Hyper-connectivity as the primary driver of growth – Day 3 insights from Backbase Connect

Success in today’s industry begins with openness, this was the over-riding theme during Day 3 of Backbase Connect. Jouk Pleiter reflected on open banking, the hyper-connectivity within today’s industry and concepts such as the network economy, noting how an organization does not grow in the traditional way anymore. By being connected to everyone and using open APIs to drive traffic to their platform, everyone moves faster together. Organic growth simply does not look like it did before as companies increasingly connect to others, filling in any capability gaps and fast-tracking their growth.

This open network approach is not just the domain of new, innovative up-starts either. Microsoft took up the mantle the day CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed; “Microsoft loves Linux”. He broke the mould there and that saw Microsoft’s share price shoot up.

While opening up is the way to go, a heavy-handed approach must be avoided however. Open APIs need to be handled in a way that allows a company to glean the benefits of the network. Getting the balance wrong could result in a generous giveaway of customer data, leading ultimately to the demise of a brand. You can be flexible with business models, but owning the customer experience layer is critical and any API strategy should consolidate the relationship with your customer. This was the key take away from the morning.

PSD2 and what it will bring

The discussion moved to PSD2 and how it offers unprecedented access to accounts and flexible payments. It gives users the power to select payment methods at will, and by connecting systems, creates a wealth of information that’s perfect for data mining. PSD2 is a key focus area for Backbase, and while it’s a must in Europe, it will also make its way to other continents. In fact, countries such Australia and Canada are already talking about it. Aside from facilitating entry to the open marketplace and compliance, open APIs offer some serious first mover advantages. ABN AMRO’s Tikki application is a good example of how successful this can be.

Security in a world of open APIs

Whilst there is a need to open up, some of the traditional concerns still apply. Henk Brunt or Backbase noted that despite our increasingly open banking world, we still need to approve transactions, control access and undertake due diligence, both in our personal and business banking lives. Third party access is not a free-for-all. A small businesses, for example, must provide view only rights for their accountants, inter-company permissions must still be set, and the list goes on. These valid needs create friction and the processes behind them are ripe for automation. Henk outlined how Backbase Entitlements offers all transaction related functionality, simplifying this entire process.

The cloud and the future

It’s not possible to take systems down to deploy anymore, people are used to 24/7 availability from Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Updates, the addition of services, scaling up and down – all must have zero impact on the UX. Backbase have seen that flexibility and speed of deployment are often the main reasons for investing in the cloud, and an uninterrupted experience is vital also.

Chris Whitcombe of Backbase noted that up to 2025, investment in cloud technologies will grow. Full adoption will take a few years, so Backbase plan to support the industry in this change over the coming decade.

Winning with process digitization

A fantastic front end needs the support of a smart back end. There’s no point to getting re-targeting right if the process flow causes customer abandonment. Frictionless experiences, business agility, and a model driven approach are the building blocks that allow for the provision of excellent experiences, time and again. Jelmer de Jong of Backbase noted how process digitization not only saves customers from falling out of the process, it saves on processing costs. The customer should be able to start a process online, and through supports such as dynamic case management, reach their goal in a seamless way.

ABN AMRO connects the dots with process digitisation

ABN AMRO have striven for a situation where no human interaction is needed for customers to fill in forms. Calculators help them assess prices and make purchase decisions. Regulatory obligations are fulfilled through dynamic case management, which flow in line with the input of the customer. T&Cs get signed off and uploaded and a thank you page appears at the end of the process. Simple and effective.

Generic components found throughout the ABN website drive this simplicity. To get to that point however, ABN AMRO had to overcome some challenges along the way. A new skill set was required among staff for a new way of working. Getting people to work with standardized forms, and the mass updating of those forms brought real challenges. Fitting a new solution into the organization’s IT landscape was also no easy task, yet they persevered, with impressive results.

Business banking, mobile and roadmaps

Pim Koorn of Backbase demonstrated what happens when the sophistication more often seen in retail banking is brought to business banking. For today’s business customer, clear layouts, intuitive functionality and having the complete picture at their fingertips are hygiene factors. Business banking is essentially getting easier to do. Niels Mouthaan of Backbase also provided some interesting insights into mobile, noting how Backbase provide 150 million users access to their financial data. A strong platform, supported by reusable widgets delivers uniform customer experiences across all touch points, automating everything and eliminating duplication. This is the direction that mobile banking is going.

Overcoming the omni-channel hurdles

As a mid-sized New York bank, Sterling National had to rise to the challenge of delivering proper omni-channel capabilities for their clients. Their vision was to have a single point of contact for clients. As they grew through acquisition, they also wanted to shelter customers from any impact of integrating new subsidiaries. In introducing new experiences, they knew it was not possible to compromise on what a bank should offer in terms of simplicity and security, yet keeping all of this together is not easy. With the support of Backbase they delivered the one point of contact they wanted, moved towards a more open access model and re-thought the architecture as part of their digital journey.

All in all, an incredible 3 days in Amsterdam. Backbase Connect was fully-subscribed, highly praised and a resounding success. If 2017 is anything to go by, 2018 will have a lot to offer.