The Digital Bank Transformers

Banks are rolling out digital products at a dizzying pace—and in the process, reinventing the industry.

Return To Coverage

Bank spending on technology is headed up as digital transformation moves front and center in the fight to hold on to existing customers and win over new ones. Toward that, financial institutions are launching scores of new online products, apps and mobile services.

“For many banks, digital is going beyond the traditional online or mobile capabilities, towards an ecosystem to connected devices or partners to offer services that are integrated to the end-consumer’s lifestyle and patterns,” says Dennis Gada, vice president, head of sales, financial services, at global technology, consulting and outsourcing firm, Infosys.

The new digital offerings are also helping banks fend off the rising threat from nonbank rivals. These competitors not only boast considerable tech expertise, they know how to develop products swiftly. But banks both large and small have gotten far more agile in rolling out their own virtual products and services.

In round one of the 2015 World’s Best Digital Banks Awards, country and regional subcategory winners were selected from entries analyzed by a world-class panel of judges at Infosys. The Global Finance editorial team made the final selections.

Judging was based on submissions from participating banks, based on their breadth of product offerings, success in migrating existing customers to digital platforms, acquiring and retaining new customers and using digital offerings to improve business processes, cut costs and deliver other benefits.

Submissions came from all corners of the globe and include a mix of global, regional and local banks. Smaller banks are often more innovative than bigger players. Banks in Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey are proving to be innovation hotbeds, as an increasing number of smartphone users has driven the popularity of mobile banking initiatives. Banks awarded for their innovation include: Tatra banka, Sberbank, mBank, Akbank, Garanti Bank, SEB and Türk Ekonomi Bancasi.

That’s not to say that the larger global banks have been shirking. Citi, for example, won the lion’s share of country awards and many subcategory awards in all regions of the globe. Standard Chartered dominated the consumer digital banking awards in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, winning 17 country awards and six regional awards.

Karen Fawcett, CEO of retail banking, Standard Chartered, says that by investing heavily in technology, Standard Chartered is now digital by design. “What is central to our efforts is creating convenience for our clients, so that they have access to banking anytime, anywhere and using whatever channels they prefer.”

In Asia-Pacific, Citi and DBS won many awards. DBS won Best Corporate/Institutional Bank in Singapore, as well as Best Online Cash Management, Best Website Design and Best in Social Media.

In North America, Canada’s Scotiabank picked up the largest number of subcategory consumer awards, including Best Website Design, Best Integrated Consumer Bank Site, Best in Mobile Banking, Best in Social Media and Best Mobile Banking App.

“Listening to our customers’ wants and needs, through channels such as proprietary research and App store feedback, has helped Scotiabank focus our efforts on how, why and where we innovate,” says Jeff Marshall, who is vice president, self-service customer experience, at Scotiabank. “In every interaction, Scotiabank focuses on the customer journey from start to finish, always working to make every step of the process simple, safe and secure. Advances in technology allow us to stay ahead of the curve.”

Wells Fargo and Citi won five awards apiece in the North America regional corporate/institutional subcategory awards.

For the first time, Global Finance included an Islamic banking category to recognize Islamic financial institutions that are making major strides in offering advanced digital products. Country winners include Standard Chartered in Pakistan, Kuveyt Türk in Turkey and Boubyan Bank in Kuwait.

The remaining regional and global winners will be announced at the Digital Bank Conference and Best Digital Bank Awards Dinner, to be held in London on October 27 and profiled in the December issue.