Where Products and Services Get More Innovative

Innovation has become the leitmotif of the global retail banking industry. Changing trends in consumer expectations, competitive dynamics and new technologies are compelling banks everywhere to focus on innovating on everything, from products and processes to channels and business models.
Over the past five years, the BAI – Infosys Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards have recognized and rewarded game changing innovations that are reinventing retail banking. In the process, they also offer an empirical yardstick with which to track the evolution of innovation itself.
Take products and services, for instance. For long, price was the only differentiating feature in what was otherwise a largely commoditized market. But today, product and service innovation has become a key component of the broader digital transformation underway in the industry. That banks are indeed pushing the boundaries of innovation in this space is quite evident from the list of nominees in the products and services category at last year’s awards.
For instance, there was a high interest rate savings account that linked to a customer’s fitness tracker to reward those with an active lifestyle. Then there were product-adjacent service innovations, such as a mobile application that optimized customers’ branch visits based not only on branch proximity but also in-branch waiting time, and a fully integrated and automated personal finance manager (PFM) delivering personalized insights to promote healthy saving and investment behavior. The winner was an app-based service that streamlined bill management and payment. Among its various features were a bill category creation facility, easy bill comparison, easy communication with issuers and a standing order warning system.
While that’s an impressive range of innovations one need only look at the nominees in the same category at this year’s awards to understand how deep the possibilities run.
The 2015 edition features the futuristic two-button technology card from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) that does double duty as credit- and linked-rewards card. The first button on the “CIBC Tim Hortons Double Double Visa Card” allows customers to make payments through Visa. The rewards for those transactions are instantly converted to Tim Horton reward points, which can then be redeemed at any Tim Hortons location by pressing the other button. Or consider the Fidor Smart Current Account, a free bank account that supplements conventional account services with more innovative products and services. An integrated API platform connects the account with an open financial ecosystem that allows customers to choose from a range of products and services not only from the bank but also from the ecosystem of partners.
In the services space, there is the mobile application from digital and mobile-first Bank SMART that truly embodies the spirit of the Eurozone. It is the first to enable borderless banking within the region, enabling customers to unify their finances rather than operate different accounts in different regions. Additionally there is the premium wealth management service, SupremeGold from The Bank of East Asia (BEA) that has been conceptualized to deliver an integrated and personalized digital banking experience. SupremeGold Centers combine advanced digital devices with professional services and capabilities and are situated at locations that mirror the lifestyle of their young and wealthy customers. Finally there is the cloud-based solution for Payments and Treasury from the Desjardins Group that brings a format-agnostic approach for corporate clients to process domestic and cross-border payments from any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The solution transforms any file format into the format required by the receiving bank and also offers an extensive range of payment processing, account management and risk management features.
The upward trend-line between the nominations just a year apart demonstrates the huge opportunity for 360-degree innovation in products and services. More importantly, it captures the urgency with which banks and financial services providers are pursuing that opportunity year on year. For the past five years, pioneering innovators have gathered at the BAI – Infosys Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards to be recognized for their contributions. You should be there too.
Winners and finalists will be recognized by BAI and Infosys Finacle during an awards ceremony at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference & Expo, scheduled October 13-15, 2015, in Las Vegas, NV, USA.

Tracking Mobile Banking Innovation – I

On one side, a premium tablet, a transit app, an enterprise mobility management solution and a wearable phone/locator for kids. On the other, a cellular base station-powered vaccine cold chain, a global mobile education platform, and a mobile money transfer service.
All winners at the Global Mobile Awards 2014, manifesting the dual trajectory of mobility’s evolution in the developed and developing markets, and without question showcasing the virtuosity of mobility to address needs, from the experiential to the existential, right across the pyramid.
So, going forward who will set the course and the pace for mobile innovations – the advanced or the emerging markets? I don’t think it’s even possible to answer that question unequivocally. Instead, let’s examine the current state of mobile innovations from the point of view of banking.
Emerging markets are definitely winning the numbers game, for now. Going by recent reports, developing countries do seem to be taking the lead in promoting non-cash payments. Countries like China, which already boasts a considerably mature payments market with established players like China UnionPay and Alipay, definitely have the potential to surpass non-cash leaders in developed markets. But if current predictions are any indication, the epicenter of the payments market may well shift to developing countries by 2021 when they are expected to account for at least half of the global non-cash market.
The emerging world is the scene for innovation action. According to the latest issue of the annual Innovation in Retail Banking report from EFMA & Infosys, though innovation in banking is emerging as a global priority, countries in emerging markets like Turkey, Poland and Malaysia seem to have a slight edge over their peers in developed markets.
Emerging market companies are also rounding off their focus on organic innovation by building partnerships with companies in developed markets to further strengthen their innovation capabilities. For instance, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company has made an investment of US$ 445 million in German e-commerce incubator Rocket Internet to jointly develop online and mobile payment solutions for developing markets. The stated objective of the partnership is to also eventually roll out their payment innovations across all markets, emerging and developed.
Which neatly sets up my next point that what works for the developing can also work for the developed.
See you on the other side.