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The current state of digital transformation in banks

Published on 18 Jan 2021

When last did you visit a bank branch?

Digital transformation in banking is not a new concept, however, the current pandemic was indeed a catalyst – but is the current pace of transformation keeping up with today’s dynamic, digital environment and the needs of today’s consumers?

We have selected three articles that provide insight into what is driving digital transformation in banking, how digital innovations helped banks adapt during COVID-19 and a look into digital transformation trends for 2021.

Ross Sibbald, Commercial Director at Striata Africa, discusses the changing digital communication landscape in banking.

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What Drives Digital Transformation in Banking?

This article notes that aside from all industries today being reshaped by digital technologies, a trend driving digital transformation in the financial sector is millennials and their need for digital products and services.

“One-third of this group (millennials) believes they do not need banks at all, while 73% were more interested in financial services from Google and Amazon.”

It is said that a customer-centric approach, personalization and mobility are the key components that enable digital banking. Digital innovation is key to achieving success in this sector. Large banks that have developed their own IT platforms are lagging in the current, dynamic competitive environment, as their systems are built using legacy solutions.  It’s also noted that alliances and partnerships with fintechs are becoming more prevalent.

It’s important to note the true meaning of building a digital bank – it requires “streamlining processes, a new organizational culture and flexible IT solutions that support speed-to-market and offer personalization.” Read further to learn more.


  • Publisher: Forbes
  • Access: Public
  • Download: None

Top Digital Banking Transformation Trends for 2021

The pandemic forced most financial institutions to accelerate their digital capabilities, as the need for branchless banking became critical to survival. While this article gives credit to many financial institutions that responded well to this massive digital shift, it also notes that the transformation was not fast enough and far from complete.

“Research from the Digital Banking Report found that financial institutions ranked themselves lower in digital transformation maturity this year than they did in 2019” – indicating that the pace of consumer expectations exceeds delivery in this sector.

It is noted that a focus on leveraging data and analytics to improve the customer experience as well as on simplicity and speed to improve customer engagement, is necessary.  Furthermore, financial institutions are encouraged to optimize the use of their current technology.

Banks and credit unions are encouraged to embrace seven digital transformation trends that are imminent in 2021, namely: Focus on digital banking experiences; use of data and AI for predictive personalization; movement to cloud computing; robotic process automation; investment in privacy and security; redefine the future of work, open banking as a revenue opportunity


How digital innovations helped banks adapt during COVID-19

This article focuses on the digital challenges, as well as opportunities the Swiss financial sector is experiencing – fueled by the current pandemic. Banks have had to work closely with the Swiss government to “execute the provision of a large amount of credit facilities; adapt offerings in support of clients’ needs and changed behavior; and introduce fast, flexible and effective measures to keep operations and services stable.”

During the crisis the following increases were observed, resulting from the loss of physical interactions: “Rapid increases in the digital opening of new relationships (up over 70%) registration and usage of mobile pay applications (up over 80%), as well as contactless payments (up over 30%).”

It is noted that remote working arrangements, as well maintaining the level of client service expected was a major operational challenge for the financial services industry in Switzerland.  However, organizations have since discovered the potential of digital channels, as well as digital operational setups and how they can leverage data and analytics to create value.

Read further to discover more on how “from a Swiss perspective, digital solutions, data and analytics can be used to create value in financial service organizations,” namely: Protect clients by identifying conspicuous or fraudulent transactions; Meet regulatory and legal requirements; Boost operational efficiency; Serve clients better through data and analytics; Follow sound data principles.


The changing digital communication landscape in banking

Technology, along with the recent pandemic has fundamentally changed the way banks work and, perhaps more importantly, how customers interact with them. While branches still exist, few consumers venture into them unless they absolutely have to.

And why should they, when they can do almost everything they need to on their computers and smartphones?

While the recent, rapid period of technological change, saw massive disruption, the banks that put customer experience (CX) at the center of their transformation efforts have thrived.

In particular, they put a lot of work into their digital communication efforts. And, as banking braces for the next technological wave, digital communication will become even more critical.

As things stand, digital communication is already critical for banking.

Banks cater to customers of different ages, who come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds. Not adapting to meet the expectations of today’s ever-demanding consumers, could be detrimental for business…

Good CX means allowing customers to communicate using the channel of their choice. Importantly, however, it also means being consistent and accessible across all communication channels.  This is especially important when it comes to introducing and helping customers get to grips with any new technologies available to them.

And, using digital communication, banks can build lasting relationships with virtually their entire customer base, creating regular engagement and trust – which are vital to good CX.

Ross Sibbald

Commercial Director, Africa