Digital disruption could make or break the banking sector

While some banks have struggled with the current digital revolution, ICS Financial Systems – World Finance’s Best Banking and Finance Software Solutions provider, 2019 – is using this disruption to its advantage

Digital platforms are now a crucial mechanism for engaging with customers. ICS Financial Systems utilises such products to facilitate its global operations  

The process of digitalisation has been challenging banks and financial institutions for more than two decades. Some of the biggest changes they face today include the unification of digital systems, the automation of processes and the establishment of efficient means to comply with regulations. Consequently, banking technology providers are now at the core of the market structure, helping banks and their clients cope and become part of the digital banking revolution, while taking advantage of the many opportunities that come with it.

Digital platforms are now a crucial mechanism for engaging with both existing and potential customers. As such, social networks have become important tools for sales, marketing and communication. Digital platforms also facilitate banks’ and financial institutions’ global operations, regardless of their geographic location, via cutting-edge software and automation systems.

In light of these industry-wide changes, World Finance spoke with Wael Malkawi, Executive Director at ICS Financial Systems (ICSFS), about how clients are future-proofing themselves as this evolution continues.

What has caused the recent evolution in the banking industry?
Banks have been chasing digital transformation ever since the creation of fintech, when tech giants started imposing changes and creating new platforms for doing business. Today, banks are obliged to embrace digital technologies and fully leverage these changes in order to facilitate the demands of customers and proactively roll out new products. This enables them to both nurture and strengthen a customer-centric approach. As such, digital banking has become the key pillar of any bank’s strategic evolution in today’s highly competitive environment.

Banks must face the growing competition from fintech start-ups, multinational organisations and tech giants through continued disruptive innovation

How are banks coping with fintech, regtech and tech giants?
ICSFS believes that in order to be truly digital, a bank must re-engineer the way it does business by creating a new strategy of digitalisation in its business model. Essentially, banks must face the growing competition from fintech start-ups, multinational organisations and tech giants through continued disruptive innovation.

We can help clients with this, as ICSFS has the foresight needed to capitalise on the future of digital banking. It is also recognised by many official independent bodies for its excellence, progressiveness and innovation within the banking and financial sector.

What impact have disruptive digital technologies had on the industry?
The banking sector has realised that it has to adopt digital technology into its processes and applications as fast as possible, as it will enrich the customer experience in many areas. It can help banks venture into new markets and increase both their market share and profitability.

Digital technologies will also increase consumer confidence and engagement, which will enable banks to know their customers better and provide guidance on which services are best suited to them. Finally, they can reduce banks’ operational costs while also complying with and satisfying increasingly complex regulations.

What market advantages do you offer to your customers?
The key to any successful transformation is choosing the right partner with whom to drive innovation, generate new opportunities and create market advantages over competitors in the field. This is where our innovation lies – in flexibility, simplicity and efficiency. With decades of experience, ICSFS is recognised for its success in all of its operational regions, as it has a great understanding of international trends, as well as local requirements, regulations and culture.

By implementing the ICS BANKS Digital Banking software platform, banks and financial institutions can generate new opportunities at a lower cost in order to enhance their market advantage. They can also exploit the software’s key benefits to help create a better customer experience and journey.

What are some of the other key benefits of the ICS BANKS Digital Banking software suite?
Thanks to our secured and agile open banking integration, rich functionalities are accompanied by cutting-edge technologies and fully integrated digital banking touchpoints. This means that banks can offer their customers a truly virtual digital journey which, in turn, drives financial inclusion.

Our main strength is that our digital banking platform is embedded in the DNA of our universal banking applications (ICS BANKS and ICS BANKS ISLAMIC). Therefore, agility is seamlessly reflected in all the universal banking applications’ products across all touchpoints, without the need for complexity or interfaces.

Our software suite offers banking customers a truly omnichannel experience by providing the latest possible technological advances. The suite’s proven omnichannel capabilities provide a full cycle of banking functions that are executed digitally – from customer onboarding and Know Your Customer processes to product execution and customer relationship management. It also offers flexible credit scoring, with a strong rules-based engine and back-office processes that are powered by an embedded BMP engine. The ICSFS digital platform is recognised for its advanced technological deployments, such as blockchain, smart contracts, open application programming interfaces and artificial intelligence, which all provide a real boost to the customer experience.

Many digital banking software providers offer a multichannel banking experience, instead of an omnichannel one. The difference is that when a bank uses a multichannel process, its touchpoints are not seamlessly connected – this means its customers will not enjoy consistency and real-time access between any channel, anytime, anywhere.

ICS BANKS Digital Banking is available on cloud platforms like the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, thereby providing a one-stop shop for customers seeking trusted business applications and service providers. Banks using ICS BANKS Digital Banking on the cloud can leverage global automation of communications and transactions with greater flexibility, agility and security.

How is the platform future-proofed?
ICSFS continually reinvests in its software suites by implementing the latest technology to launch new products, create agile integration and keep pace with new standards and regulations worldwide. The ICS BANKS Digital Banking software suite future-proofs banks by offering a broad range of features and capabilities, which then provides greater agility and flexibility to enrich the customer experience. What’s more, personal customer analytics are provided through embedded analytics for activity-based reporting and customer performance, which thereby improves the trust and confidentiality between the customer and their bank.

The suite also encompasses an ecosystem of third-party services, because banks that want to survive and stay ahead of their competitors in this age of digital disruption must be prepared to collaborate with fintech firms. Fortunately, the suite controls how fintech digital business applications and services are delivered to banks’ customers, allowing them to maintain a competitive edge and improve customer satisfaction with minimal cost and time needed for integration.

What do you suggest to banks and financial institutions hoping to eliminate market share loss?
Banks should accelerate now to protect and expand their market share in this era of digital disruption. The speed of transaction is aligned with the speed of innovation, and banks must not turn a blind eye – they must embrace this revolution by first realising that innovation is not something they can do alone, and instead obtain the help of software providers that are up to speed with ongoing digital changes. This will ensure any business is future-proofed.

How do you see the industry evolving in the short to medium term?
The whole world is interconnected. Today, governments are promoting financial inclusion and seeking to create a centralised database for citizens, including payments, transfers, personal data and more. Banks can benefit immensely from this amount of trusted data, as well as from other data sources, like social media, big data and apps. In turn, this information can be used to improve machine learning to create better results when using digital banking. This will result in the creation of more revenue sources. The data can also be used to make operations more efficient and increase market share for financial institutions.

Taking a step forward is fundamental for those who want to be part of the digital banking revolution – taking services off the shelf is the only logical step for evolving in the new market. Opportunities in emerging markets are opening up; being cloud-available enables the global automation of transaction and delivery channels and communications. Therefore, choosing the right partner to guide this transformation is a top priority for those looking to succeed. ICSFS is setting the pace for what the new era of banking should look like. Professionalism, experience and market understanding make the company a key player in the regional banking software solutions market. It is now set to keep revolutionising the way banking is done, because this revolution is just the beginning.

As the digital transformation continues, what advantages can your customers look forward to?
ICSFS emphasises three main principles a bank must adopt: first, applying the latest technologies and making them available to customers. Second, enabling consumer firms to maximise their performance by increasing mobility, cost efficiency, efficacy and flexibility, and by filling the gap between strategy and execution. Finally, banks must provide innovation and tailored solutions for specific
clients and countries.