Germany’s Banks: Delivering a Digital Future
The finance industry is undergoing significant change, with technology creating opportunities to transform the payments space. At a BNY Mellon-hosted roundtable in Frankfurt, TMI sat down with a group of banking experts from Europe’s largest economy, to discuss how they are adapting to the increasingly digital landscape, and how collaboration is crucial if banks are to meet the evolving needs of clients.
At the table
Gerald Ertl Programme Lead, Digital Corporate Clients, Commerzbank
Olaf Peters Director, Strategy Project Digitalisation, Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen
Gerhard Jurksch Head of International Division, Sparkasse Aachen
Chenghui Xu Dealer, Global Markets Department, Bank of China Frankfurt Branch
Daniel Sylla Head of Treasury, ProCredit Bank, Germany
Güngör Taner Relationship Management & Business Development Germany, Treasury Services, BNY Mellon
Iason Chantzis Project Manager, EMEA Innovation Centre, BNY Mellon
Peter Williams Financial Journalist (Chair)
Adapting to the digital environment
TMI: Thank you to everyone for coming today. Firstly, with new technology capabilities unfolding at an astonishing rate, how are you adapting to this evolving landscape? What is your digitalisation strategy?
Peters: Our agenda focuses on four main points: innovation, transparency, efficiency and, lastly, cultural change, which is the most important. We have also established an internal network of digital competencies, where we exchange our experiences, and we are a platinum partner of the TechQuartier in Frankfurt – a co-working space for start-ups. Furthermore, we talk to clients and fintechs and look at where we can collaborate and learn from one another.
Chantzis: In financial services, we tend to feel like we have to lock ourselves away for three years and build things ourselves, but we don’t need to do that any more. We can collaborate with people who have a niche understanding and the ability to do something we can’t necessarily do – or we don’t have the time to do. So, we have really started looking at how we can work in partnership with other experts, and our clients, to develop customised solutions.
Ertl: The future is all about technology, and we would like to have a completely technology-focused approach – to be a technology company. Our digital journey starts with the client because clients are at the centre of our thinking and developing. And we support our staff to ensure they have a clear understanding of what we aim to achieve.
Chantzis: It’s all about the client experience – optimising that by gaining efficiencies through new platforms and ecosystems. We run workshops with clients to understand their pain points, and then we work together to see how we can leverage technology to address those issues and help them grow their business. At BNY Mellon, NEXENSM is the digital ecosystem that enables us to consolidate our solutions, our clients’ solutions and third party services through an open source cloud-based platform.
Xu: There are two keys things that should be considered in a digitalisation strategy: customer needs and co-operation. The customer always has high expectations, and banks need to provide more value-added options and functions to fulfil their needs. The second factor, co-operation, stems from the fact that a lot of new players – eCommerce companies and new technology firms – are coming into the market, and they are able to react very quickly. We have a digitalisation centre here in Frankfurt and we’re also looking at co-operating with eCommerce firms.
Sylla: People should always be thinking about ways in which they could do their daily job more efficiently; how they could streamline processes and digitalise things. The ProCredit group has its own IT company, Quipu, which is an advantage because the whole core system is designed by one company. And that works well. We ring them up, draft a business process and they see what they can do for us.
Ertl: There are two key factors. The first is the need for a changed customer experience. Customers are very familiar with a high degree of usability and functionality, and they also expect a comparable level of digitalisation when they use banking products. The second crucial aspect is velocity – speed to market is becoming very important. We’ve changed our approach to minimal viable products (MVP) – to be able to bring things faster to market. Right now, 600 people are working at our digital campus in Frankfurt, dedicated to working on the digitalisation of processes, and at the end of the year it will top 1,000.