At the conclusion of the second quarter of 2015, the number of customers with access to Internet banking services in Poland exceeded 27 million. In turn, the number of customers using mobile banking services has surpassed 4 million. In the US, almost 52% of smartphone users who have a bank account use a mobile application. It can be clearly seen that the numbers for Poland do not differ from the statistics from Western countries. For dynamically developing national banking sectors, the great number of customers is not only a success, it is also a challenge. Along with growing awareness, consumers are becoming increasingly demanding. They expect an individual approach and want the solutions offered by banks to be tailored to their needs. How will the dynamic digitisation of society change the banking sector?

According to research conducted by Forrester Research, the banking sector in Poland, and primarily the innovative electronic banking sector, is something that puts Poland at the forefront of almost all of Europe. The solutions created in our country are ahead of the current trends and provide inspiration for Western countries. This is caused by many factors, such as the growing popularity of mobile devices in Poland, which is grist to the banks’ mills. According to the research, Poles have generally adopted modern smartphones and tablets, with smartphones amounting to over 60% of all mobile devices in Poland.

According to experts, the rate of growth in mobile banking has surpassed internet banking at a similar level of developmenet. This is the result of many factors, including the rapidly increasing saturation of the market with modern mobile devices, as well as lower prices of mobile Internet access. According to Grzegorz Młynarczyk, Vice-President of the Management Board at Ailleron, Internet and mobile banking has become the new standard in Poland; customers visit traditional branches less and less often. They want to have access to the services everywhere and at any time, while expecting them to be as personalised as possible. Because of this, further efforts should be directed at researching and developing new solutions tailored to the needs of modern customers. The Polish market has great potential. All we have to do is listen to what our customers want to tell us, observe the changes in their behaviours and habits and react accordingly in order to meet their expectations.

According to the Global Consumer Banking Survey, convenience is the primary expectation customers express regarding their bank accounts. Therefore, electronic channels are preferred for transactions, checking account balance and administration. Even though electronic channels allow customers to access their banking service freely, anywhere and at any time, it does not mean that they have completely given up on visiting physical branches in person. Many processes and matters are still not ready to be processed via electronic channels. According to the survey, visiting a physical branch is still the most popular form of contact with financial institution representatives in the case of resolving issues. Telephone customer service comes in second place, as it offers similarly effective contact at any time of the day or night. The survey clearly shows that in sales and consulting, customers generally want to have personal contact, but coming to crowded physical branches is an inconvenience.

Advanced platforms which offer direct contact with bank representatives online are a connecting link between the expectations of modern customers and their need to have personal contact with another human being. The Polish banking sector is currently ranked among the most innovative and rapidly developing in the whole world; therefore, we should not be surprised that such services are already being implemented by Polish banks. What is more, even American financial institutions draw inspiration from Polish innovations, as American Banker noted, thanks to the solutions available on our market and world-class experts in their respective fields. For example, the LiveBank service, created and developed by our company, has been successfully implemented by institutions such as mBank, BZ WBK and Commerzbank. Such innovations might actually change the face of the Polish banking sector, added Piotr Kiser of Ailleron.

Looking ahead, the banking sector will aim towards full automation, just as with every other service-based sector. However, this does not mean that the human presence will disappear from these processes entirely. Employees will still play a very important role in every one of these innovative services. Modern banking does not seek to marginalise the employees, but to optimise their work. Thanks to the introduction of video-banking, the organisation can centralise some of the key competencies, which in turn will facilitate controlling the procedures, coordinating the work of the staff or conducting training sessions, as well as allow banks to reduce the costs resulting from rental of physical branches. Therefore, implementing innovative banking solutions is far more cost-effective than maintaining a network of physical branches scattered all over the country.

Advanced mobile banking is not only a nod to the modern customer, but also to corporations seeking to minimise their costs. One of the results of implementing services such as Live Bank is minimisation of an organisation’s operational costs. In a time where investigating opportunities for savings is of utmost importance, such products are one of the few viable alternatives which will allow banks to attract new customers and, at the same time, reduce operational costs, added Piotr Skrabski of Ailleron.

Even now, virtual branches are bridging the gap between traditional banking services and self-service banking. The system available via Internet browsers and on mobile devices fills the void that now exists between the often non-intuitive banking services and interfaces and personal visits to the branch. It ensures great customer service, thanks to video and audio connections, as well as chatting with a consultant and screen sharing with other financial advisors. Virtual branches allow customers to get a lot of things done without having to go anywhere. Should the need arise, the virtual branch may also facilitate contact with an expert in a given field. The service implemented by mBank and BZ WBK also provides a set of tools facilitating the use of banking products: interactive calculators and forms, shared work on a document (for the customer and advisor) and file transfers, which brings modern banking to an entirely new level. Of course, every connection is secured and encrypted, and the highest level of privacy is ensured at all times.

Despite the opinions voiced by technological sceptics, services and solutions such as Live Bank ensure the highest level of safety. This is guaranteed by, among others, authentication of the customer and authorisation of transactions using voice biometrics technology, which makes the process more convenient for the customer. Every session conducted via a virtual branch is recorded in a central repository and encrypted, which assists in handling claims and complaints efficiently and serves as evidence in the case of any disputes. Being tailored to many target groups is an added value of the solution. Our product enables banks to provide services to language minorities or digitally excluded individuals, including those who communicate using sign language, added Tomasz Maciantowicz from Ailleron SA.

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