Keeping up with the ever-increasing speed of change in digital banking is increasingly challenging, particularly for small and medium-size financial institutions, usually focused on offering a personalized experience, but unable to match the massive investments that larger banks perform. The Swiss bank HBL - Hypothekarbank Lenzburg has found the perfect equilibrium between buying a ready-made solution or building their own platform. HBL’s story shows how community banks and Credit Unions can successfully embrace the digital banking transformation process, evolving from legacy services providers to digital-first institutions.
To buy or to build? This daunting question has become almost a classic for banks and credit unions, each time there is a new digital disruption. And the life of decision-makers in financial institutions is not becoming easier, as digital trends and technologies evolve at an ever-increasing rate. Keeping pace with the speed of change is an increasingly difficult challenge to overcome, especially for small and medium-size financial institutions.
For smaller organizations, undertaking large, complex digital transformation projects is not a viable option. Their need is for a strong digital banking platform that can be implemented quickly and easily, allowing for a quick go-to-market strategy. Additionally, these platforms need to be flexible enough to enable some level of differentiation and human interaction, allowing banks to customize their offerings to the needs of their particular customers and to constantly adapt their offer to new market demands. After all, many of these local banking players pride themselves on understanding better the precise needs of their audience and are known for offering a more personalized service.
Digital transformation is only real when it further connects financial institutions and end-users
The digital transformation process is especially challenging for financial institutions used to foster one-on-one communication with each and every one of their customers and members. At first, digital technology was perceived as a remote, robotic, and expressionless alternative, only capable of offering a one-size-fits-all approach. Nevertheless, digital banking technology has evolved over the years, constantly offering new value propositions and services, and enabling banks and credit unions to customize and differentiate their offer.
HBL success case is a real example of what a small bank can achieve with a clear vision and sound strategic planning. HBL took the approach of re-evaluating its entire digital strategy with the aim of creating a culture of continuous innovation. In particular, the bank wanted to offer its customers a modern digital banking platform that could provide internet and mobile banking and would successfully integrate with the Finstar core banking platform, which would also allow it to readily develop and add new services or features.
Using ebankIT’s low-code development tool, ebankIT Studio, the new channel design was developed in three months, including the deployment of the internet banking channel. After this first deployment, HBL continued with the rollout to all of its clients and deployed the mobile apps (iOS and Android).
In line with HBL’s vision of continuous innovation, the new platform has also improved its ability to quickly add new requirements, with updates to the platform deployed every four weeks. The bank has also added new services to the offering, such as the new QR-bill, a Switzerland-wide initiative launched in June 2020 that will see traditional payment slips replaced by QR codes.
- HBL’s digital transformation story demonstrates how small financial institutions can successfully undertake the shift from legacy services provider to modern, digital-first institution.
- The bank had a clear vision of its need to modernize and build a digital platform and frontend that would enable it to be more responsive to client needs.
- HBL also had clarity on the type of provider that it required: one that could provide a strong standard functionality with speed to market but that would also be prepared to listen to its specific requirements and take a partnership approach.
- Its selection of ebankIT was driven by the fact that the platform met its requirements and by the vendor’s innovative vision, omnichannel capabilities, and its willingness to engage and work as a partner.
- This strong relationship has enabled HBL to provide its customers with a modern digital banking platform and to offer a more compelling end-to-end (transactional core and digital channels) proposition to its Finstar partner banks.
In its unique digital transformation process, HBL has transformed itself from a branch-led organization with some internet banking capabilities to an institution that offers its own customers a modern omnichannel digital banking platform. By adopting ebankIT’s solution, HBL created a banking platform with short time to market and a flexible proposition, enabling a high degree of customization to suit each and every customer’s demand.
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