Articles

Transforming a Bank’s Value Network with Automation

By Abhijit Chakarvarty

Michael Porter’s value chain has been one of the top seminal business management ideas that saw business operations with through a new lens. Just like the value chain resulted in concepts like value creation and value pricing leading to phenomenal growth in global business scale and operations in the last 50 years, we are now seeing a similar scenario in the financial services industry with intelligent automation.  

At the turn of the century, we saw a new concept emerge that resulted in changing the business dynamics in the Y2K. This new business concept came to be known as value network, a series of interactions between individuals, entities, organizations, departments, and systems that collectively work towards benefitting the entire group or ecosystem. This new concept had an astounding impact on how businesses and markets operated and paved the course of today’s business ecosystem. For instance, the rise of Apple and its ecosystem can be attributed to this shift.  

A similar shift is also taking place in the financial services industry, where the digitization, embedment, and now decentralization of the payments ecosystem with the commercialization of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, procure to pay (P2P) lending are being touted as the next big thing. 

Given the pervasive technical and innovative initiatives that are emerging at breakneck speed, it is a necessity necessary to keep transforming and innovating. This is especially relevant for the financial services industry which have millennials as customers and will soon begin catering to GenZ.

To digitally transform a bank’s value network let’s start by stating the three core areas of a bank’s value network namely, network promotion & contract management, service provisioning & billing, and platform operations. 

With a two-sided value network, the bank fundamentally connects a borrower with a depositor and thus, becomes the enabler of value creation for such a network. In doing so, a bank delivers core banking and back-office operations, payments and lending functions, and risk and treasury management activities.  

For each of these areas, hundreds of functions and duties must be seamlessly executed with precision. Today, the increase in business volumes and scale of operations has led to bankers asking, “What if these complex and time-consuming operations can be boosted with robots (bots) assisting humans to accelerate speed, increase productivity, and assure the precision of key banking functions?”  

Automation Banking Benefits

Some of the key operational areas where bots can and, in many cases, are assisting humans to realize the true potential of an enterprise are customer service, compliance accounts payable, credit card processing, mortgage processing, fraud detection, know your customer (KYC) process, general ledger, report automation and account closure process. 

Automation Process heatmap

By embracing bots, banks can improve the customer experience while reducing costs and improving efficiency. Increased automation combined with more efficient processes makes the day-to-day easier for teams and individual contributors as they will spend less time on tedious manual work, and more time on profitable projects. Let humans contribute to high-value innovation, and robots help in maintaining and running operations to ensure an efficient and effective enterprise. To realize the true value of bots, and for a bank to embark on its digital transformation journey, the right approach, executive sponsor, business alignment, process discovery & design, pilot, roadmap, and a center of excellence (CoE) is essential to succeed. By using tactics such as data alignment, problem framing, road mapping, and piloting new robots, a bank will be well poised to reach its automation goals.

Blanc Labs has deep industry knowledge and proven experience working with leading banks to gain efficiencies through intelligent automation solutions. We take a holistic approach, helping financial services companies build the necessary foundation and setting them up for long-term success. 

Book a consultation with Blanc Labs to discover the impact of our Intelligent Automation solution. 

 

Articles

Open Banking API Challenges: 4 Areas That Need Intervention

By Steven Chung and Bob Paajanen

woman solving api integration challenges

As financial institutions find their way into the digital world, they face competition from several non-bank forces, including FinTechs and Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. FinTechs and Big Tech have begun rewriting the rules for the finance industry creating new ways of banking and new revenue streams. By offering speed, innovation, and unbundled financial services, digital non-banking entities are luring away customers from banks and credit unions. Open banking promises financial institutions an entry into the changing banking ecosystem by tapping into third-party application programming interfaces (APIs). But without the right strategy, banks may find themselves saddled with high costs, low time to value, vulnerable data systems, and no ROI to show.  

API Challenges 

As API adoption grows, so does the concern around how these APIs will be built or bought; how they will be managed; and the security and privacy risks that they present.  

API Standardization and Documentation 

The biggest concern around API adoption is standardization with more than 52% of organizations finding it a challenge. Unfortunately, there is no universal identity management framework which means that companies must rely on their developers to build their own management systems. Without proper documentation or style guides, different teams of developers within the organization may come up with varying standards for how the APIs are built and consumed, leading to issues with integration and management. The ‘State of Software Quality: API 2021’ study by SmartBear found that 54% of respondents pegged “accurate and detailed documentation as the second most important characteristic they needed in an API as an API consumer, ease of use being the topmost. Yet, close to 40% of the respondents did not use API management software or were using an in-house API management tool.  

API Security  

As banks use more APIs to enable digital businesses and provide web and mobile experiences to customers, the chances of security breaches also go up. There have been several incidents of API attacks and data leaks this year alone. API security is made worse by the fact that many organizations lack an inventory of the APIs they create or use from third parties. Research firm Gartner found that the common theme among many of the API breaches was that “the breached organization didn’t know about their unsecured API until it was too late.” Sadly, there is no tool that will automatically discover vulnerabilities in the APIs. Implementing API threat protection and access control will require endpoint security (processes, infrastructure, and protocols). Without an API management platform in place, this will present further challenges.  

“By 2022, API abuses will move from an infrequent to the most-frequent attack vector, resulting in data breaches for enterprise web applications.”
Gartner (2021)

API Governance standards and privacy regulations 

Government-dictated compliance frameworks around APIs are still some time away for Canadian financial institutions. This means that developers at banks and credit unions must rely on varying standards, including security standards, when it comes to how API integrations will work and be used. Without governance standards, financial institutions run the risk of exposing themselves to fraudulent third parties and exposing customer information in ways that could be used against their interests.  

API Reliability & Performance 

To support new functionalities and user experiences, developers in financial institutions are relying more and more on third-party APIs, APIs from business partners, and from other business units within the enterprise. Many of these APIs are licensed from providers that also look after their daily operations. Due to the composite nature of these applications, an outage with one third-party API can impact any application that is using that API. As of April 2022, there were close to 7.8 million failed API calls in the UK according to Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE). The financial entities with the most failed calls are the big banks including Barclays, Lloyds, and HSBC. Frequent API errors create a negative impact on customer experience and may lead to discontinued product use.  

Is your bank ready to adopt open banking? 

API integrations are a necessity as we move towards an open banking system. Financial institutions must have a clear strategy on how they want to implement, govern, monetize, and market APIs to ensure a frictionless customer experience and better business results.  

Blanc Labs has partnered with Axway to provide specialized solutions that make API integrations and management more efficient and cost-effective. Benefits of our unified API platform include:   

  1. Increased productivity, as developers are easily able to find and repurpose APIs instead of duplicating efforts or wasting time searching for them.   
  2. Less technical complexity by unifying and simplifying API services across the organization  
  3. Better security through a unified view of all APIs  
  4. Faster upgrades of legacy systems through an API-first layer allowing you to add new services more easily  
  5. More robust governance through centralized documentation that multiple teams of developers can reference 

Book a demo or discovery session with Blanc Labs to learn about the impact of our API solutions for banking. 

 

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