Digital Banks Of Distinction 2019

Global Finance’s Digital Bank of Distinction awards again single out banks demonstrating that innovation isn’t limited to big banks with big tech budgets.

Ahmad Taufi k of Bank Mandiri with Global Finance contributor Justin Keay at Global Finance’s Foreign Exchange Awards in London.

Technology is helping smaller local and regional banks around the world to punch above their weight through a mixture of canny fintech partnerships, intelligent business strategies and the ability to deliver what their customer base needs. This year’s Digital Bank of Distinction awards recognize outstanding accomplishments in digital banking made by middle-market and local banks that might have gone unnoticed in the World’s Best Digital Bank competition, which also includes the largest global and regional banks.

Earlier this year, Banco Cuscatlan launched Banca Digital, making it the first bank in the country with a 100% digital offering. “One primary lesson from the process, is that a digital platform must be centered not only in technology but in our business strategy,” says Eduardo Luna, executive director at Banco Cuscatlan. “Moreover, during the creation of our digital bank platform, we learned that decisions must be client-centered, thus enhancing value via our platform.”

Too-frequent modifications to digital platforms are always apt to breed client dissatisfaction. Banco Cuscatlan has focused on modifications that enhance the customer experience, including an easy and quick onboarding process, effective security practices and processes, and a technology infrastructure that is delivering excellent customer experience across the bank’s product range.

“We increased our coverage network, improved alternative channels and also launched promos directed toward specific client segments,” Luna says. “We are also making the necessary investments to improve our IT infrastructure, streamline internal processes and improve turn-around time commitments.”

Another Latin American institution, Banco de Bogota, launched a digital lab in 2017 and recently rolled out a new web platform for its retail clients in Colombia. The bank accelerated its digital transformation efforts with an eye to delivering new customer experiences, including strengthening its big-data analytics platform and launching new data-driven services.

Finding Small Growth in Enterprises

Russia’s Otkritie Bank is focused on providing high-quality digital services for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularity via mobile devices. “The share of mobile-only internet users in the world is growing steadily—it’s difficult to imagine morning coffee without reading news on a smartphone,” says Vitaly Sytnikov, head of SME mobile apps and services. “Today there is an app for everything, and banking is no exception. That is why one of our main goals is providing mobile-only services for entrepreneurs.”

With just a few taps, Otkritie Bank’s SME customers can order a virtual corporate card for business purposes, place funds on deposit or even get a fast loan. “We understand that banking today is not only about money, the way one banks is part of one’s lifestyle,” says Sytnikov. “So we also launched financial news from our Open Academy resource inside our mobile bank for SMEs—visually stylized as stories that appear on popular social applications.”

Otkritie constantly analyzes users’ behavior in remote channels for clues on how to give them a more distinctive digital experience and what value-added solutions they may want. “As an example, we have noticed that our SME customers spend much time figuring out the current status of payments they’ve made to foreign partners,” Sytnikov says. “The solution became the Swift gpi service, which decreased by one day the time to credit funds to counterparty accounts. Fees became more clear; and also our clients can now track the current status of payments anytime, and get the receipt once funds have been credited to the recipient.”

Acquirers and Collaborators

Some smaller banks are upping their digital game via acquisitions and collaborations. Spain’s Bankinter bought compatriot challenger bank EVO Banco last year and has used it to test new products and target a younger demographic. A relaunch of EVO Banco will include 100% digital mortgages, an account aggregator and a savings bank. EVO Banco is also readying new voice features. The acquisition also included the purchase of EVO Banco’s Irish consumer credit affiliate, Avantcard, allowing Bankinter to enter new markets on this technology platform.

Turkey’s Isbank has partnered with a local fintech, smpl., to simplify the application process for consumer loans and credit cards through instant forms, ensuring that relevant product offers are tailored to match individual needs of online visitors. Building on its reputation for Greek firsts, Piraeus Bank recently unveiled a new personal financial management (PFM) tool powered by technology developed by fintech developer Strands.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, Bank Mandiri is launching a virtual credit card with online retailer Tokopedia. Last March, along with Bank Negara Indonesia, Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Bank Tabungan Negara, it created LinkAja, Indonesia’s state-owned mobile payment platform. And Taiwan’s CTBC Bank is collaborating with social platform LINE to offer social media related financial services. It has also launched a suite of digital financial services including investment, insurance, loans and PFM.

Digital Bank Of Distinction Honorees

Consumer— Asia

Taiwan CTBC

Consumer—Latin America

Colombia Banco de Bogotá
El Salvador Banco Cuscatlán

Consumer— Western Europe

Greece Piraeus Bank
Spain Bankinter
Turkey ISbank

Corporate/Institutional — Asia

Indonesia BankMandiri

Corporate/Institutional — Central and Eastern Europe

Russia Otkritie Bank