Finding the right balance in banking convenience

By Tilan Wijeyesekera

Technology has made the world a better place by shaping everything, from our day to day operations to the lifestyle we lead, technology is redefining convenience in whatever we do. As countries uplift their digital and physical infrastructure to embrace new technology, a significant focus is also put in place by financial institutions to enact new technology to serve its stakeholders better.

 Whilst the rise of FinTechs and innovative technology has propelled banking convenience to the next level, we at Seylan Bank believe that Banks who provide tailored customer convenience along with human support are likely to thrive in the future.

 If we look at the demographics of Sri Lanka, we see two broad clusters of people where one group is tech savvy and are able to grasp the ever evolving innovations into their life, whilst the other is not as familiar with the latest technology and are dependent on legacy systems to fulfil their daily banking needs. As the Bank with a heart, we have strongly focused on enabling convenience to both of these segments by constantly embracing new technology to offer the latest banking facilities to the new age customers as well as implementing innovative techniques to make traditional banking more  efficient and user friendly for the non tech savvy consumers. By following this philosophy since the inception, we have been able to set a precedent benchmark in both the digital and traditional banking segments as the bank that has gone beyond just banking to offer greater convenience to our customers.  

 In the 90s, customer convenience was about obtaining a loan or a product from a financial institution. During this era, banks who offered the most number of ATMs or branches were lauded as the ones that offered greater convenience. However, today’s banking is entirely different, with the rise of new technology and change in consumer behaviour, we are witnessing disruptive technology enabling customers to engage with their banks through multiple touchpoints to carry our various lifestyle and financial related transactions. Further, we are also aware of the emergence of diverse financial lifestyle services, facilitating customer transactions in basic commerce in the form of shopping online or booking an overseas trip to channelling and paying for Doctors’ appointment and many more.

Understanding this rapid transformation, we developed our medium to long term digital banking road map and have taken swift measures to improve our digital banking propositions, thereby enabling our consumers to be able to interact with the bank through any channel they choose, such as the web, mobile, other combined physical and digital touch points including CDM’s and social media platforms. Further, our system overhauls include internal system upgrades, improvement to the core banking operations, business process digitalization, adoption of new digital channels, User interface (UI) and User Experience(UX) enhancement of the Digital Touch points and grooming our employees on the latest technology. With these enhancements, we have been able to offer a smooth, but dynamic, convenient and secure banking experience to our modern age clients both locally and internationally.

However, one major element that is paramount when it comes to digital banking is security. With the rise of new technology, convenience has become simpler and tends to alter a consumer’s perception on security and vice versa, where having high security authentications lead to a poor experience.  At Seylan, we do our best to strike a balance to this explicably synched formula. Further, our IT and digital banking team, consisting of highly competent industry experts, strive to come up with innovative solutions that will further improve our customers’ User Experience (UX) and e-banking platforms whilst ensuring the highest level of security with practical multi factor authentication. While we continue to have SMS banking for customers who do not use smartphones, we strongly believe that the future of banking heavily relies on smartphones and we are taking every step towards optimizing our mobile platforms towards this end. However, for customers who are more comfortable in working on larger screens we offer a state of the art Internet Banking facility, where ease of use, security and offerings are continuously being enhanced.

In order to offer true convenience not only do we need new technology, but also the right people. To ensure that our staff is groomed on the right skills and knowledge, we conduct periodic training sessions to our staff, and leadership training programs to the mid-tier management. As such, one major gap we see in the banking industry is the lack of advisory support for consumers. As the bank with a heart, we want to bridge this gap by cultivating our employees with multi-faceted skills so that they are empowered to advice clients on the financial decision best suited for them. In addition, we have also implemented stringent set of SOPs to ensure that we have the right service consistency at all our branches and monitor these through various means such as mystery customer surveys and consumer research.

Another important overhaul that we did was introducing automated workflows to our retail credit approvals where the retail teams are able to process operations online. As a result we have been able to reduce turnaround times for customers and was able to further add value to our product propositions through centralization of housing loans and developing propositions such as ‘dekken dennam’ for personal loans and instant cards. Towards offering the best services to our Corporate and SMEs, we have further enhanced our IPG propositions to enable them to carry out superior payment solutions. We have also made great strides to achieve leadership positions in market on channels such as MPOS whilst consolidating our position in the broader POS business with an exciting new proposition which will be launched in the next few months along with QR based payment methods.

Today, Social and technological transformation has had a significant impact on banking and Key tools such as data warehouses and BI systems have forced banks to adopt strategic marketing and product management practices. These include offering extended services, cross bundling and modification of products, cross and up selling, customization, entry into new markets and emphasising electronic banking. Embodying these values in our DNA, our retail banking team strives to offer greater value to our consumers along with effective communications models that target consumers at different levels. As changes in the broad financial fields accelerate and business activities converge, it is imperative to differentiate banking products with key advisory skills being a value added feature to fulfill the requirements of our customers along with a human touch. As a result, we launched two key initiatives from an advisory and relationship management point of view by rolling out an industry beating and most awarded central sales team as well as branch based relationship officer concept to deliver on this promise.”

“The future of banking requires balance. While consumers can handle menial, day-to-day financial tasks from their phones, they still prefer the opportunity for a face-to-face conversation when making an important financial decision.  The growth of technology will continue to enhance customer experiences but the organizations who are going to forge ahead are the ones that understand the need to balance the adoption of technology with the importance of human interaction and service delivery”

Tilan currently leads Retail Credit, Digital Banking, Personal loans, Housing loans, Card centre, Marketing, Sales, Pawning, Service quality & Call Centre and Bancassurance departments at Seylan bank.



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