When it comes to digitization, corporate banking has traditionally lagged behind retail banking. Yet, several factors over the years have spurred a greater focus on innovation and digital transformation in this space. Ever since the 2008 banking crisis, there has been far more emphasis on minimizing NPAs through a stricter regulatory framework. A growing breed of fintechs has brought in new, innovative offerings that have added to the competition – putting pressure on both topline and bottom-line growth for traditional banks. A difficult macro-economic environment has added the strain.
On the other hand, with the proliferation of technology across enterprises of all sizes and sectors, corporate banking customers have been vocal in their push for more convenience, smoother transactions, and a better experience overall. They demand and expect their banks to provide the same experience that they are now accustomed to in their retail banking transactions.
All these factors have led to a digital transformation drive and innovations in customer experience, process simplification, and efficiency. In the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a greater sense of urgency to this transformation effort as enterprises grapple with a completely new environment with social distancing becoming the new normal. As businesses come to terms with the quantum of change and limp back towards normalcy, banks have a unique opportunity to support their customers and ease their pain.
There have been some impressive efforts by banks in terms of digitizing their offerings over the last year. When we had invited our digital banking community to nominate their breakthrough innovations for our annual Infosys Finacle Client Innovation Awards in January 2020, the response was overwhelming and impressive. We received 300 nominations from banks across eight award categories – the highest ever in the history of this awards program.
Specifically, on corporate banking, we saw that banks that have prioritized comprehensive digital transformation stand to have a competitive edge over their peers. Below, I’ve presented some key observations and trends in corporate banking garnered from studying these award entries.
While corporate banking customer seek a retail-like experience, their needs and priorities are very different from those of retail customers. Therefore, solutions tailored to their needs, whether it is enabling seamless international payments or timely payroll processing are extremely valuable. We saw a huge focus on redesigning the channel experience for corporate customers.
One great example was Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank UK, which was a winner in the Corporate Banking Digitization category for large banks. To cater to the expectations of the millennial workforce of its corporate customers, the bank added self-serve capabilities, friendly and intuitive workflows, and emphasized on a best-in-class transaction experience. For instance, it greatly simplified payments by presenting users with an accurate visual map of the steps involved in the payment process.
In the face of a sluggish lending environment and shrinking margins, we found that several banks invested in modernizing their legacy infrastructure, enabling straight-through processing, and bringing in process automation.
We had banks that enabled its corporate customers to originate and complete several complex transactions digitally – something that was earlier available only to retail customers. These initiatives also ensured an omnichannel experience that is seamless across devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops.
Banks are focusing on easing the corporate banking experience through a single application that enables self-servicing capabilities for customers without the need to go to a physical branch. For instance, ICICI Bank, which was also a winner in the Corporate Banking Digitization category, launched InstaBZIZ for its MSME and self-employed customers featuring several products and services that are being offered for the first time on a digital platform in India.
Another area of focus has been portals catering to supply chain and trade-finance clients. These portals enable corporate banking customers to submit all trade requests such as letters of credit, guarantees, and trade loan requests online. This translates to reduced paperwork and shorter turnaround time. These services are even more valuable today as customers and bank employees alike are forced to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current environment may have forced corporate banks to significantly accelerate their digital transformation journeys as they empower their customers to function seamlessly in the new normal. These investments will, however, bring massive gains in efficiency and engagement – saving hundreds of manhours for both banks and clients.
We announced the winners of the Corporate Banking Innovation category of Infosys Finacle Client Innovation Awards as part of a Webinar series. If you would like to hear from three of the winners on how they are rethinking the corporate banking experience, do tune in at the link below: https://www.edgeverve.com/finacle/client-innovation-awards-2020/#3_webinar