Whitney Eshelman Oct 14, 2015

Global banking innovators improve the customer experience

The Bank of East Asia (BEA), based in Hong Kong, was recognized as the Most Innovative Bank of the Year at the 2015 BAI-Infosys Finacle Global Banking Innovation Awards on Oct. 13 at BAI Retail Delivery 2015 in Las Vegas. Fidor Bank AG of Germany, meanwhile, won for Most Disruptive Innovation in Banking and Albuquerque New Mexico-based Nusenda Credit Union for Most Innovative Community-Based Banking Organization.

“We had an incredibly distinguished, innovative group of nominees,” said Debbie Bianucci, president and CEO of BAI. “The winners represent the best breakthrough innovations that are moving the industry forward with a high impact on profitability, efficiency and, most important, customer experience.”

“Technology is transforming banking,” says Michael Reh, executive vice president & global head of Infosys Finacle. “This awards platform allows financial institutions to learn the best ways to interact with customers and run operations from global innovators.”

This year, more than 250 nominations were submitted from 34 countries, with 39 finalists selected across nine categories. Despite the varied nature of the categories, a few themes dominated. In general, the innovations tended to focus on customized customer interface options and advanced technology that aims to streamline services. Finalists included a free bank account built around an Application Programming Interface (API), a mobile digital branch that operates as a paperless, straight-through model and a mobile ATM housed in a BMWi3 car.

Ed Carrell, head of Commercial Transformation at Barclays and one of the judges for this year’s awards, said banks around the globe were “finally getting critical mass and momentum on things that they had been working on for a number of years,” such as mobile banking and multi-channel customer service. “We didn’t see anything this year that was totally out in left field,” added judge David Passavant, senior vice president and Banking Innovation Center director for PNC Bank. “Mostly, they were reiterations on themes we had seen before. But we did see advances in many areas.”

The judging panel chose the winners based on the originality and impact of their innovations. They were:

Most Innovative Bank of the Year: The Bank of East Asia, Limited (Hong Kong)

The Most Innovative Bank of the Year Award recognizes one bank that demonstrates an ongoing commitment to innovation for the advancement of retail banking. Innovation is exhibited through new-to-world products or services leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty and having significant market and business impact.

“At BEA, we are in the process of digitalizing our entire service network,” said Adrian Li, BEA’s deputy chief executive. “Our true omnichannel platform will provide a consistently excellent experience at every touch point and through these efforts we aim to deliver enhanced market leading services that cater to the ever-changing needs of our customers.”

Disruptive Innovation in Banking: Fidor Bank AG (Germany) for Fidor Smart Current Account

The Disruptive Innovation in Banking Award showcases a financial services company that has created an innovation that is radical in nature with global impact that is redefining business-as-usual in retail banking. Fidor Smart Account is a free bank account built around an API that supplements traditional account services with internet payments and other innovative banking products such as virtual currency.

“We think virtual currency, such as the Ripple protocol, offers a really exciting alternative to the traditional payment system. With Ripple, you can make seamless financial transactions of any size, almost instantly and virtually free of cost,” said Carsten Luth, vice president, Fidor Group International. “We intend to explore opportunities in this market to help shape the future of payments.”

Most Innovative Community-Based Banking Organization: Nusenda Credit Union (United States)

This award recognizes community banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets that are creating products, making investments and delivering services to meet their community’s most pressing needs. “We are a credit union in New Mexico, which has the second largest number of residents living in poverty. Yet, while the digital world is sexy, we have within our mission to provide the convenience and access of the technology of today with a commitment to personal banking of yesteryear,” said president and CEO Terry Laudick. “We are focusing with full resources on helping the underbanked and underserved, the micro-entrepreneur community and students.”

Product and Service Innovation: Fidor Bank AG (Germany) for Fidor Smart Current Account

Recognizing a financial services company that has substantially improved an existing product or service that engages customers, created new revenue opportunities and / or improved the financial institutions competitiveness in the market. “As a result from the most recent financial crisis, we realized the world needed an alternative to the traditional bank. We set out to build the world’s first web 2.0 bank in Germany,” Luth said. “Fidor bank is the first direct bank of the digital age of social networks. We practice what we call social banking; openness, transparency, customer participation are all paramount to what we do.”

Channel Innovation Award: The Bank of East Asia, Limited (Hong Kong) for Digital Branch: A New Way to Bank

The Channel Innovation Award acknowledges a financial services company that has made marked changes or improvements within the distribution network to either existing channels or has introduced a new channel or distribution strategy that has benefitted customers and/or the organization. The BEA digital branch features video banking with remote staff, and financial planning and credit card application stations. It takes up half the floor space of a traditional branch, and takes only 13 days to renovate and install.

“I am delighted to be able to share this success with the team back in Hong Kong that have worked so hard to make the digital branch a reality in record time," Li said. “Above all, we believe this project proves the bank branch can be revolutionized.”

Innovation in Internal Process Improvement Award: DenizBank (Turkey) for Powerful Teller Dashboard: Enhancing Customer Experience at Every Contact Point

Innovation in Internal Process Improvement Award recognizes a financial services company that has made a significant investment in internal process improvement to benefit the organization and, ultimately, the customer. DenizBank’s Powerful Teller-Dashboard platform uses customer relationship management (CRM), predictive analytics and data mining to make the customer the central focus, and better understand what customers and tellers need. The dashboard consolidates screens and streamlines processes to simplify teller-customer interactions.

“We know that innovation is not only process or technology it is also our business culture, and this comes from our DNA,” said Mehmet Emre Demir, CRM senior vice president for the Istanbul-based bank.

Innovation in Societal and Community Impact Award: Nusenda Credit Union (United States) for Co-op Capital: Widening Access Points to Financial Products

Recognizes a financial services company that has designed and / or enhanced products and services, or has provided new forms of accessibility to meet the needs of customers with special circumstances. Nusenda’s Co-op Capital program allows co-ops, unions or other associations to sponsor a loan on behalf of borrowers with low-income, poor credit, or insufficient collateral. There is no credit report, and the member organization’s savings account acts as collateral.

Innovation in Payments Award: Idea Bank SA (Poland) for The Mobile ATM Service for Small Medium Enterprises

The Innovation in Payments Award recognizes a financial services company that has improved an existing payments platform or solution or introduced a new payments platform or solution. Idea Bank’s Money Collection service physically collects deposits from business owners in person. According to the bank, eight out of 10 Polish small business owners visit the bank in person. With Money Collection, a trained bank employee can be booked via mobile app to deliver funds or collect deposits and convey them to the bank branch in their in-car secure depository.

Most Innovative Non-Bank Financial Services Organization Award: Lending Club (United States) for Transforming the Banking System by Making Credit More Affordable and Investing More Rewarding

This award honors a non-bank financial services company that provides financial products or services directly to consumers. Through its online marketplace, Lending Club is making credit more affordable and investing better with its new technology to match borrowers and investors, and offers borrowers access to more affordable credit.

“We have leveraged technology to more efficiently allocate capital in the financial services industry. We are bringing borrowers and investors together,” said Andrew Deringer, head of Financial Institutions Group, Lending Group. “Our mission is simple; we want to transform the banking industry.”

Ms. Eshelman is a contributing writer for BAI Banking Strategies and public relations director for San Diego, Calif.-based Marketing Design Group.

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