Challenges in the Digital Banking and Payment arena
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Fintech Interview with Co-founder, CMO & Head of Alliances, Technisys – German Pugliese-Bassi

German Pugliese-Bassi from Technisys talks to FinTecBuzz about various trends & challenges in the Digital Banking and Payment arena.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and Technisys?

I am the CMO and a co-founder of Technisys. Technisys provides FI’s with a next-gen digital and core banking platform that redefines the customer experience. Today, we have approximately 60 customers in 16 countries servicing more than 150 million end users, or banking customers. We have raised $65M in three rounds of investment to-date and continue to grow fast. Our goal is to create a transcendent tech company that is focused on helping our customers deliver delightful digital banking experiences for their end users.

We offer traditional banks, fintechs, challenger and neobanks a full stack banking solution that starts with interactions at the user level, like apps, websites and conversational assistants, down to the core as a system of record. This full stack platform that we call Cyberbank, helps fintechs, neobanks and challenger banks power up fast, and it helps traditional banks to digitize faster and in more efficient ways.

Cyberbank is formed by two components. Cyberbank Digital is our front end platform that helps banks with their digital customer interactions as well as provides the API integration needed for Open Banking or to connect to a digital ecosystem. Cyberbank Core is our next-gen core that helps our customers take care of all transaction capabilities.

As a full stack banking platform we like to think of Cyberbank as a “backbone” for today’s digital banks. It makes it super easy for challenger banks and neobanks to get to market super fast on both the core and experience sides. And it helps traditional banks differentiate by enabling them to design their own processes to develop and launch tailored digital banking solutions that add value to their end users.

2. How did the idea of starting a digital banking platform come to mind?

About 25 years ago, in 1995, we had this idea of the internet transforming the financial services industry. That’s when we founded Technisys. We were 10 years ahead of the market at that time. We were doing payments, loans and investments on the internet when Microsoft Internet Explorer was in its infancy.

More recently, we saw an opportunity for banks to differentiate with next-gen technology that would enable them to create and distribute financial products and services in real time, uncover new revenue streams, and tailor offerings to fit the needs of existing and net new customers.

We knew that banks were working off of legacy core banking platforms that weren’t designed for speed, agility and changing consumer behaviors. That’s why we decided to build Cyberbank, our cloud-native, API-centric digital and core banking platform that offers a unique, end-to-end digital backbone giving them the ultimate flexibility they need to deliver custom financial products to one or many, dynamically.

Many banks today continue to be challenged with legacy systems and are further impacted by increasing competition from fintechs that are able to deliver faster, better, and cheaper products and services. Today, banks are being challenged more than ever to do better. We help them do just that with Cyberbank. We propose that banks start with Cyberbank Digital, then when that is in place they can look to replace their legacy platforms product by product in a ‘slice’ approach instead of a ‘rip-and-replace’ approach. Banks shouldn’t have to wait 5-10 years to change their core in order to offer customers new digital products. The approach we use can enable them to get new products live fast in order to compete with the new digital FIs.

3. What have been some of your biggest highlights/challenges?

Every time we sign a new customer it’s a great celebration for all of us! Today, we are helping banks, neobanks, challenger banks and fintech companies provide delightful digital banking experiences to more than 150 million customers in 16 countries across the Americas including traditional banks like HSBC across LATAM, Davivienda in Colombia and TAB in the US, as well as newcomers like Rellevate in the US and Banco Original in Brazil. Our platform is proven!

When we first started out, it was a challenge to get banks to recognize the value of going digital. The market just wasn’t there yet. This, of course, has changed. The market is increasingly going digital, and banks are seeking a proven and modern digital banking platform to give them the true digital transformation they need to meet today’s fast-paced life.

Banks are increasingly realizing that the days of touchpoint solutions are over. Interaction channels, like websites, mobile, ATM, call center and so on, are today being blended in a single digital experience. And that means interactions with core systems are more important than ever. Front end and back end are sharing capabilities, for example – customer profiling for insights that can drive tailored offerings, segmentation and better security. These are actions that need to be addressed both at the core and the digital front end and across all channels seamlessly.

This is why the architecture of our banking platform is so important in terms of the ability to abstract from the product and focus on on-time delivery, scalability and flexibility. In fact, our architecture was recognized as best-in-category by Forrester in their latest Wave report on Digital Banking Processing Platforms, along with our digital readiness.

4. How do you see emerging tech play a key role in payable and payment apps?

Payment apps are evolving in the same way banks are. PayPal and Venmo, for example, both offer a more robust banking experience with credit and debit card offers tied to accounts. With more products and services being offered, more customer service issues tend to arise. As the technology advances, payment apps will benefit from using AI-infused capabilities that can either help address common customer service issues in-app or can redirect customers to a live person, seamlessly.

5. What is your main motive behind transforming existing banks to digital platforms?

Today’s customers expect their banking experiences to be more akin to those provided by tech companies like Uber and Netflix. That means banks are being challenged to provide digital experiences that go beyond simply managing banking transactions to supporting consumer interactions. This is why we help banks to combine data-driven customer insights with the structural flexibility of our digital banking platform to deliver meaningful recommendations to each and every customer, when they need them most.

For example, when a customer is about to purchase a large TV for $5K but is notified – via her bank app – that while she is authorized to make the purchase, does she know that she has $400 in savings and $1,500 of bills to be paid that month? Would she like to purchase the TV with a 10 month installment plan instead? Clearly, this is valuable information being shared at the moment it is needed most by the customers’ bank. It’s powerful and innovative.

6. How do you think technology will be enhanced in the Digital Payment arena especially during the pandemic?

The last year undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of technology in the banking and payments industry. As I mentioned earlier, banks now realize that they need to do more than just service transactions. They need to add value to their customers with tailored products and services that help them better manage their finances and make it much easier for them to access their money in real time, on any device – all with touch-less ease. By accessing a cloud-native, API-centric digital banking platform, banks can redefine the customer experience – whether through their own banking portal, partner portal or through an eMarketplace.

7. With the cloud shift in every business, what do you think are the transitory v/s permanent changes in terms of online business and online payment?

In current times, we have had to enable customers to complete the most common service tasks remotely, such as opening up accounts, resetting PINs, changing loan terms, paying for groceries and more. These changes will likely become more permanent in the financial services space.

A few areas where I see more permanent change include:

1. Daily banking tasks will continue to go digital. Increasing digital adoption was inevitable for routine activities – checking balances, conducting payments and transfers, and completing credit card applications. As with most things, the more we do these things out of habit, the more likely they become embedded into our lives and unlikely to change. So, with more people banking this way today, these routine activities will stay digital.

2. Branches will still cater to important life moments. Since we are social beings, people will still want human interaction at important life moments. We need to feel reassured when it comes to life events like buying a home, managing generational wealth and creating a wealth plan. It’s reasonable to expect that branches will start to see an increase of in-person activity. What will be interesting to see is how/if video conferencing will be integrated into the process as we move forward.

3. Established banks will partner with fintechs. With increased digitization for customers, we will see more partnerships between established banks and platforms like eMarketplaces and social channels, enabling users to bank where they spend and socialize. The ultimate benefit for consumers is clearly more choice. And for established banks, it opens up an opportunity to compete in new markets, address microsegments and enter into new marketplaces that were otherwise out of reach before.

Of course, advances with AI and data analytics will enable banks to not only shift from simply monitoring transactions, but also assist customers via conversational banking. Banks will increasingly be merging human and digital channels to improve the customer experience at a lower cost. For example, customers can begin a conversation in a bank’s mobile app with an AI virtual assistant to answer simple questions immediately, but for more complex issues can be easily transferred to a customer service representative.

8. Technisys recently joined forces with Antuar to provide next- generation Digital Banking. What features or new enhancements are you introducing?

We’re very excited about our partnership with Antuar, an innovator in branch solutions. Essentially, the partnership delivers an end-to-end digital solution designed to elevate customer experiences across all touchpoints. Between the two organizations, we will enable effortless transaction processing in real time – no matter how customers choose to interact with their bank – ranging from mobile and internet channels to branch tellers and self-service kiosks.

The Technisys/Antuar partnership will help banks and their customers in three key ways:
– Offer greater levels of customer self-service and a more empowered branch staff through the digitization of branch services.
– Provide tailored financial products to customers at point of need on any given sale or service journey.
– Manage customer interactions and service requests from start to finish in any engagement channel, including the branch.

9. How does your team inspire you and what is your inspiring quote in terms of financetech?

Our mission is clear: to simplify life for individuals through the best digital experiences in financial services. This is what we strive towards everyday.

I think that when we successfully integrate technology with the human experience we all win. Arvind Sankaran, advisor to early and growth-stage startups, sums it up nicely: “We’re witnessing the creative destruction of financial services, rearranging itself around the consumer. Whoever does this in the most relevant, exciting way using data and digital, wins!”

10. What is your advice to the start-ups and business owners regarding using digital banking systems and to avoid fraud?

First, it’s important to define what you want your financial institution to be great at doing. Is it to be exceptional at customer service? Or, to be the best at APY (annual percentage yield) and perks? Once you have defined what you want to be great at and why, then evaluate your overall portfolio of offerings to align them to your one great thing. Through this process, you may discover that you will need to re-adjust your overall portfolio so you can continue to support your one great thing. Maybe this means outsourcing an existing product offering or service (like check processing) to another vendor so you can stay focused on your key strength.

As for avoiding fraud, it’s essential to look for a digital banking platform vendor that is committed to staying current with ever-changing compliance requirements. And that has compliance experts on staff who can help navigate this complex space with you.