Take the Digital Banking Platform Test

Do you really have a single platform for all your digital banking?

Today, most community banks are seeking a single digital platform that can cover these four essential elements:

  • Consumer Internet banking
  • Consumer mobile banking
  • Business Internet banking
  • Business mobile banking

Some platforms might extend to telephony or IVR, while others will include employees or other sub-segments, like micro-businesses. But these four elements are key segments that every bank needs to satisfy.

Why a platform?

The arguments over platform vs. point-solutions have gone back and forth. But now the pendulum has swung away from point-solutions and towards the platform approach.

There are all sorts of benefits to buying a single platform—ease of maintenance, lower cost, overall simplicity, and one “vendor-neck” to wring if things go wrong.

And this trend becomes apparent in the vendor marketplace. All of the digital banking providers are offering a platform—consumer and business, Internet and mobile. Some might get there with different technology, but to compete today—to have a seat at the table for the good commercial opportunities out there in the market—a vendor has to offer all of these things. The bar is higher than even a few short years ago.

So how do you know if you are on a single platform?

You take a test, that’s how. As a financial service exec, it is important to know your reality. Your vendor might claim you are on a platform, getting all this great value from a single technology infrastructure. But most vendors layer on new technology. Underneath, it may be a patchwork held together by duct tape and spit. We all have been there. It is a reality. You need to grow and expand—and you can’t throw out all the old stuff—so you patch it. You make it work. In the end it works. But not optimally. And over time that old infrastructure will fail.

What are the signs that you are NOT on a truly well-architected single digital platform? Here are some simple tests.

  1. Your business, employee, and consumer profiles are all in different databases or tables. This is a simple test. Do the actual profiles for each of these users sit in different databases or tables? If so, you might NOT be on a single digital platform. Ideally, a profile is a profile is a profile—and a user is only distinguished by what they are entitled to do. It should be one single profile.
  2. You have separate design assets for each channel or device. Do your iPad app and your Internet banking site share logos and other design assets? When you change an asset or a value related to design, does it really impact all the various channels or devices? If you have to have lots of design assets that are specific to a single device, you might NOT be on a single digital platform. Design should be very consistent from device to device. Assets should be shared. Reuse of design sensibility and assets across platforms is key.
  3. Your really cool entitlements engine used for businesses does not apply to the consumers. Can you apply entitlements to consumers? Can you set a remote deposit capture limit at the individual user level? Can you turn on and off certain features within the mobile banking app? Can a consumer set up their daughter for online access and then restrict how, when, and where she uses her debit card? These are all examples of entitlements being applied to the consumer digital banking base. If you can’t use entitlements on your consumers, you might NOT be on a single digital platform.
  4. Your iPad, iOS and Android apps all look a little bit different. Okay, they look really different. The most basic of questions is do your apps and Internet site look the same—or at least based on the same design? Yes, there are certain conventions that each device uses, but the overal design motif should be consistent. If your Internet, iPhone, Android App, and tablet apps all look different, you might NOT be in a single digital platform. Again, not talking about device conventions, but rather consistent look and feel.
  5. You have to use separate survey tools for businesses and consumers. Most digital banking solutions allow you to field surveys for end-users. The surveys can be customized for a specific segment or group of customers or members. And the tool can be used for businesses as well. If you can’t share a single survey template across user groups, you might NOT be on a single digital banking platform. You should be able to build and maintain surveys centrally for all clients and leverage one survey for as many different customer segments as needed.
  6. You are limited to using new business features just for businesses, as they don’t work for consumers. Some consumers might want to do a wire transfer. Others might have a need for more advanced cash flow reporting. Still again, some consumers are actually small business owners and can benefit from selected parts of the buisness digital banking suite. If you can’t easily turn on the business features for consumers, you might NOT be on a single digital banking platform. If the features are truly in a single platform—and if the platform has a robust entitlements engine that applies to all types of users—this is a piece of cake to facilitate.
  7. You have separate reports (if you have analytics all) for businesses and consumers. Reporting is critical to the digital channel, as learning is constant. And in the future, analytics will increasingly be used to shape the online experience. If the digital reports are separate for businesses and consumers, you might NOT be on a single digital platform. Reporting should be combined. In some cases, the business owners are also personal account holders, so combined reporting is implied in these cases.
  8. You define separate marketing campaigns for businesses and consumers (which is good) and yet, they share nothing—not even the marketing assets. Yes, the campaigns should be different, but they should still share design and other marketing assets. Otherwise, you gotta set up lots of stuff twice. Marketing campaign engines are critical to a digital banking infrastructure. And targeted marketing to a specific segment—even high-level segments such as small business and consumer, is also critical. A good marketing engine will allow for single campaigns to be tweaked for multiple segments. If you have to maintain two completely separate campaigns for small businesses and consumers when defining the digital side, you might NOT be on a single platform.
  9. A business account holder with personal accounts has two separate logins, as the accounts are on separate digital solutions. It’s common for a business owner to maintain personal accounts along with business accounts at the same bank, especially for micro businesses and small businesses. While it’s not always perceived as “best-practice” from a compliance and regulatory perspective, many banks have overcome the compliance hurdles and choose to allow a co-mingled view of personal and business accounts. If your business customer has two sign-ons, you might NOT be on a single digital platform.
  10. You are paying for both consumer Internet and consumer mobile banking. As mobile banking entered the scene after Internet banking, it came with an additional cost layered on. Many many digital banking vendors have structured their contracts to charge twice—once for Internet and once for mobile. And as we know, a vast majority of mobile users still use the Internet, so usage remains cross channel. If you are being billed per user for each channel separately, you might NOT be on a single platform. Because if you’re on a single platform, there is no need to charge twice. There is one infrastructure, and it doesn’t matter where the user comes in. Being charged twice is a direct result of two infrastructures being potentially present. Two charges, two things to maintain.

How did you do when you answered the questions above? While platforms are the future, they are not always a reality. It is hard to maintain a single platform. It requires discipline and diligence on the part of the vendor providing the technology or the internal IT group building it. Hard but doable. But you have to know where you stand.

Robb Gaynor is co-founder and chief product officer of Malauzai, a developer of mobile and Internet banking solutions for community financial institutions. Email: robb.gayn[email protected].