Technology with humanity: a pillar for SME banking

In today’s world, customers often evaluate financial services providers by comparing experiences rather than the banks themselves.

Today, life is better than ever, with real-time banking services being delivered via mobile phones, and customers looking for an easy, instant and seamless experience. However, this has not permeated the SME banking sector, where being digital is a necessity to trade effectively, but at the same time a personalised service is still highly valued with the same level of speed of execution that digital platforms can deliver.

The good news is that SME banking is on the cusp of real change. The use of new platforms with a taste for humanity delivered hand-in-hand with superior relationship management has the potential to reshape the way SMEs bank.

Digital platforms have already demonstrated they can deliver genuine experiences when processes are straightforward and easy to follow, for example, onboarding a customer in the retail banking space has low complexity, while onboarding an SME customer involves multiple checks, from credit history of the individual and the company to adverse media — often worldwide — for instance. This means a fundamental shift in how SME banking needs to happen, where staying relevant means becoming an active part of the customer’s life. For Recognise, this business and digital transformation framework of being a digital and human-first platform is supported by five values: (i) being omnichannel, (ii) component banking, (iii) open banking, (iv) transparency and, most importantly, (v) supported by humanity. We believe these values are fundamental to the success of our technology banking proposition and implicit in the architecture we have chosen for our new bank, once licensed.

Technology with humanity means that through a central omnichannel platform, customers can interact across any digital touchpoint enhanced with the human touch — a personalised relationship manager. This strategy is supported by component banking that will allow us to create and stay ahead of what SMEs need — always looking to deliver this in partnership with our customers and not in isolation from them. To enable this, there is a need to access data, but with the ever-increasing growth of APIs and even regulation, such as PSD2, it is becoming easier to access data to streamline those processes where multiple parties and information is required — this is the world of disintermediation. For example, with open APIs and real-time data availability, it is possible to offer just-in-time and ongoing credit assessment, not only using financial, but also non-financial data, allowing us to lend and better manage our credit risk and, in return, be able to offer better rates and terms. By applying this disintermediation with a relationship approach, SME banking will shift completely. SME banking technology with humanity also means transparency — from the point of meeting a customer to when the agreement is signed and closed. Delivering transparency is achieved through effective communication — a key pillar of humanity. And this communication can be enhanced with real-time notifications, for example, that will help to serve the SMEs needs during the relationship with us. It is about being available for customers when they need us.

The new paradigm in the SME banking proposal, which Recognise is looking to deliver, will allow us to be so much more proactive in identifying the needs of SMEs, and then to be able to offer solutions and advice that is relevant to their business. Relationships need to be nurtured — humanity is a must; a digital-first proposition is only a small component of what nurturing and servicing means, but a component that is more than ever required to deliver a seamless experience and bring real change to SME banking.

The article appeared in September 2019 issue of Specialist Banking.