A world disrupted: how to embrace the tech revolution

While some banks consider technology ‘innovation’ to be synonymous with ‘disruption’, Mark Buitenhek, ING, believes there are big opportunities for banks and their customers within this change. Tapping into those opportunities will not only require a re-wiring of infrastructures, but a shift in mindsets too.

In this increasingly digital marketplace, banks must not only look for ways to leverage evolving technologies but also develop new ways of thinking about technology altogether.

Mark Buitenhek portrait

For many large transaction banks that are still grappling with a patchwork of legacy systems, this may be easier said than done. But agile technology will be a defining feature of the future of banking.

What’s more, new technologies aren’t the only driver of change. Increasingly, customers – both retail and corporate – are demanding greater speed, simplicity, and the ability to interact seamlessly with their banks. Platform and channel upgrades are a therefore a pre-requisite.

At the same time, through initiatives such as the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD 2), regulators are guiding banks towards an open banking environment. This will be reliant on API technology and interoperable systems, so again, new ways of working with technology will be required.

As much as this level of change is disruptive for more traditional banks, the combination of these forces is creating a significant opportunity for the industry to take an enormous step forward. Nevertheless, this will require a fresh mindset towards banking technology.

At ING, we’re changing the way we work to make the most of new technologies. Our ‘Think Forward’ strategy, which comes right from the top of the organisation, clearly focuses on using technology as an enabler to make sure that we are serving our clients in the best way possible in the digital world.

With that in mind, we’ve entered into collaborative partnerships with FinTech companies to ensure that our mobile applications are cutting-edge. We’ve also redesigned the whole customer journey so that it flows smoothly from A to B in the quickest time possible.

In our retail bank in the Netherlands, for example, we can now set up a new account, complete with bank card, in around 15 minutes – including all the necessary know your customer (KYC) components. The way we’ve achieved that is not just through new technology, however.

Across both the retail and wholesale banks, we’ve re-organised our internal teams so that marketing, product and IT are no longer siloed. Instead, they work together to develop the best overall solution for the customer. And technology is no longer the last piece of the puzzle. In fact, the technology gurus are now our first port of call for product development.

Furthermore, we’ve embraced the FinTech way of working. Gone are the days of hot-desking and remote access. We now encourage our teams to come into the office and collaborate in shared open spaces. Innovation is also rewarded and encouraged – our Innovation Studio even gives employees the opportunity to become FinTech ‘intrapreneurs’. So what can others learn from this approach? That although technology may be driving change at the very heart of the banking industry, new technologies will only thrive where there is an innovative spirit and a willingness to adapt.