BNL and Vodafone collaborate on ‘the bank of the future’
Spread across five years, Vodafone will be supplying BNL with mobile technology to enhance staff-customer communications, as well as upgrading its network infrastructure with new 5G capabilities.
Furthermore, the duo will jointly explore fresh applications of mobile tech within finance, such as wireless ATMs, video services and usage of augmented/virtual reality. Ultimately, the endeavour will strive to deliver a more engaging experience that is suitable for the digital era.
Technology: improving banking
The capacity for digital technology to drive financial inclusion and improve corporate agility are ; a study conducted by Vodafone Business itself found that 79% of those surveyed identified it as a vital strength for staying ‘future proof’.
“BNL is putting digital at the heart of its long-term strategy to build a responsible, sustainable and accessible bank,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO, Vodafone Business.
“This makes BNL part of a forward-thinking group of companies that see technology as a core part of creating a successful business and their contribution to building a digital society. We look forward to partnering with them on that journey and supporting BNL to deliver new services that benefit customers, employees and the wider world.”
Saverio Ferraro, CIO at BNL, stated that the bank’s desire for digital transformation extends far beyond the company, rather it is a defining vision for society at large.
“There’s a need for innovative solutions that support mobility and sustainability at the same time and that can strengthen trust between banks and their customers. Digital collaboration tools and technologies are a daily need and the last few months have made this even clearer.
“At BNL we want to accelerate our digital evolution for our colleagues and customers. That’s why we have built a five future-proofing year programme with Vodafone Business. Creating a digital-first culture is essential for us. We are also very proud of having sustainability at the heart of everything we do as part of our .”
Changing the experience
BNL-Vodafone’s mission to change the banking experience is well-timed: as counterpart banks in the UK the popularity of their in-branch experience post-COVID-19, exploring new, digitally-infused options appears to interpret a general shift in consumer preference.
“Traditional banks must now recognise that sticking to their old ways is no longer an option. In the world of banking, tradition has moved on,” commented Alex Kwiatkowski, Principal Industry Consultant, Global Banking Practice, .
“Convenience, ease of use and the ability to control your finances at the tap of a screen: this is what customers now consider to be normal.”
Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.