Last week I visited the Dutch SNS Bank because it has an interesting story to tell. It is one of the few banks that have radically changed their behavior toward digital channels. Instead of reasoning, like the majority of banks are doing, that the Internet is about adding another sales channel in addition to branches, SNS Bank has changed its way of thinking fundamentally: "We are an Internet bank with shops that are an outbound extension of our Internet value proposition." The bank understood two things: 1) The digital revolution is not only limited to the younger, tech-savvy generations, and 2) digital is affecting every aspect of the banking operation regarding product and processes. I haven't seen many retail banks that truly sense the pace of digital change. As always, financial services companies don't necessarily feel the sense of urgency to make radical changes in their distribution methods. A lot of times, we see an attitude like "OK, let's try digital and see what happens, and if it proves itself after one year we have plenty of time and our pockets are deep enough, to respond." This might not be true in the coming years. In a time where digital touch points are growing quickly, this attitude won't work and companies have to make the adjustments earlier and faster. It's good to see that some banks are appointing mobile directors of heads of digital channels; this illustrates that they take digital seriously. In our latest report, Trends 2012: European Retail Banking eBusiness And Channel Strategy, we elaborate on the effects of digitalization and what it means for retail banking. Reading this research, you should remember three things:
- Customer adoption of digital technologies keeps growing. Digital technologies continue to drive long-term shifts in customers' financial behavior and the way banking products are distributed.
- Banks need to put digital technologies at the heart of multichannel strategy. Digital banking executives need to lead a shift from a branch-centric to a digital-centric strategy that's focused on earning loyalty by delivering great customer experiences across multiple touch points.
- Digital banking executives have a growing responsibility. The increasing influence of eBusiness and channel strategy executives within retail banks is matched by increasing responsibility for the overall success of their businesses.
If you are still not entirely convinced or are curious, come to our eBusiness and Channel Strategy Summit in London on May 23. Jurrien Kamst of SNS Bank be there to tell you firsthand how the bank became truly digital. I am looking forward to seeing you there!