Popularity of Customer Engagement Tools Reveals Weakness of Cores

  • Philip Ryan
  • April 27, 2017
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SAN JOSE, Calif. — One of the major themes in the first day of Finovate Spring (aside from perennial favorite authentication) was customer engagement — having better discussions with customers in a digital environment in order to deliver more relevant products and services.

Layer, EltropySaleMove, Flybits, and CallVU all took on this problem in different ways. Layer gathered together data points from outside a bank’s system to help provide a better view of customers.

None of them, however, used the term “360-degree view of the customer” or omnichannel or multichannel — but that’s just because no one wants to hear that anymore, just like they don’t want to hear the word “frictionless,” even though everyone wants account-opening to be smooth and easy.

The reason multiple companies will attack a single problem with approaches that only differ slightly to the unpracticed eye is that they are taking on a large problem. Authentication and digital identity are clearly still pain points, and companies battling this will still be seen in Finovate 2027 (we’ll buy you a drink if we’re wrong).

Another reason for all the CRM solutions is that fintech companies are compensating for the weakness of bank cores. Weak cores are the elephant in the room in any fintech conversation. Modern cores don’t need wrappers and are much better at providing bankers with the information they need, in order to have relevant conversations to begin with. But few banks in the U.S. seem to be approaching the idea of replacing their cores seriously, which is why COBOL programmers in their 70s are still hard at work.

Banks continue to look for tools that will get customers engaged via their mobile devices. Notably absent at Finovate Day 1 was blockchain, which earned only one mention at the very end of the day. Both Beyond the Arc CEO Steven Ramirez and Jason Zaler, fintech partnerships lead at PwC, expected to see more voice banking technology. Alexa and Siri made brief appearances on stage, but the use cases are still peripheral and gimmicky. Zaler expects to see voice make inroads in the back office, away from customers. “We still haven’t seen the best use cases for voice,” he told Bank Innovation.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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