The Digital Transition in Commercial Banking

It took a while, but the digital transition to commercial banking is finally here. And there is a growing recognition that digital channels can drive the acquisition and retention of primary relationships.

Some of the most promising potential, however, remains untapped by many players. This is despite the fact that the power of digital marketing analytics will be increasingly important to provide client solutions and drive outsized growth in fee revenue and stable low-cost operating deposits.

Curinos believes there are significant areas of opportunity where financial institutions can pull ahead. This “white space,” which includes everything from dashboard customization to marketing automation, will be valuable spots for investment as more banks recognize the potential of the digital transformation.

A SLOW START

We all know that the transition to digital in commercial has lagged other lines of business, but that is now changing. Finally, commercial customers and business leaders alike are embracing the value of doing more digitally. As in other areas, the pandemic forced banks and businesses to adapt; many of them had to play catch-up on features such as digital account opening, real-time payments and e-signing.

As banks continue to invest in digital, the focus has shifted from the channel being considered as merely an alternative to traditional channels to one that is the preferred channel and revenue driver. The Curinos Quarterly U.S. Commercial CDA Executive Summary has found that 90% of banks believe the future of client coverage will be hybrid, with a combination of traditional in-person coverage and a broader array of virtual and digital solutions. (See Figure 1.) Only about 20% expect a return to previous levels of in-person client calling.

Figure 1: Banks expect a hybrid (virtual and in-person) coverage model to be the new norm.

Which of the following best describes your view of what the “new normal" client coverage model will look like?

We expect to return to previous levels of in-person client calling

We expect a hybrid model with some in-person calling complemented by more virtual client coverage and digital products

0%
TM
0%
RM
0%
TM
0%
RM

We expect virtual coverage will continue to be the norm and in-person calling will be the exception, at least in certain segments

0%
TM
0%
RM

We really don’t know yet what the future will hold, or think it’s something different from the choices above

0%
TM
0%
RM

Note: Some banks indicated they expect both a return to previous levels of in-person calling and a hybrid coverage model
Source: Curinos CDA

To support that shift, banks are investing in both people and technology as they also simplify products and extend solutions deeper into the customer value chain. (See Figure 2.)

But there are challenges. While the digital channel can drive cross-sell opportunities in consumer businesses, it is more complicated in commercial lines of business where most cross-sell transactions occur after a conversation between a banker or treasury salesperson and the corporate client. That’s why the CDA Executive Summary has found that more than half of banks now have tools to identify and push digital leads for payments and deposits products into the sales channel. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 2: Banks are investing in technology to adapt to new client-coverage models and are training staff.

In which of the following areas are you investing to adapt to evolving client coverage models?

0%
Adding more staff
0%
Third-party data
0%
Training staff
0%
Expanding industry vehicles
0%
Technology

Note: Some banks indicated they expect both a return to previous levels of in-person calling and a hybrid coverage model
Source: Curinos CDA

Figure 3: More than half of banks use tools to identify and push digital leads into the sales channel.

Which of the following opportunity types do you systematically identify through your digital platform, and how is the lead advanced?

Source: Curinos CDA

AREAS FOR INVESTMENT

There is still great opportunity for providers to expand their digital presence, including:

  • Onboarding: Three-quarters of banks are investing in digital on-boarding in 2022. (See Figure 4.) The ability to make the process faster and intuitive is particularly important in commercial line of business where the complexity of migrating cash management operations can be an impediment to winning the primary payments account.
  • Dashboards: The power of the dashboard goes beyond its modern design, easy navigation and on-demand data integration. After logging in, the dashboard is the single most important client interaction within the digital experience. Financial institutions are rightly examining what this means for their clients — which features and functions are immediately accessible on the dashboard for users based on their roles at their organization. The latest dashboards show relevant data that can translate from insight to action in near real-time. For example, typical dashboards provide key access to common servicing features such as account balances, payment activity and access to time-sensitive transactions. Leading dashboards provide these key features, but also include analytics and insight into cash forecasting for the organization.
  • Digital Marketing: Even though the channel is digital, banks can still take a human approach to marketing that helps guide the customer journey. The design of a successful digital marketing strategy can play a pivotal role in customer attention, satisfaction and adoption of new products. Cross-selling and adoption of new services is successful when the right products are positioned in front of the users who need and can benefit from them. This approach replaces the traditional engineered system-centered and function-centered design approach that relies on the process and requirements of the system instead of the user experience. Ultimately, this digital approach facilitates the growth and retention of primary clients.
  • Mobile: Few banks are investing in key mobile authentication and direct support features such as biometrics, virtual assistant and direct messaging. High-usage mobile features such as payments, account opening and alert management continued to be at the top of banks’ mobile investment priorities for 2022. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 4: Digital innovation and faster payments top the investment agenda for commercial banking.

Which of the following are your top three cash management investment priorities for 2022?

Enhancing client experience (e.g., digital channel, implementation and onboarding, service)
76%
Expanding deeper into client value chains (e.g., AP or AR automation)
40%
Product and/or pricing simplification
40%
Cash forecasting
12%
Industry-specific solutions
8%
Liquidity management tools (e.g., virtual accounts, advanced sweep solutions)
32%
Faster payments (e.g., real-time payments, same-day ACH)
76%
Advanced analytics and AI/ML solutions
4%
Other
4%

Source: Curinos CDA

Figure 5: Mobile payments and account opening capabilities are attracting investment.

Which of the following commercial mobile services and features are you currently investing in or plan to invest in 2022?

Source: Curinos CDA

THE VALUE OF PARTNERSHIPS

There is a growing list of third-party providers dedicated to digital advancement that provide services and tools to integrate seamlessly into core banking systems, with little lift from the bank. This can be especially valuable to smaller banks that don’t have the resources on their own to compete with larger players.

Digital solutions can generate revenue and drive differentiation.

These services span all treasury solutions and provide the opportunity to be more agile with digital offerings — from basic account data reporting to real-time payments. Cloud infrastructures that are specific to data storage provide more efficient opportunities for data security and a win for clients.

A combination of development, partnerships and white labeling can result in leading solutions across new and emerging electronic payments types such as RTP, virtual cards and Zelle disbursements that are available on desktop and mobile channels.

MORE REVENUE AND CONSIDERATION

Curinos believes commercial digital solutions can generate revenue and can drive differentiation in overall business performance — a trait that is essential to remain at the top of consideration for primary relationships.

Those with leading digital solutions will pull ahead in the race for primary customers, driving outsized growth in fee revenue and stable low-cost operating deposits. And the impact on business bottom lines will be measured in percentage points, not basis points.

Winning the space will require thoughtful strategies as the largest players enjoy significant scale advantage and fintechs operate with speed. For the largest banks, the challenge is in seeing far enough ahead to defend their dominant position. For regional players, the challenge is in achieving targeted scale by investing in the capabilities that are most important to their clients.

Peter Serene
Director
peter.serene@curinos.com
Jennifer Sypal
Digital Lead
jennifer.sypal@curinos.com
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