May 12, 2021

Frictionless banking, the Salesforce way

Salesforce
Alan Donnelly
santander uk
2 min
The head of financial services at Salesforce talks Santander partnerships and digital engagement with customers

Alan Donnelly has enjoyed a long and successful career in the IT and financial services industry. He has worked with banks, insurers, payments companies, fintechs and more in support of business transformation programmes for some of the biggest names in the business for the past 27 years.

Today, he’s head of financial services for Salesforce UK, the leading global, cloud-based CRM platform that integrates customers and companies. Donnelly is also currently leading the Salesforce operation that is digitally transforming the UK arm of the Madrid-based Santander Group.

“I have had the pleasure of working with many financia

l institutions over many years,” he says. “Typically, it was involved in helping customers build big banking systems and banking platforms that ran what we would call systems of record. But now, as I've moved into Salesforce and we're building our financial services business, we are really now helping our customers engage with their customers.”

The partnership withSantander is a multi channel operation that sees Salesforce helping the bank to engage better with corporate clients and retail customers via their branches and the internet, says Donnelly.

“We're also helping them with customers, who maybe wish to acquire mortgages and mortgages for the life events. I guess it's a multi connectivity environment. But in every case, Santander needs to understand the customer's requirements and better serve those customers in the right time and the right fashion,” Donnelly explains

He adds, “I also think the ability to contact customers whenever they need help and support, as we've seen in the recent pandemic, has proven critical - so I think technology is definitely much more connectable and effective than it was before.”

 

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Jun 17, 2021

Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem

Zafin
Banking
Technology
Digital
3 min
FinTech Magazine holds a Q&A session with John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, on the evolution of banking and its future as an aspect of tech ecosystems

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.

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