Guest Blogger

JF Sullivan, EVP Enterprise and CMO, Xura

Many consumers in what is an increasingly digital world have lost confidence in how their personal data is protected by financial institutions. With recent research from Deloitte suggesting that ‘trust is the banks’ major asset’, it’s perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that financial service providers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to restore their customers’ faith in their services.

This year saw the dawn of a new age of banking for a “digital-first” generation with the launch of Atom Bank, the first truly mobile-only bank, in April.

Including innovative features such as biometric authentication, using face and voice recognition in place of passwords, the bank’s app is designed to appeal directly to those consumers whose mobile devices are used in practically every aspect of their lives. They are increasingly becoming a norm in our society; the kind of people who rarely, if ever, visit the big banks’ high street branches.

With established names such as HSBC, Nationwide and First Direct all recently introducing voice and fingerprint recognition for their phone and online customers, biometric authentication has never been a hotter topic. Indeed, using biometrics alongside one time passcodes when connecting to mobile banking apps not only increases the strength of authentication, but also improves the ease of the app’s use.

But additional security isn’t all that’s needed. Improved convenience is important too if banks wish to win back their customers’ loyalty, and that has to be part of the discussion when implementing such technology.

Introducing the human element

A recent report by KPMG suggests that there is a real desire from more than half of global banking customers for combined social, personalised and “human” interactions to be integrated into their bank’s mobile and online applications.

Customers are interested in replicating the sort of interactive experience they’ve become accustomed to through using messaging services such as WhatsApp and FaceTime when dealing with their bank.

Fortunately, by employing recent advances in rich communication technology such as WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication), banks are able to deliver an experience that meets their customers’ expectations and suits their lifestyle. And, according to Dean Bubley, lead analyst at Disruptive Analysis, many are already doing so, with “banking, insurance and related sectors…at the forefront of commercial WebRTC adoption already.”

WebRTC technology enables next-generation customer interactions such as instant messaging, video calling and the encrypted sharing of screens and files all in real-time, at the touch of a button, on mobile apps and websites. Features such as these will not only improve the functionality of a bank’s applications, but will also introduce the “human” element desired by its customers.

Furthermore, when this rich communication technology is combined with sophisticated security features such as the increasingly popular biometric authentication techniques, customers will be able to remotely engage with the appropriate bank staff quicker, more conveniently and with an additional element of trust, bypassing the physical branch entirely.

Putting context at the core

By using rich communication technology, a bank is able to put context around the customer at the core of its offering.

When a customer clicks to communicate with his or her bank via their mobile, for example, their identity can be quickly and securely authenticated and their chat, video or voice call routed directly to of the most appropriate member of bank staff who can access the customer’s transaction history or pull any relevant contextual information from the user’s mobile app or web screen. In doing so, any issues and queries can be quickly resolved without requiring the customer to repeat any information.

Putting the customer in touch with the most appropriate member of staff – who has the right information to hand – will allow for faster and easier call resolution as part of a more personal service. This translates to greater peace of mind for the customer, which in turn should lead to increased goodwill and loyalty toward the bank, which also enjoy substantial cost savings.

With more apps and services available than ever before for connecting and communicating with customers, and with more than six billion devices predicted to be WebRTC-capable by 2019, it’s crucial that banks embrace the opportunities presented by the current digital revolution if they hope to build longer-lasting loyalty, trust and customer retention.

Integrating rich communication technology such as WebRTC with increasingly sophisticated biometric authentication techniques will support banks in their drive to improve the way they interact with their customers while, at the same time, improving efficiencies and saving time and money.

All the necessary tools are available. Now that Atom Bank has opened the door to a new way for consumers to interact with their financial service providers, it’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts, and which banks will use these tools to follow their lead.

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