World’s Best Digital Banks 2023—Round 2

Banks scramble to meet rising customer expectations.

A still-challenging economic environment and a pessimistic outlook on the part of both corporate and consumer clients are making customer experience a key area of differentiation for banks. With businesses and households focusing more intently on their balance sheets and reevaluating their financial-provider relationships, banks must sharpen their customer profiling and deploy their best tools and expertise to retain and expand their client relationship base.

“Banks have a vitally important role to play in helping corporates take full advantage of new technologies in today’s increasingly digital world,” says Naveed Anwar, global head of Digital, Treasury and Trade Solutions at Citi.

But with so many new and developing digital tools at their disposal, banks can no longer rely on superficial improvements in their user interface and customer experience; they must embrace technology that can analyze vast amounts of data to produce comprehensive customer profiles that match customers’ needs. Exceptional CX depends on good data. Banks that want the competitive edge that drives future growth need to use that data to understand their users on a more granular level.

“Being customer obsessed has been a key focus of our ongoing transformation journey, and getting there is equal parts hardware and heartware,” says Nimish Panchmatia, chief data and transformation officer at DBS Bank, winner of this year’s award for Global Best Innovation and Transformation and Best Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank in the Asia-Pacific Region.

This means not just implementing new technologies but also nurturing a culture of innovation and customer-centricity. Says Panchmatia, “We embed this ethos across our 36,000-strong institution through our new way of working, ‘Managing Through Journeys,’ where we put together cross-functional teams to experiment and innovate to deliver differentiated customer experiences.”

New technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are expanding banks’ ability to collect, cross-reference and process information, affording them a deeper and more accurate understanding of customers’ behavior, habits and lifecycle, as well as of changing market trends, notes Manuel Romo, CEO of Citibanamex, the Best Consumer Digital Bank in Latin America.

“At the same time, we focus on strengthening our digital ecosystems with the highest security standards,” he says, “to ensure that our customers’ information is protected and that all their transactions are carried out safely.” Citibanamex has developed personalized financial products and services tailored to its customers’ needs, preferences and lifestyles while keeping the experience simple, friendly and safe.

CTBC Bank, our winner for Best Consumer Digital Bank globally and in the Asia-Pacific region as well as for Best Information Security and Fraud Management, is expanding its digital ecosystem and customer base to enhance the user experience, providing services whenever and wherever customers desire.

This year, Bank of America, winner for Best Integrated Consumer Banking Site, unveiled new featutes to its chatbot Erica. The bot can now switch users to human agents when they need more-personalized help. Once the agent resolves the issue, the client can resume interaction with Erica.

TD Bank, the Best Consumer Digital Bank in North America, is taking CX to the next level by piloting services that offer immersive virtual reality and augmented reality, including the metaverse, for colleagues and customers.

Implementing Advanced AI

To provide business insights and personalized banking services more quickly and cost-effectively, BBVA, the Best Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank in Western Europe, recently selected Amazon Web Services analytics and AI technology for a new data platform to improve its internal processes. Better risk management and innovative solutions help the new platform better serve BBVA’s customers.

Advanced generative AI solutions that build on data analytics from business intelligence are an integral part of daily life at Bank of Georgia, the Best Consumer Digital Bank in CEE, says Mikheil Nadareishvili, BoG’s chief analytics officer.

“With over 50 machine learning models in production and a center-of-excellence team of 85 professionals,” he says, “we have embedded our insights and predictions in business-as-usual processes of all bank divisions. Among other use cases, data analytics informs our credit risk policies, helps us deliver personalized service to customers, and brings efficiency to our processes.”

For example, BoG has implemented a chatbot that automates over a third of its chat communications with customers. BoG monitors the quality of its call center operations using speech-to-text and natural-language understanding technologies. This has helped it develop targeted cross-sell campaigns and implement a next-product-to-buy recommendation engine responsible for over 10% of digital-channel sales. “We are also actively working with genAI technologies and exploring the possibility of using them to hyperpersonalize our relationship with our customers,” Nadareishvili says.

Islamic banks, too, are applying new technologies to enhance the customer experience. The third five-year strategy at Boubyan Bank, ranked Best Islamic Digital Bank, includes a new visual dashboard, Contextual Banking Experience, which augments customer self-service with real-time insights and value-added industry news.

To help connect the dots between customers’ daily lives and their aspirations, First National Bank last year upgraded its user interface, including its Yethu app. The new framework allows the bank to deliver more contextual and relevant content and features based on customer needs and behavior.

Data-Driven CX

However, an attractive and intuitive UI design will only get you so far. If the data behind the CX is not adequately analyzed and categorized, it will lack insight and intelligence and will not make engagement more meaningful.

One of the biggest trends corporates will be grappling with in coming years, says Citi’s Anwar, will be the sheer volume of internal data they must leverage to make smarter business decisions. Another will be the need to operate in a real-time finance world. These two trends are areas where emerging bank technology can help corporates mitigate challenges and maximize opportunities.

“As corporates rapidly move toward more digital solutions, the immense volume of internal data they must deal with is expanding exponentially,” Anwar says. “And if those corporates don’t have a strong data management foundation in place, that increase in volume will inevitably lead to data-quality and processing issues.”

Citi, which bagged 10 awards this year, including World’s Best Digital Bank and Best Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank, uses sophisticated digital tools to maximize data quality and analytics, providing critical business insights at aggregated and individual-client levels.

“We work with clients to leverage new strategies to ensure their data can be mined for key insights to inform critical treasury decisions,” says Anwar. “One way we are doing this is through artificial intelligence. AI holds tremendous potential for analyzing historical data to provide real-time cash flow forecasts. AI can also help companies analyze trade transactions and identify potential compliance exceptions. Citi is employing AI to assist our employees and clients to ensure they are compliant with trade regulations and reporting requirements.”

However, genAI should not be seen as a replacement for human intellect, Anwar argues, particularly important regarding data governance and compliance. Human intervention will remain key to ensuring that data remain secure.

Lim Soon Chong, group head of Global Transaction Services at DBS Bank, points to the role of application programming interfaces, in providing seamless integration to improve treasury services that rely on data.

“Partners and clients use our APIs to embed financial solutions into their platforms,” he notes, “and to orchestrate workflows that create simpler, more-efficient access to trade and working-capital financing. Accessing alternative data within these platforms, such as inventory levels and real-time trading activity, enables DBS to better underwrite risk while scaling trade-finance and working-capital programs to smaller companies and merchants.”

Global Winners—The World’s Best Digital Banks
World’s Best Digital Bank Citi
Best Corporate/Institutional Digital Bank Citi
Best Consumer Digital Bank CTBC
Best Islamic Digital Bank Boubyan Bank
Regional Winners—Corporate/Institutional Digital Banks
Africa Citi
Asia-Pacific DBS
Central & Eastern Europe TBC Bank
Latin America Citi
Middle East Citi
North America Citi
Western Europe BBVA
Regional Winners—Consumer Digital Banks
Africa First National Bank
Asia-Pacific CTBC
Central & Eastern Europe Bank of Georgia
Latin America Citibanamex
Middle East National Bank of Kuwait
North America TD Bank
Western Europe Eurobank
Regional Winners—Islamic Digital Banks
Middle East Boubyan Bank
Global Subcategory Winners—Corporate/Institutional Digital Banks
Best Online Investment Management Services TBC Bank
Best Online Cash Management Services Citi
Best Trade Finance Services First Abu Dhabi Bank
Best Online Treasury Services Citi
Best Online User Experience (UX) Portal TBC Bank
Best Integrated Corporate Banking Platform Techcombank
Best Information Security and Fraud Management Bank al Etihad
Best Mobile Banking Adaptive Site Citi
Best Mobile Banking App Bank of Georgia
Best in Social Media Marketing and Services Bancolombia
Best Innovation and Transformation DBS
Best Open Banking APIs Citi
Best SME Banking QNB Finansbank
Global Subcategory Winners—Consumer Digital Banks
Best Integrated Consumer Banking Site Bank of America
Best Online Product Offerings Ping An Bank
Best Bill Payment & Presentment Bank of Georgia
Best User Experience (UX) Design Bank of East Asia
Best Mobile Banking App Isbank
Best Mobile Banking Adaptive Site Tatra banka
Best Information Security and Fraud Management CTBC
Best in Social Media Marketing and Services Kasikornbank
Best in Lending Bank of Georgia
Best Innovation and Transformation National Bank of Kuwait
Best Open Banking APIs SAB

The following country winners were accidentally omitted from the tables when the country-level awards were published in September:

Middle East—Country Winners
Egypt Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
Kuwait Boubyan Bank
Oman Bank Muscat
Qatar Qatar Islamic Bank
UAE Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank