As the world’s banks and financial institutions continue to impact the flow of money, this industry is a hotbed for introducing some of the biggest technologies to the fore – especially by banking software companies. From cloud support services to AI, much has abounded here. Furthermore, as more organisations retain remote and contactless methods of conducting business transactions, financial institutions are also following suit, owing to the many benefits that can be availed as customers function with little to no assistance.
Banks and a variety of financial institutions (such as smaller leasing companies) have come far and beyond their corporate-oriented position of yesteryear, where core responsibilities revolved around safeguarding a multitude of financial assets and facilitating transactions of the same between multiple entities. Instead, financial establishments today are attractive options for consumers to obtain a variety of additional products and services, such as instant loans and rewards programs. This heightens the stakes for many players in the industry, as a lucrative market subsequently attracts more competitors, to vie for the same consumer base.
As a result, every leading software development company is constantly being challenged in order to adapt and scale to shifting demands – be it in the economy, or based on consumer preferences. By being a dedicated AWS partner, software development companies have much more leverage to scale efficiently and on time – thereby making any last-minute demand a possibility. With development teams now on their toes to ensure any demands are met consistently and punctually, banking businesses require a fair level of foresight through data in order to build strategies that can maximise future opportunities.
As business intelligence and analytics tools spearhead these insights, what is it that banks and other financial institutions have the scope to focus on, in order to deliver and impress their customers? Here are some of the biggest constituents of banking software – and how they benefit the industry overall. While many are existing technologies, they constantly need to be monitored in the interests of DevOps and systematic scaling, so your customers always have access to banking products and services that are within reach, and reliable.
Being one of the biggest components in the digital banking portfolio, online banking offers a key connection to your business, at the hands of your customers. By enabling your customers to conduct a variety of transactions (such as money transfers, bill payments, and even account opening in some cases), a sense of autonomy is created as banks need to attend to fewer customers in person. Contact centres can also experience a reduced load, as more customers now have access to a dedicated online messaging service that attends to any inquiries or complaints.
International payments have also been made easier via online banking, as banking codes are available with a single click or tap. With online banking being a common service that is offered by most banks around the world, this is one trend that is here to stay – and keeps many software outsourcing companies quite occupied owing to continuous demand. Furthermore, customers can bank even while on the go thanks to dedicated mobile apps, with sister functionalities such as electronic passbooks offering real-time transaction updates.
As the consumer realm retains autonomy in the name of self-service, banking businesses are now encouraging customers to conduct many transactions which would otherwise require the assistance of a teller (such as the deposit of hard cash) via specialised kiosks. Cash deposit machines are a great example, as they can now offer easy deposit services 24 hours a day, at the tap of a button. Other self-service kiosks serve as ideal hubs for customer information, with AI-powered chatbots guiding customers towards the right information – or connecting them with a human agent for complex quandaries. With conversational AI being a prominent factor in Customer Experience (CX) nowadays, chatbots can also gauge customer sentiments through Natural Language Processing (NLP).
As chatbots continue to learn from the data obtained with each customer interaction, these repositories continue to be valuable sources of insight that can also contribute to other departments within the organisation, such as marketing, product development, and even the overall quality of customer service. With more business services now leaning towards workflow automation (which is often backed by AI and machine learning), self-service banking kiosks have already begun to replace human agents as the first (and prime) customer touchpoint across numerous organisations around the globe.
Although virtual wallets and payment gateways are prevalent technologies, the past few years have witnessed an explosion in fintech start-ups that aim to offer the very same. One primary reason for such disruption is the dependence on smart devices by mass consumers, which has created an increased demand for such services, in turn. As the market becomes replete with options that make consumers spoilt for choice, fintech brands compete with numerous strategies which range from discounts to cashback rewards. As a result, fintech companies not only emphasise agile software development but also remain hyper-focused on social media and other digital media platforms, in order to attract customers to their products.
While virtual wallets combine the functionalities of a bank account and a credit/debit card, they can also be a default offering within leading e-commerce websites – thereby further incentivizing their use. Coupled with customer loyalty programs, virtual wallet companies create a sense of monopoly within the boundaries of a niche (yet leading) online retailer, in order to circumvent monopolies caused on a more macro level by competitors. Of course, no online transaction is possible without a payment gateway, which banks generally provide to e-commerce platforms in exchange for a fee. While payment gateways are an incumbent banking technology, cybersecurity continues to be a major variable that determines its level of trust – thereby keeping software development companies that specialise in banking applications, on constant alert in order to prevent any cyber-attacks, and remediate lest they happen.
Irrespective of industry, both UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) and CX are key components of a customer-centric business strategy. Banking establishments are no exception, as contact centres and digital user journeys alike aim to create seamlessness – especially with multiple communication channels now available for the typical customer. As its name suggests, UCaaS aims to ‘unify’ all customer touchpoints, by bringing interactions across multiple channels into one central location. Therefore, whether a customer contacts via phone, SMS, email, or Facebook, all interactions are recorded in one master profile – so that agents have all the information they need when said customer reaches out again, without having to toggle between multiple applications instead, to search for specific bits of data.
In turn, this can drastically reduce the need to ask customers for information that they would’ve already provided before, reducing redundancy and downtime on the part of agents – and frustration on the part of customers. Unifying customer touchpoints in such a manner can offer a massive boost in the quality of CX. This can be particularly beneficial for the banking industry, as customers may often reach out in case of an emergency, with sentiments already flying high, and time being of essence (especially in the case of lost/stolen cards, and identity theft).
With many banking and lending institutions now offering a plethora of consumer products, this shift has led to the rise of more B2C models also being incorporated within the finance industry – as opposed to traditional banking business models which only focused on a fraction of its portfolio towards personal banking. Credit card offers are some of the biggest constituents of customer rewards and loyalty programs, with many cards being affiliated with leading retailers, airlines, and hospitality partners to further incentivize spending. Seasonal discounts are another area with massive potential, as banks gear up to offer discounts with both online and offline retailers during major holidays such as Christmas.
All of these require loyalty management applications that can operationalize every record, workflow, and quandary that arises in the entire process. Being a component that is majorly customer-focused, loyalty management systems will likely have to be integrated with other inter-departmental banking applications such as the call centre, and with the proprietary systems of merchant outlets that have been collaborated with.
Another finance-facing application that requires rewards/discount/loyalty management capabilities is point-of-sale (POS) software. As individual merchants create campaigns to attract customers to their business, their POS software can be the central source for logging transactions, calculating discounts, recording customer data, and offering insights into revenue and profits. POS software connects over to accounting software, in turn, as general ledgers, reconciliations, accounts receivables/payables, and invoice processing also need to be carried out alongside regular and discounted transactions.
With the banking industry being a prime target for cyber attackers, financial institutions are constantly under extreme pressure to keep their networks safeguarded. With cybersecurity software spanning wide owing to a multitude of applications available, knowing which components are most relevant for your business is a decision that needs to be made following stringent assessments with various teams (particularly IT). One cybersecurity component that is of prime importance is Identity & Access Management (IAM), which includes capabilities such as password security, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), and parameter-based policy enforcements.
With digital banking portals being leading touchpoints for customers, preventing unauthorised access by means of phishing or spoofing are vital to preserving customer data and funds – and the organisation’s reputation, as a result. Round-the-clock threat management by means of an external yet dedicated Security Operations Centre (SOC) can further bolster your digital network perimeters, by continuously monitoring everything from website URLs, to servers. Take your cybersecurity practices several notches higher by being proactive through penetration testing and red teaming, with ‘ethical hacking’ exercises carried out to identify any security loopholes – so they can be fixed before a malicious attacker reaches them.
Owing to the high level of risk involved when conducting transactions and preserving financial assets, organisations specialising in banking services are heavily regulated in order to ensure no oversight takes place. With regulations being imposed on state, federal, and even international levels, the right tools need to be in place for assisting auditors with comprehensive policy enforcement. Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) platforms are an all-encompassing suite of applications that can integrate with financial systems to carry out a variety of services which include (but aren’t limited to) auditing, data management, and privacy monitoring.
While most established financial institutions will benefit from an end-to-end GRC platform, the finance-facing departments of other corporate organisations can make use of individual compliance management tools that are custom integrated with other inter-departmental applications. One such finance-facing business unit is payroll; falling under the umbrella of both HR and accounting, payroll software needs to be adept at paying salaries and calculating taxes as per state, federal, and even international regulations. Although many payroll software vendors nowadays offer inbuilt compliance capabilities depending on the region and organisation is located in, they may sometimes incur an additional fee.
Banking applications have come far from the initial legacy systems from times gone by, which were confined to a local network and were only used by staff. Now, fintech is a thriving sector, while digital banking apps provide users the autonomy to self-serve. From cashback rewards to instant loan approval, the finance industry of today has become more B2C than ever before, thereby placing greater emphasis on personal banking services. All these offerings are now made possible by digital applications (which are often SaaS) through custom integrations with other inter-departmental software, so workflows can be automated and no data falls through the cracks.
Which set of applications will be relevant for a financial institution greatly depends on what the organisation specialises in – and how these offerings can be best served to customers digitally. Conducting a business assessment is the first step toward identifying the unique needs of any financial business, so the right applications can be sourced to operationalise a banking product or service that is customer-centric on the outside, and scalable behind the scenes.