluable feedback that has led to improvements that better serve their needs.
Architecting for the future: One of the most important lessons for us as an enterprise is developing products which have the flexibility and agility to be adapted for different business segments. Digital Disbursements is a great example of the ability to take technology that was originally developed for and only used in our consumer space and making minor modifications so that it could be leveraged for companies and government entities. Having the vision to build globally, with the ability to tailor as needed, promotes consistency and simplicity in our products, increases our speed-to-market, and is more cost effective in the long run.
What the Future Holds
While digital banking is now widely adopted by consumers, it has also become highly valuable to our commercial clients. As an industry, we have made tremendous strides, but there is room to grow. By learning from our peers, both in retail and wholesale banking, digital users will enjoy the same banking experience whether for personal use or work. We remain committed to collaboration across all of our businesses to deliver the best solutions for our clients based on their needs and look forward to making the entire banking experience better connected.
By Bill Pappas, Chief Information Officer, Global Wholesale Banking Technology & Operations, Bank of America and bobsguide Contributing Editor