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Email Newsletter - View Article Thursday, December 5th, 2019
Innovations that Improve Business Banking Workflow

Analyst's Journal - September 18th, 2013

By Donna Arce

Thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. This definition from the Internet also notes that the phrase refers to novel, creative and smart thinking. Everyone is waiting for that game-changing business banking solution that breaks the mold on the way customers manage their finances and interact with their bank. Yet, the very best of innovations could fail if they don’t meet compliance requirements or if the benefits of adoption do not outweigh the pain that comes with disruption of customers’ standard operating procedure. This leaves much to be said for innovations that work “within the box.”

Approximately 70 companies flocked to FinovateFall in New York City last week to demo their consumer and business fintech innovations. I am in awe of all the innovators and many of the concepts warrant merit. While I admire the innovators that are shooting for the market disruptor that will change the universe as we know it today, I am choosing to highlight some of the innovations that I think work within the box and could provide great potential in the business banking segments. It would be a double bonus if these innovations deliver on their promise and prove to be easy to implement.

I was drawn to two types of innovations, those solutions that accelerate existing processes and those solutions that enhance control. These two types can help financial institutions either meet compliance requirements or optimize their ability to generate profits. Here are my picks:

Luminous: In an effort to take the pain out of the loan approval process for both the customer and the bank, Luminous launched a loan pre-approval system for small business. This is a customer driven self-service tool that helps a business owner pre-qualify for a business loan providing the bank with the opportunity to speak with high potential prospects.

When a small business customer logs in, they can easily upload their working trial balance from their accounting software. They can see bank requirements so that they know what to work toward if they do not meet bank hurdles. If pre-approved, the customer can proceed with the process and even use their tablet to upload supporting documentation for their loan application. For the bank, Luminous has created a tool to help target a qualified prospect pool.

The Deluxe® eCheck, powered by VerifyValidTM: Although the rumor is that the paper check is dead, Deluxe counters this by noting that $1MM in paper check transactions occur every second. I accept Deluxe’s claim at face value because Barlow Research data confirms that even with high adoption rates of electronic payment channels, the bulk of non-payroll business payments are still transacted via paper check.

The Deluxe® eCheck, powered by VerifyValid
TM digitizes the familiar face of paper payments. Small business customers can execute a transaction electronically with the push of a button or by pressing print and generating a plain paper check if desired. Can the best of both the electronic and paper based payment worlds meet at the business owner’s fingertips?

Zenmonics mobileBanker: Zenmonics is currently piloting mobileBanker, a tablet solution for bank and credit union associates that provides access to sales, service and teller features for use both inside and outside the branch. Bankers using this solution have access to customer and account data, transaction data, sales tools and the account opening process at their fingertips. The universal banker tablet aims to transform the bank relationship, improving the experience for both associates and customers. Zenmonics believes this solution will help drive greater loyalty and deposits. The solution can sit in front of existing systems, without the need for costly upgrades or system displacement.

The Branch Profitability Dashboards from Ignite Sales: Bank executives now have a statistically valid method to measure profitability with the Branch Profitability Dashboards from Ignite Sales. It breaks down business banking activities and even segments actual and uncaptured potential interest and fee income. The system captures and aggregates information on banker activity. While it defines the gap between sales recommendations and closed sales, the system also aids bankers in correct assessment of customer needs and facilitates consistent product recommendations to customers across branch stores. SunTrust, Comerica and Rockland Trust are the first of many to go live utilizing Ignite’s newly released Branch Profitability Dashboards.

Spearfysh: In an effort to maximize sales force effectiveness, Spearfysh created a tablet based note-taking app. Not only does the app prompt the sales rep to ask key questions from pre-loaded sales call agenda, but it also captures both the written notes and the audio from the conversation for 100% personal recall. Notes can be annotated and segments of the audio can even be shared within the bank. This can be particularly helpful when other people/departments are required to put together the right solution for a customer. Spearfysh converts audio into text and enables the banker to conduct word searches to find specific statements made by the customer.

In theory, this is a brilliant approach to creating a usable database of field sales call interactions. My concern is that the sensitive nature of banking issues may result in resistance to the banker’s request to record the conversation. Spearfysh underscores the importance of helping customers understand how capturing the audio will benefit them. Capturing the audio is ideal, however, I think the innovation still provides value even if the client does not permit the banker to record the call.

Finect: Finect, the compliant social media platform, released a new online global financial library to help banks distribute content. Bankers can establish a profile and post and distribute content on Finect. From this point, content can be pushed out as the bank permits to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Finect empowers the bank with a permissions dashboard for compliance officers to monitor and control the distribution of content created by their bankers. Putnam and BBVA Asset Management are among the financial service providers utilizing Finect, which was developed with the former general counsel for Fidelity International.

WordSentry: Combating misinterpreted and even inappropriate messaging across the organization is now possible with WordSentry software. WordSentry provides feedback directly to the author as he or she is composing the message and can even intercept the sending of an inappropriate message. In addition, WordSentry provides aggregate reports that track corrected message infractions and those that are ignored by authors.

Interactions: This could be the next best thing in automated response systems. Interactions is a natural language virtual assistant that is highly conversational, extremely accurate and multi-channel in both voice and text mode. The interaction between the client and the virtual assistant in the demo was so impressive I thought it was staged. Interactions notes that the complex tasks completed by the virtual assistant replicates agent responsibilities, representing a strong area for operational savings. If it works consistently and does not break down when background noises and other voices are present, this could be a winner.

Discuss this article on Barlow Research's Business Banking Strategy Group on LinkedIn
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