Managing the impact of COVID-19 on Banks

It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has severely impacted the way in which customers can interact with their banks. As the UK entered lockdown, banks had to manage an unexpected influx of queries to an already diminished service within the call centres, not to mention the sharp uptake in demand for online and digital services. There was a realisation that established processes and digital offerings needed to pivot quickly to meet these new norms, while maintaining the highest level of security for customers. So how did they manage, and what could have helped them along the way?

The move towards a complete digital banking experience was already happening, European regulations for electronic payment services (such as PSD2 and Open Banking) highlighted the importance of a secure and competitive online payment service experience. 

Symphonic’s agile and dynamic policy generation capabilities became a key tool in confronting changing priorities. Our platform allowed banks to easily enhance functionality on mobile devices and to integrate additional online payment services. Symphonic helped ensure a quick development cycle to meet new necessities without an overhaul in business logic to accommodate these disparate objectives.  

The main pressure points caused by COVID-19 were oriented around digital provisions for Account Information Services (AIS) and Payment Information Services (PIS). Having already been integrated with a number of the relevant providers of both AIS and PIS the task at hand was predominantly about expansion of controls to the end user. We started with a number of key facts:

  • Users needed to be able to interact with their accounts securely without additional bank involvement. 
  • Vendors need to be able to securely accept payment from Bank customers. 
  • The majority of user interactions were through mobile devices. 

Each of these came with additional risk and complexity. New resources would need protecting, enhancements to current services would need safeguarding and third party communication would need to be modified. 

The banks had a necessity to operate and maintain a collection of distinct technologies across mobile, web or alternative platforms. In many cases, Symphonic was treated as a centralised source of business logic for access control and the orchestrator for access determination. This allowed the banks to quickly make changes to the current API, consumer request structure and unique identifier permeation ensuring that the bank had a self-sufficient model.

So what have we learned? 

Banks can meet unexpected circumstances head on if they have designed for agility. 

The identified problems of increase in digital uptake and demand on bank resources caused by COVID-19 have been successfully mitigated by those forward thinking banks. Call volumes to call-centres decreased, the uptake of users on mobile platforms increased, improvements to account and information based services occurred across multiple platforms. 

Moving forward there exists in these agile banks a model to identify and amend current limitations, making dynamic changes to how digital services operate. Enabling banks to deliver greater customer interaction and an improved customer experience.

Banks that are using fine grained authorisation tools, well integrated with current systems, are able to be more agile and respond to unprecedented events quickly and more efficiently than those that do not.

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