As of now, Bangladesh has over 117 million mobile phone subscribers. The country has been seeing an unprecedented growth in smartphone penetration over the past few years, thanks to cheap Chinese handset brands. Internet penetration has also been experiencing rapid growth. We have now over 65 million internet users. Digital is becoming an indispensable part of everyday life of a growing number of population and rapidly changing how we communicate, consume, shop and transact. This change has implications for a wide variety of industries. And banking is one of them.
Banking is an over-regulated industry and expensive one to innovate in and has a history of fending off disruption. But a digital future is slowly gaining momentum. Today, a growing number of people are receiving their banking and financial service through internet and mobile. This trend will only grow in the future. The extraordinary rise of mobile banking and other FinTech services give us a glimpse of that future.
In fact, a slow but steady shift towards technology adoption is gathering pace. An increasing number of banks are now waking up to the reality that technology is eating the world and in order to survive and thrive, they also have to move fast.
One reason for that is the scale of potential time, hassle, and cost savings. A great internet banking experience offers unparallel convenience to customers who can conduct their banking activities sitting at home or office than commuting to a physical branch every time braving notorious Dhaka traffic.
This trend is already picking up. A McKinsey survey suggests that in emerging Asia, more than 50 percent of consumers said they were willing to shift some of their holdings to a bank that offers a compelling digital proposition. The number is over 80% for developed Asian markets.
Similarly, a strong digital wing offers potential cost-savings for banks. A seamless internet banking service not only improves customers experience but also saves money by significantly reducing the number of people visiting your branch ultimately reducing the number of queues and need for other management costs of a branch.
A great digital banking experience
Despite all the upsides of having a great digital banking service, it is hard to come from an internet banking service that offers excellent user experience in Bangladesh. Most of the services are not either good enough or outright subpar resulting in slow to minimum user adoption.
However, this is not an uncommon problem given that designing an internet banking service with great mobile experience is an intricate and a meticulous job. It requires a deep understanding of the technology as well as design to build an internet banking experience that works and delights your customers.
We recently spoke to a number of experts, industry insiders, and internet banking users to build a checklist that can help you to navigate the complex process of designing an internet and mobile banking experience for your bank. There are about seven aspects that any digital banking experience should have. Before checklist, here is a list of major purposes people use digital banking:
Internet banking is a supremely sensitive service. Naturally, security should be the first thing on your mind while designing such a service. Everything, from coding to design, should be designed to ensure maximum security. “When we developed City Touch mobile banking solutions for The City Bank we applied our years of experience of working in the international market into it,” says Raisul Kabir, CEO, Brain Station 23, “as a result when they launched the final product it emerged as a robust system”. You should make sure that your codes are not vulnerable to hacking or any security threat. At the same time, the system should be resilient enough to fend off and outsmart external threats.
It would be even better if you verify your security mechanism after development through a third party verification authority. The City Bank has verified their City Touch through PCI DSS, an internet banking security certification authority.
Mobile is a different environment. The way people use mobile is materially different from how they use desktop or laptop or any other device for that matter. When you are designing your internet banking experience you should not design the same thing for both the web and mobile. You should design a mobile app that is programmed for maximizing the mobile experience.
This is important because mobile is eating Bangladesh. A growing number of people are now relying on mobile phones for consuming varieties of services. This is more so for us as a mobile-first nation where mobile phone penetration is significantly higher than laptop or desktop penetration. According to recent data, 80% of Standard Chartered Bank’s online banking users use it through mobile phones. When designing your internet banking system, design an app for the purpose of mobile banking and make it a native mobile platform.
Simple and intuitive
The service has to be simple and easy to use. Many of the internet banking services that we have are quite complex to use for security reasons. In order to ensure better security, banks often make it too complex to use resulting in the slow and minimum adaptation of the service.
While designing the solution you have to remember that most people who will use your internet banking service are regular people with minimum or no tech background and it should be easy and intuitive for them to use.
Instead of taking your users through a complex password saving system which is a hassle and difficult to remember every time, you can use fingerprint system to allow basic access to the account where one can see balance and avail basic functionality and then make the security system progressively difficult.
For instance, for a regular transaction you may ask for password and OTP and then for an unusual or big transaction, you may ask for further security questions. “We have helped The City Bank to develop a two-step and progressively complex security system that ensures ease of use as well as highest security,” says Raisul Kabir.
The service should also understand the needs of your users. For example, money transfer is a common function that everyone needs. What if your internet banking can do the job in an intuitive way and send money to a friend in only 30 seconds, making it easy to repay someone for expenses after an event or vacation or schedule a payment every month or week or pre-schedule payment for a loan.
Or imagine being able to pay all the bills directly from your bank account. Or what if your digital banking account gives your access to popular payment services and more. These are some areas that will significantly improve user experience and service adoption.
Flexible and agile
Any good technology is ever evolving. This is equally applicable to your internet banking service. It has to evolve frequently to meet the changing demand of your customers as well as your expectations.
At the same time, a great internet banking service is an excellent marketing and communication tool for your bank. You should be able to modify it according to your need and needs of your customers.
For instance, you want to add a new service or want to get a message out to your internet banking users or test a new offer or feature, the service should be designed in a way that allows you to make small changes easily without much hassle.
But the challenge with the many existing internet and mobile banking services is that it comes with core banking tech for free. When your internet banking system comes along with your core banking as something free, it becomes really hard to update, change and improve as you go.
An internet banking system is a customer facing service. It is more like taking your branch online that people can visit through mobile app or web. First of all, it should be able to impress people as well it should remain up to date with most recent information, offers and changes. Otherwise, a very effective marketing tool through which you could offer new services and promotions and features ends up as a waste.
Listen to your customers
Any good technology is about users not about the technology itself. When designing your internet banking solution you should start with your users and then build from there to the final product.
Most people want a beautiful piece of software or app regardless of whether users would love it or not. Instead of taking the risk, the best way is to open a feedback loop when designing the product so that you can get constant feedback from users.
We are living in the age of great personalization. Technology has enabled us to understand the taste of individual users and cater to that taste. An internet banking service is your opportunity to interact with your customers very personally which is almost impossible in a branch setting. While this creates some new challenges, it also offers an unprecedented opportunity to customize your service according to the needs and demands of individual users. Digital can turn the customer journey into something very personalized.
For instance, usefulness, meaning making most important things easy and clear, can be the most important feature to a customer. Your service should focus on that for that particular customer. To another customer, it is new offers and other relevant services such as bill payment, online ticketing, discounts etc, that are important. And another user wants to support and advice to better use the service. Your system should be able to provide support in the language of the customer.
Superior personalized experience can unlock a sea of potentials. That’s why you should design an intelligence system and keep the importance of customization in mind.
A holistic service takes all the small details into consideration. See the image above that illustrates why people use online banking, it portrays a host of reasons. Customers might want even more options.
So it is important that you design a holistic solution and don’t leave out something important that is critical for overall product experience. Designing a comprehensive solution means you not only think about security or features alone, you also take design and usability seriously. While you consider adding relevant services into the product, you also allow your users' freedom to customize their experience to a certain extent. For instance, a user doesn't want to receive promotional offers from your system, he/she should be able to opt out.
Comprehensiveness also entails a way for the users to develop a clear understanding of the product easily. The major distinction point between a comprehensive product and one that is not is that a holistic product looks complete and well rounded while an incomprehensive one looks haphazard and can’t offer full benefits.
Banking is going through a significant change. As McKinsey reports, there is a digital battle going on that banks must win. A host of new disruptors is taking over small services like payment to fund transfer to billing to even deposits. On the other hand, customer demands and expectations are growing. They want more convenience and benefits and more digital options.
In order to sustain this shift banks must embrace digital transformation. As a Mckinsey article suggests, “each bank must reflect on its evolution along the digital-banking continuum: from mobile payments to a unified access strategy for all channels, and, ultimately, a consolidated digital platform to manage and deliver the full range of financial services. This reflection will necessarily span the entire organization, from front-end commercial activities to back-end technology and operations and across all business silos.” This is not only about an internet banking service, this is a complete and comprehensive digital banking experience.