‘It’s Crucial for Banks to Create Fusion of Digital and Physical Experiences’

Given the level of integration mobile technologies have had with our lives, it's critical for businesses to constantly define their digital strategies to maintain customer base and engagement levels.

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then they hope it can be done, then they see it can be done, then it is done and all the world wonders why it wasn’t done before” - Frances Hodgson Burnett (American Novelist & Playwright) The above also holds true with the way banking has evolved in our country. A few decades ago, getting something done at a bank meant a half-day off from work. A simple activity like a cash withdrawal could take anywhere between one to two hours based on the number of customers present and entailed filling up a withdrawal slip, taking a token from the teller, waiting for one’s turn, and then collecting the cash. Today, the same process takes only a few minutes. All it takes is for a customer to walk into an ATM, withdraw the required amount of cash, and collect the withdrawal receipt (if one chooses to). Even cheques and drafts have become obsolete, with the advent of National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Real-time gross settlement (RTGS). One can transfer money, almost instantly to a designated payee. The mobile revolution has now made it possible to perform most banking transactions from the palm of one’s hand with just a few finger taps. Over the past few years, a lot of maturity has set into the mobility space. According to a recent report by Gartner, users have started declaring themselves as ‘satisfied’ with current engagement rates. However, the high level of integration mobile technologies have had with our lives also indicates that businesses will have to constantly define their digital strategies to maintain customer base and engagement levels. Businesses will also have to strive to deliver higher value with each app they deploy and every service they offer. With over 7 billion active mobile connections in the world and trends like the IoT and mobile first gaining prominence, it is obvious that digital transformation is and will continue to be fuelled by mobility services. Since mobility initiatives deal with a whole lot of complexities such as workflow management, secure communication, user entitlements, and seamless integration with backend systems it is important to have platforms that help businesses address these issues. Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADP) enable developers to rapidly build applications based on templatized development models that facilitate enterprise agility, flexibility, and scalability without compromising on data security and backend integration. Based mostly on open source technologies, MADPs help developers to bring out the best features in an app without being bogged down by the limitations of a single proprietary operating system. The increased adoption of mobile technologies in all walks of life has resulted in mobile devices becoming the primary computing device for most people. Furthermore, enterprises are slowly adopting BYOD policies that further emphasize the need of an MADP to deliver custom made mobile applications that are scalable for their businesses. With the MADP market expected to be worth approximately $7 Billion by 2019, they are going to play an integral part in mobilising an enterprise’s digital initiatives. Banks have always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies. Changing customer preferences and expectations have made it mandatory for banks to transform the way they have operated so far. There has also been the arrival of new disruptors who are offering services that were previously offered only by banks. More importantly, these disruptors are offering services at a fraction of the prices banks charge. However, all is not lost for banks. There is a certain amount of trust and security a bank and its branches instil in a customer. What customers really expect is for a bank to offer digital services across multiple channels with a unified user experience. The use of an MADP to address digitization initiatives helps banks stay nimble and agile. Readymade APIs, widgets, and templates in many leading MADPs require zero coding or minimal coding effort in building an app. Also, with every update in an operating system, MADPs are being equipped with the latest features that leverage the best there is to deliver a meaningful and rewarding user experience. A good digital banking solution should facilitate most commonly used transactions such as account inquiries, transfers, bill payments, instant account opening, promotions, and a host of other features that increase customer engagement and improve operational efficiency. It has become imperative that banks transform their services to create a fusion of digital and physical experiences in order to meet challenges and take on disruptors that are slowly offering services that traditionally banks have offered. The transformation process must be designed with the customer at the heart of any digital transformation initiative as it is they who would be the primary customer. In the digital era, powered by social media, customer is king and addressing their needs would be the key for the success of any digital initiative. The growing emphasis on design and user experience has fine-tuned customer expectations to the kind of digital journey they want to embark with a business. Also, while designing interfaces, end users must be given the option to customize user interface to get an experience, look, and feel that resonates with their personalities. The way forward for banks would be to effectively use MADPs to build apps that not only extend legacy services through digital channels but would fuel the necessary transformation that give banks the edge they need to stay ahead of the competition. Sundararajan is the Director, i-exceed Technology Solutions


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