Digital Is What We Do Now: Banking Trends And What Digital Teams Should Do About Them

Peter Wannemacher

The first email I received at work in 2014 was from a bank; along with a festive new year’s greeting, the email touted the bank’s new mobile app and a new feature that let customers set up travel notifications directly from the bank’s website. Later that day, I was in an airport reading a friend’s Facebook post about how she wished “more apps were like Uber.”

These are just a few small anecdotes about ongoing digital trends impacting businesses and banks both large and small. I recently spoke with a banking executive who put it simply: “Digital is what we do now.” (This quote is now the header of my Twitter feed.)

Forrester recently published our Trends 2014: North American Digital Banking report, in which we identify major forces impacting banks and lay out five actions that we recommend digital strategists take to prepare for the future of digital banking. Here’s a sample of some of our findings:

  • Banks will face a sustained – yet unclear – regulatory environment. In both the US and Canada, banks are confronting an uncertain regulatory future. The Dodd-Frank Act was signed into US law on July 21, 2010, but a large number of the rules and regulations remain unwritten. It's unclear when they'll be finalized, and the fact that 47% of deadlines have already been missed – according to the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell – doesn't bode well.
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Why You Should Turn To Poland For Digital Financial Services Inspiration

Oliwia Berdak

“How come America put a man on the moon 45 years ago but still has not produced decent online banking?” asked recently on Twitter Michał Panowicz, mBank’s Managing Director for Products, Digital Channels and Marketing and one of the speakers at last week’s Net Finance Conference. As provocative as the question is, Panowicz is in a strong position to ask it. After some big investments in the bank’s online and mobile offering, the bank has just announced record profits for the first quarter of 2014. Digital innovation is obviously paying off. But once you’re on that road, there’s no turning back. You can’t "undisrupt" yourself.

As my colleague Benjamin Ensor wrote some time ago, innovation often happens in clusters.This means that innovation by one company causes its competitors to not only match it but also to try to leapfrog it — resulting in rapid cycles of innovation. This is what is happening in Poland right now. During my trip there last week, a few bank executives told me of the increasing internal and external pressure not to fall behind digital innovation. There a couple of other reasons why Poland is a great testing ground for new financial services ideas; it has:

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Finovate Europe 2014: Digital Financial Innovation

Benjamin Ensor

I’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which must be one of the more thought-provoking ways anyone in digital financial services can spend two days.

Here’s my perspective on the lessons from the event for digital financial services executives:

  • More people are focusing on the small business opportunity. There were far more companies proposing to help small businesses manage their finances this year, in numerous ways from access to capital through to document storage and expense management. I was particularly impressed by the work that Efigence and Idea Bank have done to help Idea Bank’s small business customers manage their finances.
  • Automated financial advice for mainstream customers is edging closer. For years, Forrester has talked to its clients about the huge opportunity, and pressing need, for financial firms to use software to automate the production of financial advice. A growing number of firms are trying to solve this problem from one angle or another, including Money On Toast, Vaamo, Your Wealth and Yseop. Perhaps the best quotation of the event came from Elizabeth Farabee at Yseop: “A banker doesn’t sell the customer the best product, but the product he knows best.” Automating the manufacture of advice can fix that.
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Forrester’s 2013 US And Canadian Bank Secure Website Rankings

Peter Wannemacher

Hello, and a somewhat belated Happy New Year, dear readers! As we prepare for the upcoming year — and start to think about the digital banking space in 2014 — it is worth taking stock of where banks’ secure websites are today.

Late last year, Forrester published our annual benchmarks of the largest banks’ secure websites: The 2013 US Bank Secure Website Rankings can be found here and the 2013 Canadian Bank Secure Website Rankings can be found here. Here are a few highlights from this research:

  • Canadian banks excel at cross-selling. Canadian banking providers may well be among the best in the world at cross-selling on secure sites. In our reviews, Canadian banks earned scores that were significantly higher than US firms in our cross-selling category. In fact, every Canadian bank we ranked earned high marks for digital cross-selling. They accomplish this by embedding marketing and calls to action for additional products and employing merchandising tactics within "products and services" tabs.
  • US banks shine when it comes to money movement and alerts. All six US banks did well in our money movement category, which includes bill pay, transfers, and P2P payments criteria. The US banks also scored well across the board for alerts by offering extensive account, transaction, and security alerts across a range of delivery endpoints including email, SMS, and in-app alerts.
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Banks: Add Search To Your Secure Sites

Peter Wannemacher

The majority of bank customers are now active online bankers, making the content and functionality offered on secure sites more important than ever. Forrester has just published research on which features are must-have on banks’ secure websites.

For my money, the most surprising high-value secure website feature is search (here we mean natural language keyword search that lets a user find what he or she is looking for on the site). In fact, our research revealed search to be one of the few bank website features that customers rate as above-average in importance, yet search is either nonexistent or poor on most banks’ secure sites. So we wrote an entire research report about it. Here are some highlights:

  • Online banking customers want search… We asked consumers who bank online to "rate how important it is to you that your bank's website has each of the following features" and asked them about 14 different features, including search. The majority of online bankers — 68% in the US and 63% in Canada — say search is important to have on their bank's secure website.
  • …but few banks offer search on their secure website…Just seven of the 25 largest banks in North America include search functionality on their secure websites.
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Sophisticated Online, Internet, And Mobile Banking Solutions Help Banks Differentiate And Contain Costs

Jost Hoppermann

The bank I mainly use for my daily banking needs does not offer that many examples of great customer experiences. The two reasons why my family continues to use that bank are the high number of ATMs in the area where we live and a very customer-oriented branch advisor. Our most recent interaction with that bank (but not with that advisor) delivered yet another example of “great” customer service across channels, an experience that will likely cause us to look for a new bank. The chances that this yet-to-be-determined bank can offer better cross-channel capabilities at least at some point in the future are not bad at all: Many financial services firms are evolving beyond using just a single channel to get in touch with their customers (see the figure below)

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It's Time Digital Banking Teams Took Games Seriously

Benjamin Ensor

Rachel RoizenThis is a guest post from Rachel Roizen, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

Gamification, which Forrester defines as the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior, has rightfully been a hot topic of debate in many roles and many industries. We’ve blogged about it here, and written reports on success stories ranging from Club Psych on the USA Network to the use of games in education

The banking industry has been using some features of gaming for years, such as by offering redeemable points based on credit card purchases, but some remain wary of combining games with finances. Forrester’s view is that game mechanics can be used to draw in new and existing digitally connected customers. Digital teams at financial firms that have begun experimenting with gamification are seeing positive results, including increases to online engagement, online banking use, product sales, and social influence. Here are four leading firms that are betting on gamification and implementing it in innovative ways:

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Highlights and Thoughts From Finovate Fall 2013

Peter Wannemacher

[note: this was written live last week while I was attending Finovate]

Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here attending the fancy schmancy Finovate Fall 2013 conference featuring tech solutions and innovations from – and for – the financial services industry. Here are some of the offerings and presentations that stood out for me, in the order they were presented at Finovate:

  • Kofax offers process automation software for lenders, but the big takeaway for me was their recent expansion of mobile, cross-channel, and multichannel analytics for financial providers. Focused on how customers shop for a loan, the dashboard and data are digestible and actionable. The jury’s still out, but strong analytics and easy-to-use tools can help banks improve sales in their lending lines of business.  
  • MoneyDesktop offers digital money management tools – also known as personal financial management or PFM – and their demo at Finovate continued to show their strengths: Nifty tools, clean design, and intuitive UI and UX. The question mark for banks, however, continues to be how well integrated – or better yet, embedded – the experience can/will be for end users.
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Citi And Royal Bank Of Canada Earn The Top Spots In Our 2012 Bank Secure Website Rankings

Peter Wannemacher

Late last year, Forrester reviewed and ranked the secure websites of the 12 largest retail banks in the US and Canada. The full reports can be found here (US) and here (Canada). Overall, banks' secure websites earned an average score of 70 points (out of 100), demonstrating a level of quality that meets customers expectations but also leaves room for improvements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Citi moves to the top of the US rankings with a website overhaul. In July 2011, Citi launched its first tablet banking app. Based in part on insights gleaned from that process, the bank rolled out a newly redesigned secure website, followed by additional digital features and functionality for online bankers, mobile bankers, and tablet bankers. As a result, Citi moved from second-to-last in our ranking to the top spot this year.
  • RBC pulls off a historic sixth-straight win among Canadian banks' secure sites. For a record sixth year, RBC earned the top spot in our Canadian rankings. Two factors drive RBC’s digital banking success: First, the bank's secure website offers a wide array of secure site features, including eBills, tax management tools, and more; second, the bank continues to innovate, this year adding customizable money management dashboards and new mobile features such as foreign exchange and mortgage payment calculators on its iPhone app.
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The Digital Banking Strategist’s Wish List

Peter Wannemacher

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, you probably have a wishlist for your business. We thought it would be fun and interesting to find out what some of your wishes are, so the Digital Banking Strategy team at Forrester reached out to some of our eBusiness clients at banks and asked them “What one ‘wish’ do you have for your team’s digital banking efforts or strategy in 2013?”

Here are some of the answers we got back:

  1. “We wish we could transform every branch and call center employee into an advocate for marketing and educating customers on our digital capabilities.”
  2. “I wish that our execs would understand how understaffed we are.”
  3. “I wish we had better live help for our digital banking customers.”
  4. “I wish I knew which area of mobile payments to focus on and what is going to ‘shake out’ and actually ‘stick,’ so to speak.”
  5. “We wish for a digitalized branch pilot that focuses on advice and guidance.”
  6. “We wish all of our customers – including the most skittish and skeptical – would try out our digital banking capabilities (online, mobile, and tablet)… and those who already use them would do so even more regularly.”
  7. “I wish I could spend 3 hours with our CMO – and have his full attention – to show him how much impact our online and mobile banking efforts have.”
  8. “I wish we could sort through the clutter of mobile wallet vendors and offerings to know which will actually pan out.”
  9. “I wish I could snap my fingers and have great secure site search and intelligent cross-selling on our secure site.”
  10. “a pink pony.”
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