Around the world, banking is going digital at staggering rates. In established markets, branches are closing in ever-faster numbers. While in booming Asia, all-online banking is pretty much the norm. As call centres fail to cope, automated products and services are being brought in to cope with the volume. And data-focused tools help financial companies help improve the customer experience. 

While there is lots of hype around FinTech as a magic solution. Plenty of existing and traditional products are available. They help banks streamline their services and digitalise processes to improve overall performance, making for happier customers. Both traditional banks and startups are adopting these rapidly to maintain pace in an increasingly competitive market. Automation of tasks can include account handling, help banks get to know their customer (KYC) and speed up transactions.

From Baby-Steps To Full Automation

Adoption needs to take into account three factors. The digital capabilities of the bank, the platforms it operates on and the range of customers it services. Banks are often split into consumer, commercial and investment operations, with many larger banks splitting to avoid risk contamination and another banking collapse. This helps create a fresh opportunity for banks to streamline operations.

Startup banking providers have easier access to digital technologies as they lack the human baggage that larger players have. However, startups often have limited data volume, wider industry skills and knowledge, and larger banks often have huge investments in technology. From both sides of the industry, automation is taking over, helping product, assurance/security and relation managers improve productivity.

As with much automation, the key benefit for workers is to take over the tasks that few people like doing or are particularly data intensive. This prevents the workforce worrying about being replaced, and allows them to focus on the providing the personal touch, adding value and helping build the next-generation of banking tools.

Companies like WorkFusion can help provide the products for any type of bank to meet the challenges they all face. From growing volumes of data and transaction, the threat from cryptocurrencies, increasing regulation like GPDA and tighter banking rules. Using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots and other products, they can help provide digitisation of unstructured data from source documents, use machine learning to expose errors or inconsistencies in data and provide key reports that the business can use to highlight improvements through the process, or provide data for future business decisions and direction.

Robots Are The Future, If Handled With Care

For banks failing to adopt these technologies, they will soon fall behind in terms of customer service, knowledge of those customers, and in terms of the type of service they can offer. Those that do take the RPA route will find success if they take the projects as an evolutionary move, and not some revolution with a silver bullet at the end.

Banks must identify opportunities in their processes that will benefit from the use of RPA. This could start as a focus on cost-savings, revenue-generating or compliance activities, but can move to wider areas. Following the paper trail and data-entry points are common areas ripe for automation.

Use teams or providers to create a rules-based process and measure the ROI both in terms of cost and savings. Also, look at the extra work staff can perform when freed up from these tasks. RPA is not suitable as a headcount reduction exercise, or it risks destroying a company’s morale.

Banks don’t have long to act. Analyst firm Gartner’s recent CIO agenda survey shows digital business/digital transformation is more important for banking, first priority for 26% of respondents. If they know their “old business models and existing value propositions will not be sustainable in the future.” The rest will soon follow, but will lose out on competitive advantage.