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Why banks need to embrace apps

S. Sundararajan, Director, i-exceed Technology Solutions,  a Bangalore-based  IT Services Company focusing on global IT products and services market, suggests why apps are the way to go for banks to increase their business and cut operating expenditure.
July 4 2016: Customers today access banking services through a variety of channels and these in turn have helped banks achieve higher levels of customer interaction. Technological advancements have also helped banks reduce dependencies and expenses on real estate and complex IT systems. However, the arrival of non-banking financial institutions has disrupted the monopoly traditional banks have enjoyed till now. To stay ahead of the competition, banks have been forced to reduce margins and cut down on operational expenditure (OpEx) at branches. To achieve these objectives, banks can leverage apps to control expenses and improve overall efficiency.
The OpEx Challenge
A bank’s branch network makes up for a large part of a bank’s total distribution costs. With today’s rising cost of real estate and reduced margins on services offered, banks face a major challenge in justifying the high operating expenses at a time when branch driven revenue growth is low.
Under the given circumstances, banks are under great pressure to improve quality of services while remaining competitive and profitable in an extremely volatile and uncertain market. In the meanwhile, customers are increasingly expecting more convenience, accessibility, personalization, and reliability across the entire range of channels. Customers’ demand for 24 x 7 x 365 access to banking services has led to a shift in usage patterns of traditional banking channels such as branches. The shift has also resulted in direct channels gaining predominance as they deliver a greater reach to a larger audience at a much lower cost. Banks are also taking steps towards multi-channel integration for delivering a customer experience that is seamless and easy to use. 
The branches of today are not a vestigial part of a bank. However, with mobile devices playing a big role in redefining the banking experience, branches are slowly transforming into experience studios. With just an active internet connection and mobile devices, banks can jump start most of their operations not only at a branch but from anywhere the bank staff or agents can access their clients.

The Appified Branch
The arrival of mobile and internet banking applications marked the first step a bank would take in turning digital. They helped customers access banking services and initiate transactions on their own. Today, with the possibility to design apps that handle different aspects of operations, banks can achieve complete digital transformation.
A well thought out suite of apps could handle various operations that take place at a branch in a more effective manner. For example, customers can use self-service mobile apps to perform basic financial transactions such as check balance, make transfers, manage beneficiaries, and raise service requests. Managing card activity such as generating a new pin, blocking a card, and applying for an additional card reduces the number of people required to process such operations at the back office. In all these cases, apps reduce the footfall and hence the workload at a branch. Banks also benefit with lesser paperwork with the entire process being digitized. Due to reduced workload, employees can be engaged productively in creating new products and customer experiences.
Similar to self-service mobile apps, assisted service apps targeted towards branch staff help in handling various branch operations such as customer servicing, lead management, account opening, loan opening, and relationship management. As these apps offer a unified interface to the operations team without exposing the differences and complexities of the underlying back-end systems, they will significantly improve the overall operational efficiency at branches. They reduce the paperwork and time involved in previously lengthy processes. Now, processes such as opening a new account or applying for a loan takes just a few minutes to complete. With built-in offline capabilities, field staff and agents can perform banking transactions in areas with limited or intermittent network coverage using the same app. With agents on the field, banks have access to much wider audience with very little cost incurred in delivering their services. With apps that manage leads and banking relationships, employees experience improved levels of tasks completion and efficiency that equate to better management of operational expenses.
Additionally, apps based on internal operations help a bank to manage day-to-day operations with ease. With apps such as workflow management and management dashboards, a bank can ease operational workload, define maker-checker processes, track employee performance, and tweak operations where necessary.
At the heart of it all, it must be understood that mobile apps create a direct link from a device to the bank. And because these apps are built for specific functions, banks can customise apps to possess the best features while providing best-in-class security, encryption, and authentication features. Also, with features such as remote wipe, banks and customers can be ensured of data security and integrity.
We, at i-exceed have implemented many such solutions for our banking customers worldwide. With plenty of readymade customisable solutions ready for deployment, banks can go live with their digital initiatives and notice a sharp reduction in their OpEx in no time at all.

( Appzillon, I-exceed’s proprietary Mobile App Development Platform (MADP) helps banks in making this digital transformation simple, less expensive and thereby, reducing operation time and resources.)