A new perspective on online banking

Online-Banking neu betrachtetUp until recent years, the term 'online banking' became for many merely a synonym for the functionality of the automated processing of payment transactions for private and business customers. The convenience of almost 7x24 service availability in combination with favourable transaction costs and/or accounts completely free of charge, quickly led to a sharp increase in consumer habits in online banking services.

This trend also accelerated a shift of the entire banking landscape. In addition to the expansion of the service spectrum in the area of online services, through the established banks a colourful bouquet of new direct banks was created, partly as descendants of specialised credit institutions with no previous core business in the traditional private customer sector. The functions of online banking portals rapidly grew with the development of this market potential - at first mostly in the range of standard products in the retail business with high potential for automation in the subsequent processing, but also increasingly for more complex consulting operations and product distribution in recent times.

In 2014, around 50% of all Internet users use online banking as well to handle their transactions. The savings potential for banks through the automation of processes and reduction of staff as well as resources, are considerable. The cost savings in terms of postage, paper, and the operation of production lines alone - the creation of bank statements, bills, will now be sent digitally to the customers inbox instead of by the traditional mailing route - add up annually to amounts in the millions, depending on the size of a financial institution.

Online-Banking neu betrachtetAlong with the online trend, the automation of the business operations of traditional branch banks was increased, from the use of self-service terminals through to the complete configuration of branches as pure self-service zones, but ultimately in a consolidation and thinning out of the branch network. This has led to some identification and definition problems of long-established universal banks opposing the direct banks and thus creating a greater need to define their own features anew and to place innovative products and services as unique selling points - as a combination of online business and consulting opportunities within the local branch.

S & N has supported its customers in the financial sector for many years as a competent contact partner in the field of online banking and performs wide-ranging tasks along the application life-cycle processes there. Thus, the consultants are active in various disciplines on both the design and planning side as well as on the realisation and implementation side. In doing so they are partly involved in the creation of new and innovative products in the "fields" of customers. In the realisation of projects on the "IT side", the tasks will contribute in the areas of professional and technical analysis, design, quality assurance, as well as in sub project management. Service management by S&N takes over the incident and problem management process for dedicated services - on request, round the clock and 365 days a year.

Homogeneous appearance and improved user comfort

Online-Banking neu betrachtetIn addition to a PC, laptop or tablet, the use of online banking via smartphone and recently smartwatch has rapidly increased. Availability "always" is (almost) "everywhere", thanks to powerful mobile devices. Whether the customer effects transfers from home on a PC or checks his account transactions on the road via a smartphone - regardless of the device he should be able to use all functions of online banking and not have to think each time about where each function is hidden in the menu and how to use them. Accordingly, the corporate design and functionality of online banking will merge together across all channels of access. Both the requirements of a constantly growing set of features as well as the limiting factors of different mobile devices are taken into account. For smartphones/smartwatches appropriate apps will be available, functionality will also be possible even without this optimiser support. In addition, new technologies open up entirely new possibilities for increasing user convenience. The manual entry of payee details when executing a transfer, for example, will no longer be necessary with the use of a photo transfer function. Here, the proof of payment or even just the bill is scanned by the camera in the smartphone, the relevant information such as receivers and bank details will be recognised automatically and entered directly into the online banking transfer form. In addition to saving time compared to the manual (and inconvenient) order entry, it also reduces the risk of incorrect entries.

Growing security requirements:

Online-Banking neu betrachtetDespite the high usage rate of online banking, an overwhelming majority of users are critical of the established security mechanisms. However, the advantages of convenience and low costs outweigh the concerns in the assessment of residual risk. Though reports made of hacked online transactions in business and consumer magazines draw attention to it and demonstrate a need for appropriate action. Apart from steady, sophisticated tools for such data manipulation, the causes of potential safety deficiencies also lie in the potential for fraud in the field of social engineering and the methods used for data theft or phishing. For example, fictitious enquiries about accounts or passwords are woven into social media. Accordingly, the continuous adaptation and improvement of security mechanisms is an essential task for online banking providers. The aim must be to always be one step ahead of the criminals.

Online-Banking neu betrachtetFor the transaction number (TAN) new variants have been established over time with enhanced security features: In addition to the paper-based version of the TAN including its index-based successor iTAN created with chipTAN or smartTAN method, they offer the use of a separate reader in connection with customer cards or the scanning of a code displayed in online banking. Online-based methods such as mTAN or smsTAN function by sending the transaction number via SMS to the mobile phone of the customer. A relatively new method is the photoTAN in which a coloured QS code on the online transfer page is scanned and the TAN is calculated by the App installed on the smartphone. Users without a smartphone need to get a separate scanner from their bank to use the photoTAN, but with it they can exclude the potential risks of hacking attacks on smartphones.

Improvement of customer loyalty

In order to provide a platform for direct client-bank communication, some direct banks rely on a communication model similar to a chat feature. The contact request by the customer is usually received and processed within a few seconds by a service employee. In addition, branch banks see the communication possibilities as door openers to an individual consultation: By sending the request, the customer is in indirect contact with their advisor. Documents such as certificates or evidence can be passed in parallel over a secure channel to the bank. The reply or mailing of contract documentation follows the same route from the bank to the customer. 

As an extension of the portfolio beyond the purely banking or composite products, the so-called "added values" are also to be considered, such as the distribution of vouchers for online retailers or music portals for example, that from a banking perspective enable commission-based business and on the other hand increase customer loyalty through duration of the stay of the customers on their own pages. Mostly cost-free additional services such as a personal safe (eSafe), a secure storage container for important customer documents, expand the range of services.

Across all banks an online payment service is being worked on that should be a competitor as it were for market leaders from the non-banking sector. The service, which will start at the end of 2015 at the earliest according to information from various media, should then be extended next to online payments and perspectively to mobile payment methods.

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