The Point

Taking a Retail Banking Approach to Digital Commercial Capabilities

Jul  20 
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Troy Land  Senior Vice President, Product Management, Business Banking, Fiserv 

Retail banking receives much of the digital payments focus within the financial services industry. However, what's not discussed is the accelerated rate of growth in digital payments for the commercial segment and the need to deliver an exceptional experience to those businesses.

Financial institutions should not discount the importance of providing quality digital payments capabilities for their commercial accountholders. According to the Federal Reserve 2016 Payments Study, consumer noncash payments (cards, ACH credit and debit transfers, and checks) in 2015 are estimated to have totaled 117.5 billion transactions with a value of $28.18 trillion. The same year, businesses are estimated to have made 26.6 billion noncash payments with a value of $148.54 trillion in ACH transfers and business checks. As payments from check, ACH and cards continue to accelerate, there's no denying the magnitude of the evolution in digital payments in both the retail and commercial sectors.

No matter the size of their organizations, business owners are focusing more on simplifying processes and taking advantage of digitalization. And as they do, they expect an intuitive, frictionless digital experience for their businesses – just as they do when managing their personal finances. According to recent research from Raddon, a Fiserv company, 46 percent of firms that use mobile banking – and 49 percent of millennial-led small businesses – would consider changing institutions for better mobile banking tools.

Key Differences in the Commercial Segment

Although no one doubts the importance of a quality digital experience across all segments, there remains a clear disparity between the digital capabilities of the everyday retail accountholder versus the business user. Small businesses, in particular, need unique solutions that meet their specific needs in a way retail capabilities cannot. Many are sole proprietorships, which utilize these digital services differently.

Businesses look to primary financial institutions to provide digital financial services capabilities that fit how they work. From their mobile devices, they want to be able to quickly complete tasks, such as checking account balances, depositing and viewing checks, managing account alerts, and viewing account statements. Small businesses are increasingly led by millennials, who expect leading-edge technological capabilities.

Building an Optimum Commercial Payments Experience

A few simple approaches can help bridge the gap between your financial institution's retail and commercial capabilities:

  • Align your digital roadmap to include both retail and commercial representation. Although these areas tend to be separated within many financial institutions, the needs of both segments overlap. Interlock across the organization is a must
  • Partner with a provider that fully understands and can properly support your business users' comprehensive digital needs. A small business user may resemble a retail accountholder, but larger corporate roles vary significantly. As such, the commercial experience should be tailored for specific roles and needs

  • Look beyond the user interface. A good front end is only as good as the back end that supports it. In addition to delivering a strong user experience, a platform must perform critical tasks and functions
  • Understand your accountholders and their needs. Assess and survey your customers and members, and take a leading role in further developing and monetizing your commercial accounts

Among many other variables, the separation of retail and commercial groups within most organizations doesn't help. However, by understanding and accounting for the full business continuum, financial institutions will become more adept at addressing and shaping the digital payment landscape.