Digitalization, demanding customers and new competitors: the pressure on providers of financial services to consider making fundamental changes to their business models is continually on the rise. Eberhard Rohe, Account Director Business Development Banking and Insurance at Retarus outlines the three biggest challenges which traditional banks in particular have to set for themselves today:
1) Digitalization is set to become a core element of the business strategy
Along with digitalization, innovative communication technologies are now playing an ever more significant role in the design of processes and the implementation of forward-looking business models. What is more, while finance institutes not only have to fulfill stringent regulatory requirements, they are also expected to withstand intensive cost pressure. And on top of that, it is also essential for them to meet customer expectations that have risen dramatically. For instance, customers would nowadays like to be able to communicate with their bank at all times, irrespective of the time of day, their current location or the product in question. “Financial service providers have to fulfill the very highest expectations of quality, speed and data security,” according to Rohe. To ensure that digital communication processes succeed, one not only needs highly developed interfaces, but importantly also global availability and absolute fail-safety.
“Banks urgently have to develop digital strategies, with which they can optimize their business processes, cut their process costs and impress their customers”. Valuable support in achieving this objective is provided by cloud services for business communication, which can be adapted flexibly to meet new requirements and bear up well against security, compliance and data privacy requirements.
2) Focus on IT security
In the meantime, artificial intelligence, big data and data analytics now provide banks with numerous advantages, especially when it comes to customer experience and satisfaction. Yet those same trends also pose one of the biggest challenges banks are facing in terms of IT security. This is largely due to the rising number of threats and ever more sophisticated methods of attack. “Banks have to be well aware that there is no one hundred percent foolproof protection. Once it has found its way into a user’s inbox, malware spreads unhindered throughout the entire IT infrastructure. In most cases, administrators and the users themselves only find out about the threat once the damage has already been done,” explains Rohe. Experts agree that banks can’t get around deploying additional security mechanisms to complement their conventional virus scanners. Retarus’ Patient Zero Detection® technology, for instance, is able to retroactively identify recipients who have been delivered emails containing previously unknown, and therefore undetected, malware. This gives administrators the opportunity to identify the impacted systems quickly and take action before the malware has had the chance to spread across the enterprise network.
3) Fintechs: Threatening or supporting the business models of traditional banks?
Another challenge for finance institutes is identified by Rohe in connection with new finance technologies: “An increasing number of fintechs are pushing their way onto the market, increasing the pressure on established banks to take action. These young companies are offering particularly customer-oriented financial services with the assistance of innovative and highly technological systems.” One stated goal of fintech companies is to shake up the finance market with more efficient, flexible and inexpensive services. “Many conventional banks see fintechs as a threat to their business models. In order to remain competitive, traditional institutes will have to fundamentally rethink their business strategies and work together with the upcoming new businesses,” Rohe advises. For no matter whether conventional bank or fintech, ultimately the future of finance companies will depend on how quickly and flexibly they are able to adjust to meet new requirements from the market – and how they are able to help shape these expectations.