FinovateFall 2020: Dealing with a new digital normal
The financial services industry has seen a monumental shift towards digital services over the past year in reaction to the “new normal”. FinTech Futures speaks to Tracy Schlabach, Accusoft senior manager for product and customer marketing, about just how far the digital change is reaching.
FinTech Futures: What major changes have you seen in the industry since the COVID-19 pandemic?
Tracy Schlabach: With the pandemic, we have seen conversations in the financial industry shift to centre around a contactless banking concept. This concept allows customers to be able to take advantage of banking options that were previously only available in a branch of the bank in-person.
In addition, this concept also allows employees to maintain a remote work-from-home status while securely accessing and viewing customer data as well as providing sales and support services to the client.
With the contactless banking concept, financial institutions are reaching out and looking for integrations that would allow them to quickly adapt to this new environment.
FF: Has a sudden shift toward a remote and digital-first ecosystem been a shock to banks and financial institutions (FIs)?
TS: What we are seeing is that the remote workforce mentality was the larger shock for the financial institutions. Especially some of the larger legacy banks that have complex and aged solutions for maintaining client information.
The issue the banks had to address was quickly creating a way to enable their workforce to remote into databases while maintaining client data security that financial regulations demand. In addition, they have had to quickly develop processes and portals allowing their employees to securely receive needed documents from the client and import the data from those documents into the company database.
On the client-side, I would not say it is a shock for them as much as it has hastened the migration to paperless as well as speeding up digital-first client offerings. Most institutions have had these concepts on their roadmap, as increasing customer demand has been driving the need for easy access to account information and banking products.
Some financial institutions in the past couple of years have had this as a larger priority as they see the value of this as a differentiator in the market. Others who were taking a more moderate approach, are pulling these roadmap items in, prioritising new features and functionalities that support the digital-first ecosystems.
FF: What small-scale pressures might fall through the cracks as banks and FIs look to react to changes in the industry?
TS: As with any technology-driven change, there are always items that can fall through the cracks. Financial institutions to move quickly must also maintain caution to not skip critical steps in the implementation and testing process.
FF: Are these changes good for consumers at the end of the day? Has the situation pushed even the slowest firms towards innovation?
TS: With the pandemic forcing everyone to re-evaluate how they engage with consumers, financial institutions are having to reimagine the customer experience. They are being forced to find ways of servicing the needs of the consumers without requiring an in-person experience. Having a personal touch with financial advisors, loan officers, branch managers, and customer service personnel is not going to go away.
FF: Are there integrations that would assist financial institutions to go-to-market with a digital-first solution more quickly?
TS: Banks and FIs building out applications to accommodate a digital-first approach have to leverage technology to capture data from documents and form as well as provide a secure document viewing experience.
These banks and FIs can look to integrate data capture and programmatic conversion software development toolkits (SDK) to solve for the capture of data from unstructured documents and semi structured forms, as well as convert those files into a single standardised file format. By integrating these toolkits, software developers at financial institutions don’t have to build and maintain all the libraries required to process the different file formats customers could be using to submit documents electronically.
This allows the developers to focus on the user experience features of the new application and leave the heavy lifting of maintaining and updating over 100s of file libraries to companies like Accusoft. In addition to document capture and conversion, banks and financial institutions can leverage an HTML5 viewer application programming interface (API) that when integrated into their application allows both the employees and the customer to view documents securely inside their application without losing control of the original document.
When employees have to email documents to the customer, those documents are downloaded and opened using applications such as Word or a pdf application. Companies are losing control of the documents at that stage. However, with a document viewer embedded in their application, the customers and employees can view the document without having to download and open the document in a separate program.
FF: How do you see the industry moving forwards from here? Have we reached a watershed moment for the provision and proliferation of digital services to both small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and customers?
TS: I would say banks and FIs are just scratching the surface of new offerings for customers from a digital perspective. As Plato so wisely said, “necessity is the mother of invention”. The necessity of business to change and adapt to this new norm will encourage new and revolutionary innovation.
We are working closely with our banking and financial institutions to partner with them on this journey. My product managers and software engineers are focused on the future and developing integrations that will enable our customers to react quickly and efficiently to the changing times. I am very excited to see what the future holds.
For more on content processing, conversion, and automation visit https://www.accusoft.com/