Stuck in 20th Century, Here’s How Banks Can Truly Innovate Themselves

To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.

While looking at the Pakistani business market, 2 major industries need innovations on a time cycle of hours, not even days i.e. Telecom and Banking industries. One is to keep you connected with everyone without wires and the 2nd one is to keep those wireless connections live with money as fuel. Unfortunately, both are lacking innovation badly.

From the days of getting a wired line till getting a nano SIM at present, there’s not much innovation added by the companies issuing both. Same is the case with banks; they are opening bank accounts for the last 50+ years but can’t add value and innovation into the process in Pakistan. Banks are interested in doing BAU and fire fighting kinds of things rather working on something newer and innovative.

Before executing ANYTHING new, everyone wants to make sure whether any competitor is doing the same or not? If the answer is no, it’s very difficult to take things ahead as everyone hesitates to take initiatives. Let’s talk about banks here now.

For a moment, just think big and evaluate why banks can’t do something innovative? (we aren’t going to discuss here the operational aspects of any of these ideas)

biometric_verification-1.jpgBiometric Access

Instead of conventional plastics, NFC, gadgets and devices how difficult is to recognize and offer disbursement services through Biometric systems i.e. Thumb impression, eyeballs, fingerprints etc. recognition and how difficult is to putting efforts on this innovation, while you are busy on doing BAU to get your organization running along with the market?

Digital Touch Points

How difficult is to integrate daily used apps (i.e. WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype) with customer profiles to accept their presence on virtual touch points? Instead of issuing a hard-core cheque, why not send a virtual cheque through WhatsApp; instead of visiting a branch physically, checking into a branch virtually through Skype/IMO.

How problematic it is to get plastics/services activated through Skype or Mobile App, instead on a longer voice call of 15-20 minutes?

002Making Online Relationships

If I can make an email ID for myself online, why can’t I get an end to end banking relationship online? Why customer of any financial institution asking for a financial relationship with another financial institute can’t be evaluated through his/her existing relationship to get a new relationship issued instantly?

If required, regulatory work can be done in follow-up with the customer again through Digital Channels.

001Flexible Bank Account Numbers

Nobody dares to remember his/her bank account number of 16-18 digits. I wonder how much effort it’s going to take for banks to come-up with flexible account numbers. Meaning by, if I need a bank account based on my Car Registration, why can’t bank simply map that with their system as masking? If someone wants to set his bank account number as his/her date of birth, how difficult is to make this wish true?

003One Serves EVERYONE

I have a debit card. Then I have a credit card. I also have a prepaid card but still I need a new card to maintain another product i.e. Readyline, Loan etc. I mean why?

How difficult is to put all my relationships on one tool and let me be the boss of transaction by choosing which account type I want to use to pay?

004Technological Helpline

I am using mobile since 2001 and after 2005, I don’t remember the time I had call someone on the desk (unless obviously typical IPTs ).

But if I need to talk to the bank, I’ll have to dial early 20th century technology address 111 XXX YYY, I mean why? What will it take to get customers connected through a mobile app, WhatsApp Call Skype/IMO or any other medium using latest technology?

Cash Machines

Since the time of Adam, ATM’s came in and banks are still acting like it’s a feather in their caps. What will force you to move towards CDMs, Currency Conversions and other latest cash handling devices, dear bank technologists?

005Device Based Logins to E Services

Samsung, iPhone and other players are working on technology and innovation on hourly basis; they are working for you guys. Integrate your mechanisms with these gadgets and get your customers logged in through device mechanism. User names, passwords, OTPs are talks of 1900; come on, grow up now.

006Virtual Assets

In daily life, there are things everyone buys for the sake of investment and keeping it safe i.e. Gold, Prize Bonds etc. Who will tell you to offer Online Gold buying and it keeping it safe in bank’s own locker system? Who is stopping you guys from offering online Prize Bonds sales and keeping them into your safe possession for customers?

007Social Financial Apps

WhatsApp, LinkedIn and other social pages played their parts and developed platforms where billions of people are interacting with their FnF (Friends and Family) on per second basis. How long you guys will take to come-up with a financial app that sits on top of these platforms and fulfills daily financial needs of your customers and their FnF?

009Referral Relationships

On Social Pages, Mail Clients even smaller Mobile Apps ask customers to get their FnF on that App; why can’t a banking relationship be initiated on a referral? Ask your customers to open a bank account for their FnF member while they are playing some game on mobile.

Writer is Branchless Banking Head in one of the Largest of banks of Pakistan. He has over 15 years of experience in Telecom, FMCG and Digital/Retail Banking industries.