Article | May 27, 2021
There is a huge transformation underway in the financial services industry. Over the past year – as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – clients have been forced to take on more of an active role in monitoring and planning for financial uncertainty. But the big change is that these clients have become much more emotionally invested in their organisations’ financial wellbeing. In a time where everything is digital first, it’s no surprise that many clients want to be able to search for answers themselves, escalate issues quickly and receive the support they need to better navigate the uncertain economic landscape, at speed.
Of course, as clients demand a smoother and more fulfilling experience, we’re seeing a shift in how financial services companies manage their business model for success in the long term. Whilst, stereotypically, the financial services industry has been considered ‘old school’, and in many cases still lags behind other industries in the digital transformation race, the pandemic is proof in point that relying on legacy systems is just not an option for the sector anymore.
Thriving during turbulent times
The good news is that many organisations in the sector are already rising to the challenge, adjusting their products and services to meet the needs of customers who might have been struggling through the pandemic themselves.
Siemens Financial, a division of Europe’s largest manufacturing company, for example, moved quickly to scale their service to meet surges in customer needs. The financial arm provides B2B financing solutions to a large client base covering both small businesses and large corporations. When the pandemic struck, while the company was quickly inundated with requests for support, they had the right mindset and tools already in place to keep things running smoothly.
At the onset of the pandemic, the organisation witnessed a 30 percent increase in customer support ticket volumes. Like with all other businesses operating in the service industry, the team were challenged with managing a huge influx in client requests, whilst maintaining their core offering of delivering a personal service to every client. Based on a data-driven decision, the team moved its entire operation online, within 48 hours. In doing so, they were able to respond to new tickets during the peak of the pandemic within just six to seven hours, plus decrease resolution time from 24 hours to little more than eight. What’s more, they quickly moved the entire team to a remote working set up.
Frictionless digital services are paramount to remaining resilient in the face of COVID-19. Of course, for all organisations, this means saying goodbye to those spreadsheets used to track customer data and instead, embracing custom built support solutions providing real-time insights to support businesses in making decisions, at speed.
Investing now, for a successful future
However, for organisations who have more traditionally operated off of old or outdated legacy systems, it can be hard for them to visualise what a more digital way of operating could look like in practice. As you think about the road to recovery, it might therefore be worth considering where to invest first for the best return. For example, according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, 67 per cent of customers are willing to spend more at a company providing them with a good experience. Whilst it may feel like the thriving organisations are the ones investing lots of money into CX technology, it’s clear that investment - or lack thereof - is being felt by customers too.
We’ve reached the digital tipping point - where holding at the status quo will actually put companies further and further behind. It’s about equipping your employees with the right technology, at the right time. We saw that Siemens Financial could keep track of customer conversations remotely, with minimal disruption. This is because the flexible platform they used to keep track of the customer experience provided their service agents with a 360 view of all clients’ prior interactions with the team. For example, whether they’ve used WhatsApp, the phone, or email to communicate with the brand, for customer experience agents using an omnichannel platform, the conversation looks the same.
Article | July 27, 2020
Sales cycles for smaller teams had long been changing, even before a global pandemic transformed everything about the way that businesses and customers interact. In response to an increasingly digital customer base, teams have adjusted not only how they communicate, but where they advertise and how they manage leads. And many of these changes have actually left them better prepared to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, even as they face layoffs, fewer conversions, and increased customer churn.
Article | April 15, 2021
Open Banking is all about the customer being in control of their data and funds. It gives them the freedom and flexibility to decide when and with whom to share their valuable information. However, as with all vibrant and progressive ecosystems, speed, security, and ease of use will determine open banking’s future success along with the key issue of trust. Will the end user trust people to share data with them and trust their banks to still protect their data?
PSD2 Open Banking gives Payment Service Users (PSUs) the legal right to share their transactional account data with regulated third party providers (TPPs). For this to be possible, the 6,000+ Financial Institutions providing transactional payment accounts that can be accessed online have to put in place open banking APIs. These APIs give TPPs the access required to either make payments on an account holder’s behalf or view account data and funds, both of which require the account holder’s prior explicit consent. Access can only be denied if a TPP is believed to be unauthorised or fraudulent.
Open banking regulation has given rise to a new group of FinTechs who are seizing the opportunity to create innovative apps and products with the customer at the core of the offering. At the end of 2019, 240 TPPs from across the EEA and UK were regulated to provide open banking services. A year later, this figure had increased to 450 (excluding the thousands of credit institutions that are also able to act in the capacity of TPPs). The near doubling of newly regulated entities demonstrates user demand for the innovative products and services that these organisations are offering – it is now down to trust and security in the ecosystem, along with ease of use, to drive volumes.
The ability for TPPs, many of whom may be unknown to these Financial Institutions, to request immediate access to valuable data and funds presents many challenges and risks – all of which must be addressed without introducing potential friction in the customer journey. The main challenges are knowing if a TPP is who it claims to be and whether it is regulated to provide the services being requested at the time of the transaction request. After all, these are the key factors enabling the bank to trust the TPP and feel confident the end user can trust them. The added difficulty of knowing which markets within the EEA a TPP is authorised to operate in is an additional challenge.
Financial Institutions have long been the trusted guardians of their customers’ data and funds. Although the open banking model means the customer now has ultimate control of their data, it is still primarily the Financial Institution’s responsibility to ensure nothing goes wrong and they are likely to be held liable in any disputes that arise. There is also the very real reputational risk to Financial Institution if something does go wrong.
Checking a TPP’s identity, its current regulated status, and the services it is requesting to perform are essential but not easy tasks to complete in that, firstly, a Financial Institution needs to determine whether a TPP is who it claims to be. This is done by having real-time access to the 70+ Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSPs) who can issue PSD2 eIDAS certificates. These eIDAS certificates contain the requisite information on a TPP’s identity and are used to secure communications between Financial Institutions and TPPs. They also digitally seal messages, ensuring the integrity of the concept and proof of origin.
However, an eIDAS certificate can have up to a two-year validity period. During this time, changes may have been made to a TPP’s regulatory authorisation status by its Home National Competent Authority (NCA). This introduces significant risk to the Financial Institution’s decision process.
eIDAS certificates also do not contain information on the countries a TPP is authorised to provide their products and services into under passporting rules. This information is held on the TPP’s Home NCA Credit Institution and Payment Service Provider (PSP) registers. Between them, the 31 NCAs maintain over 115 databases and registers. Checking them at the time of a transaction request is paramount to prevent fraudulent TPPs from slipping through the net.
According to the Konsentus Q4 2020 TPP tracker, every country in the EEA had at least 75 TPPs who could provide open banking services. These may not all be Home regulated TPPs. Take, for instance, Germany, who had 35 Home Regulated TPPs in December 2020 but an additional 112 TPPs who could passport in their services. To do the requisite due diligence on all these TPPs would require having online access to all the databases and registers hosted by the NCAs regulating these TPPs. This means connecting to the 31 NCAs and interrogating over 115 separate registers in real-time, in addition to connecting with all the QTSPs who issue PSD2 eIDAS certificates.
When a Financial Institution is presented with an eIDAS certificate by a TPP, if a real-time online connection can be made to all the legal sources of record, the Financial Institution can make an instant informed risk management decision on whether, or not, to give the TPP access. All this can be done behind the scenes without the end user even being aware of what is happening.
As volumes look to dramatically increase over the next few years fraudulent and other sorts of attacks are bound to increase. Financial institutions are going to face increasing challenges around protecting end users’ data, ensuring access is only given to those with the appropriate authorisations and permissions. A very real risk for them is the reputational one; after all, end users may not be that good at separating a reputational issue around open banking from broader issues around their banking relationship.
For Financial Institutions, maintaining trust in their brands is going to be crucial going forward, but the risks are going to increase if they have not locked down who can access end user account data and funds.
Article | April 15, 2020
Taxes, especially in the U.S., can be anxiety-inducing not only for consumers but also for small businesses. And even though this year’s tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15, the filing and payment requirements remain unchanged.
“The daunting task of gathering documents for a year that has passed is one that is difficult for small business owners, especially when they already feel overwhelmed at tax time,” said Lil Roberts, CEO and founder of Xendoo. “Coupling that pain point with small businesses feeling that federal tax is a “black box” and understanding how to maximize tax savings is also extremely frustrating.”