Kony Wants to Help Smaller FIs Provide ‘Differentiated’ Mobile Banking

EXCLUSIVE–Just having a mobile app is no longer a differentiating factor for consumers when it comes to picking a bank, but that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t searching for a unique mobile banking experience.

However, for those regional banks or credit unions without the assets of a Bank of America or JPMorgan Chase, providing a tailored mobile experience with unique features can be tricky, not to mention costly.

Many of these smaller banks choose to power their mobile banking experiences with pre-packaged technology suites. That’s part of the problem, Burley Kawasaki, EVP of Products at mobility applications company Kony, told Bank Innovation.

“A bank using something shrink-wrapped and off-the-shelf, with limited customization opportunities, that’s not a differentiated end user experience if you’re a [smaller] bank or credit union from the bank down the road,” Kawasaki said.

However, smaller banks and credit unions typically lack the funding to create a bespoke mobile banking app, which is why finding a “balanced” alternative is so important, Kawasaki said.

Enter Kony: the company’s Digital Banking Marketplace allows financial institutions to quickly integrate different capabilities into their mobile apps, seeking to provide the necessary customization without the usual cost, the company says.

The company updated its Marketplace earlier this month, adding new third-party capabilities from about a dozen new fintech startups and other providers like Jumio, Box, Daon, Vasco, and MX. The “intent is to grow” the marketplace further, Kawasaki said, in the hopes that more banks will be able to further customize their online and mobile services.

Many of the added companies are those that Kony already has a working relationship with, while others represent technologies that Kony sees as up-and-coming, Kawasaki said. This includes features like biometric authentication and chatbots, the latter of which may take banks more time to fully appreciate, Kawasaki said.

“With chatbots, we don’t see a tremendous amount of production, but we believe they are powerful opportunities [for FIs],” Kawasaki said. “There’s a handful of companies out there, more working in a proof-of-concept mode, but [adoption] is still with the early innovators.”

Kawasaki added that Kony does see chatbots becoming “much more of a mainstream component” for mobile and online banking in the future, but presently, FIs have other worries.

In looking for new features and unique capabilities, many financial institutions are focused on security and identity authentication, Kawasaki said. “Security is far and away one of the top areas [for banks]. It’s a pretty broad space, so we have a number of components around it,” he said.

For smaller banks and credit unions, that kind of security is a must if those institutions are going to compete against bigger players, as is the ability to tailor their applications to their customers.

Kony will keep expanding its marketplaces and is working on launching new for additional areas of fintechs, such as loans, Kawasaki said.

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