According to recent research, open banking is picking up pace, with 86% of players looking to use open APIs to enable open banking capabilities in the next 12 months
Financial service providers need to carefully evaluate and embrace technology that allows them to improve on their customer experience, experts said on the second day of the Digibank 2020 Summit.
Presented by Khaleej Times, the KSA edition of the event highlighted the role that various technologies such as the cloud have played in transforming the sector.
Omar Malaeb, territory account manager, Nutanix, Saudi Arabia, highlighted the changing nature of the financial services sector in recent years. “There has been lots of transformation within the financial services sector that is driven by growth in the number of new fintech startups. These new companies are launching mobile applications that allow users to save, pay, and invest money with just the click of a button. These capabilities have added more pressure on traditional financial models and pushed them to innovate. The financial industry is constantly reinventing itself and there is a shift towards cloud architecture and other technologies that have created significant disruption in the market.”
Wael Hazzazi, senior systems engineer, Nutanix, Saudi Arabia, spoke about the evolution of cloud from just a technology to a platform to store and access every application and data. He explained that the cloud is responsible for bringing huge amounts of data in one place to create new business and operating models. He also highlighted utilising the cloud for products-as-a-service offerings that help banks improve revenue generation by delivering products to the market with a shorter turnaround.
Carlos Teixeira, global industry principal at Finastra, encouraged institutions to evaluate their current business models and identify a clear strategy to implement open banking. “We see a lot of banks still rely on legacy infrastructure that prevents them from open banking. According to recent research, open banking is picking up pace, with 86 per cent of players looking to use open APIs to enable open banking capabilities in the next 12 months. We are also seeing a huge push towards greater collaboration across various platforms and between players in different fields.”
Maher Adi, sales director of Digital Interaction Solutions at Avaya Saudi Arabia, highlighted how employee experiences are powering customer experiences. “To develop a good customer experience, you have to deliver a good employee experience; happy employees will deliver good services to a happy customer.”
He also talked about how various players are developing a conversational IVR system in order to deliver a contextual customer experience to their clients. “We all know about the static pre-recorded messages which give you menu options when you make a call, but there has been a lot of innovation that is going on in evolving this technology. Today, your interactions sound like you are speaking to another person on the line – sometimes, you can even programme them to have an accent.”
“We are also seeing the technology being combined with voice biometrics for authentication purposes,” he added. “This has really helped call centres to better manage their calls and with transactions.”
While innovation isn’t a new concept for many financial institutions, what has changed dramatically over the past few years has been the pace of innovation, says Khalid Siddiqui, chief information officer at HSBC Saudi Arabia.
“As key industry players, we need to look into becoming more agile because that is what the customer is expecting from us,” he said.
He explained that the banking industry has been adapting to innovation and new technologies for many years now – from ATMs in the 1970s to Internet banking and e-commerce in the 1990s. Most recently, the explosive growth of smartphones and connectivity have brought about a rapid shift towards mobile banking.
HSBC’s approach to financial technology innovations has been to partner with the fintech industry, helping to build a stronger ecosystem and provide superior products and services to customers.
“Most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has put an even greater focus on the importance of innovative digital banking solutions,” he said. “Smartphones have brought customers closer than ever before to their service providers. Customers no longer compare service providers against their direct competitors; they compare each experience with each other. This is new for banks and they have responded by providing personalised, interactive, and instant services available at any time.”