by Jacob Leick, Senior Product Manager, Alkami
As some of financial institutions’ (FIs) most valuable clients, businesses expect more from their banks and credit unions, particularly in the digital realm. In comparing a FI’s innovative retail banking solution with what’s available for business banking, businesses often find shortcomings, impacting the bottom line for FIs. To overcome this, banks and credit unions must define and develop experiences that improve the full spectrum of business interactions, from back office support to the end-user experience.
In our latest Gold Standard Series event, Evolving Business Banking to Meet User Expectations, Aite Group’s Christine Barry joined us to explore the digital banking needs businesses seek. What follows are the highlights and key takeaways from our presentation.
Seamlessly scalable features that continuously meet needs of growing businesses
Banks and credit unions continue to serve small businesses from retail platforms, leaving businesses feeling misunderstood by their financial institutions.
While this approach may be effective for some businesses, it doesn’t work for an increasing number of others. Businesses are growing more sophisticated and need true business capabilities like entitlements, positive pay, payment options beyond bill pay, and more. Keeping businesses on retail platforms also puts them at risk of being camouflaged as consumers, making for missed opportunities for financial institutions. In fact, more than a third of businesses find it difficult to manage their finances because business and personal account information is combined in their digital banking experience.
Having a platform that has the necessary functionality to not only attract larger businesses but also to continuously deepen relationships with small ones and offer additional capabilities as needed is critical to success.
Extensibility with third-party partnerships
Data shows that small businesses are in need of extensibility—75% of small businesses state their primary FI offers few products and services they would be willing to pay for (Aite Group). And only 32% of those banking with a community bank view their bank as innovative. Yet now more than ever, small businesses need their FIs to be true partners and offer them the latest tools to overcome recent challenges. To offer those tools, FIs will likely partner with fintechs.
But to create a modern user experience, FIs will need a digital banking platform that seamlessly integrates third-party experiences. Alkami is focused on extensibility in three areas that matter most for business banking:
- Single sign on (SSO): Lightweight integration into the Alkami Platform providing FIs with more options for third-party integration
- Software Development Kit (SDK): Provides FIs an opportunity to set themselves apart from others with direct access to develop on the Alkami Platform
- Alkami API: Empowers FIs or third-party partners to leverage the power of the Alkami Platform to build out their own solutions and power any business strategy that can enhance user experience and extend beyond digital banking
A focus on user experience
Users aren’t just comparing their digital banking experience to other financial institutions’, but to their best digital experience in general. It can be overwhelming for FIs to know they’re being compared to large tech companies, but they don’t need a groundbreaking product to be an innovator. FIs can add value by rethinking existing capabilities to better align with user needs.
This requires hearing what’s needed directly from the target audience. Testing with business users is extremely difficult, but is absolutely critical to succeed in online banking.
For instance, when Alkami conducted user testing on ACH pass thru, we did an on-site evaluation of 15 businesses across five platforms, aggregated the results, and found common pain points like complex workflows and unclear error messages. These common issues cause frustration for high-value business clients.
As a result, we created prototypes, interviewed businesses, refined the solution, and developed a new way to pass thru files with only four clicks, all while providing simple error messages that clearly show users how to make necessary changes.
Better reporting and data-driven insights
Most FIs are still only scratching the surface with analytics while businesses want actionable advice and recommendations—65% of businesses say they need to create their own reports because their FIs aren’t delivering insightful, accurate reports (Aite Group).
For quality reports, clean, quality data is required. But that’s not all FIs need.
Through our research, we built business banking capabilities that address business needs. For busy users, we allow quick monitoring of balance trends, one of many features that help translate what business users see in their minds when they think of their finances.
We also enable instant report access by providing integrated reports throughout the business experience: no more screenshots of every ACH submission taken for a business’s records.
Finally, to address needs for every unique business, we provide detailed custom reporting capabilities that allow businesses to gather what they need when they need it.
Ultimately, we came away from our research with three distinct learnings: business users are busy, they favor instant report access, and every business is unique.
The definition of banking is expanding and business strategies are evolving to meet current challenges. The right tech provider offers more than features — they provide a way to deeply connect with businesses.
In the end, technology is needed to place more control in the hands of small businesses and their FI partners.