Marina Walser: “Fintechs have the ideas, banks the money”


Marina Walser_GFT
Marina Walser, Director Portfolio Strategy, GFT

With the campaign “Empowering Digital Banks”, GFT aims to support the bank’s digitisation process. Marina Walser, Director Portfolio Strategy, talks about the pressure on banks to reinvent themselves, rediscover their customers and succeed against new competitors like Fintechs. She also introduces GFT’s survey “Secrets of Digital Banking Success”.

GFT’s “Empowering Digital Banks” campaign aims to help banks cope with their transformation from classic retail bank to “digital bank”. How exactly does it work?

Marina Walser: The industry is under tremendous pressure: the competition from new digital business models and technolo-gies is getting stronger. Industry outsiders – like PayPal, Amazon, Alibaba, Google and Apple – are occupying an increasingly large chunk of the banks’ classic value chain with digital payment solutions, for example, like Apple Pay. However, digitisation also gives retail banks the opportunity to adapt to new trends, develop a better understanding of their customers and start new forms of cooperation. With almost 30 years of experience as a service provider for the banking sector, GFT knows the industry and its complex internal processes extremely well. We have the expertise and proven solutions to provide comprehensive support for the digital transformation of banks.

The campaign is aimed at strengthening our profile as a sector specialist. Activities are therefore being run in our core retail banking markets: Brazil, Italy, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. The campaign has two main elements: firstly, we’re working on an international study based on the empirical findings of our current expert survey. Secondly, we are positioning GFT offerings on the topic of digital banking.

What are the main characteristics of digital banking?

Marina Walser: First and foremost, it’s about a fundamental change in the interaction between banks and their clients. Digitisation affects all aspects of our daily life. Banks will also have to integrate themselves into the increasingly digitised lives of their customers. Although there is still a role for the local bank branch and personal support, customers now expect a new level of service. They don’t understand why they can only contact their customer advisor from 9 to 5 or have to queue to be served. They expect the bank to adapt to their needs and provide solutions tailored to their specific situation. Young people in particular have long established a digital lifestyle, but most banks still think analogue. Customer centricity is the magic word. And this is exactly GFT’s approach: banks have complex organisational structures geared to product development. We cannot emphasise enough that by embracing the concept of customer centricity, banks can gain important points over their fierce competitors. A European comparison clearly shows that Spain, Italy, Sweden and Norway, for example, are years ahead of Germany in terms of digitising the finance sector.

You mentioned that GFT is currently running a survey of industry experts…

Marina Walser: The “Secrets of Digital Banking Success” study aims to discover what the key factors are for digital banking success and where banks currently stand on their path towards digital banking. We also ask experts which hurdles and success factors they’ve identified in the implementation process. The survey is aimed at the banks’ top decision-makers and digital banking experts. Participants will be granted access to the results of the study so they can make a direct comparison of where their bank stands relative to the market.

You recently unveiled the Digital Banking Lab at CeBIT. What were the key messages?

Marina Walser: Data analysis and interpretation are the future: in order to deliver the right offerings, banks must know their customers well. We were able to present a compelling case to our visitors by demonstrating use cases that show the complete customer journey. From mobile payment and account opening at the branch with automatic customer detection, to paying bills via a banking app. Various technologies and devices were used at different locations. Such as beacons in the bank branch for automated customer detection, QR codes for authentication, account management from the home PC, P2P payments via the smartphone, signatures to open an account via the iPad on the couch.

Fintechs have the ideas, banks the money. A no-holds-barred collaboration with young think tanks might act as a catalyst for innovation within the banks. The automotive industry has already shown the way: reduce vertical integration by outsourcing parts of the value chain to cooperation partners – e.g. the fintechs – in order to focus on what’s important: the creation of strong and trustworthy brands.

Last but not least: the pressure is not only coming from new players, such as Google, and innovative fintechs – no: customers themselves see how things could be different and expect a new quality of service.


Link to the survey: GFT Expert Survey: Secrets of Digital Banking Success

More details on digital banking: Empowering Digital Banks

More on our offerings: Mobile Payment | Real-time decisions | Digital Platforms | Personal Finance Management