My 7 rules for a successful digital bank

A bank is an information technology company. Everything revolves around IT. Therefore, information technology is a fundamental part of business. And, as such, it must itself become a promoter of digital disruption and participate in a proactive way with company management. It is research and development and manufacture all at the same time, living side… Read more »


A bank is an information technology company. Everything revolves around IT. Therefore, information technology is a fundamental part of business. And, as such, it must itself become a promoter of digital disruption and participate in a proactive way with company management.

It is research and development and manufacture all at the same time, living side by side with the market. The digitization of one and the other makes them inseparable (see the paragraph on marketing) and necessary to build strong digital competencies. This is how we consider IT at Che Banca!, as a part of business, and because IT is equal to other parts of business of a commercial nature it can participate in defining strategies for prioritizing planning. It produces business. It is not (only) maintenance, but rather,  must have the “courage” to be a vehicle for change.

The processes are the logistic chain, with the goal of simplifying and maximizing user experience. Just as IT is the research and development and manufacture (with mktg), the overseeing of processes is the true logistic chain, to the client and for the client. The current frenetic technological development and normative changes impose a strong overseeing of processes, starting from the client and not with compliance, and a systematic review of it all, at least every 2-3 years. Risk and compliance, in turn, are digitized, taking possession of technologies, understanding them, in order to better use them within the context of banking. This year at Che Banca! we reviewed, and are still, in fact, reviewing all of our core business processes in order to keep customer experience high, reconfirm ourselves as the best bank online for customer satisfaction, exploit technological development, which, in fact, can even become strong enablers for mitigating risk.

The market becomes digitized. Digital disruption has made traditional marketing obsolete. Strong digital competencies are now needed. The design of user experience, the development of high digital content products, the push towards omni-channel marketing, the strong mobile impact, social networks, gaming, data mining, and the arrival of big data changes competencies (see paragraph on digital commerce). At Che Banca! mktg thinks primarily in digital, from the design of user experience to that of products, branding, CRM, everything. It is a driver. It is not simply about doing leafleting. It does branding, communication, products, multi-channeling, acquisition and retention, all starting from the digital ecosystem.

The bank must be a brand. Often, the bank sector underestimates the value of being perceived as a brand. This is a serious mistake. How can a preference brand and brand loyalty be created if there is no brand? The inertia, sooner or later, will end. At Che Banca! we really believe in this. We invest in our brand, in its development, we have given it a strong and distinctive trait (“follow the yellow”), not only with communication but also with the strong consistency in what we do. We want to be a Lovemark. This is possibly the reason why we are a truly unique bank in Italy. This is also the reason why we have launched the Blogs Che Futuro and, more recently, SmartMoney, letting them live, however, their own lives. Because we believe in innovation, it is part of our brand.

The bank must see digital commerce as a natural benchmark. Our clients are used to the digital standards of Amazon, eBay, etc. We cannot forget this. And we must also look at digital publishing, the digital TV of Youtube, Sky Go, Apple’s digital wallets, the interaction models of Skype, WhatsApp and social networks. It is all very easy, accessible, multi-device and mobile, one click or little more. And there is data mining. As was said above, the bank is an IT company, it manages information, but it uses very little, only to control whether there are overdrafts, or the possibility of cross selling. It is a waste. A bank statement is not merely a formal and administrative report. It must be given life, it can serve clients to better understand and plan spending and savings, that retirement is not so far away, or even just a money transfer that can be foreseen, estimated, and integrated on the basis of its capacity for monthly savings. ATM’s can recognize us immediately not just dispense money. With the arrival of biometrics and wearables everything is becoming even more integrated, phygital, different. With social networks, georeferencing, and big data new information is being given to those who produce tons already and effectively do nothing with it. This is the world that we must look at when designing and thinking about our interactions with clients in the future. Who understands this will have a great competitive advantage. We are working on this at Che Banca!. We have launched FEA (Firma Elettronica Avanzata – Advanced Electronic Signature), with which thousands of contracts have been signed remotely through our home banking, from home, work, etc., without sending anything, within the past few months alone. This is the future.

The bank must be open. Externally, towards its clients and prospects, but also towards competitors and business partners and, internally, towards its own personnel. The client belongs to himself, not the bank, and can leave at any moment. It is useless to create barriers. It is better to open up, listen, be social, and even, most importantly, look for collaborations and partnerships with third parties, even startups, in order to offer the best solutions possible. Welcome to coopetition, welcome to dialog with the Big 5 or other subjects considered “dangerous”, the true enemies of the banking system. They cannot do everything and, to the contrary, they need our competencies. We are considered safer by clients. This is significant but the banking system rarely publicizes and uses this. It is a huge value that is not monetized on. And finally, internally, it is necessary to always remember that one’s own employees are consumers, clients and often in direct contact with our clients, therefore they have a very important perception of the field. At Che Banca! we are trying to be increasingly more open externally, we are working on numerous partnerships, we have launched Che Banca Grand Prix!, the first acceleration program dedicated to Fin Tech startups in Italy, we have a client service platform on Facebook that we will continue to develop, we have an internal program for suggestions and new ideas from our employees called @Idealab that works very well.

The digital bank must also think about retailing. Thousands of bank teller windows as existed in the past are no longer necessary. But some form of physical presence really helps in helping a reputation and the brand helps clients feel more secure, something that is fundamental for banking services where trust comes first among needs. Create brand preference and loyalty. And have a physical network really helps the bank evolve and better manage relations with clients who are looking for added value solutions and not just a one click bank account. The development of platforms, advanced ATM’s, banking multi-stations with video chat, with remote client services, etc., can, today, permit low cost – high impact services that are very different from traditional bank branches that we are used to. And the bank teller window, digitized but still human, or rather phygital, becomes a true point for brand service, for those who want to know the bank and for those who want physical contact in the case of investments, financing, or problems. As the Apple Stores have taught us, it must be designed as a physical point for the brand, its faithful expression, and not as an antiquated reception. Already in 2008, Che Banca! launched windows and service points that were completely different, innovative, that are still considered an international benchmark to this day. They were the first windows in Italy with a truly retailer design and not as an administrative center. Also open in the afternoon and on Saturday, where the client sits next to our operator and not behind a screen. We will continue to evolve, because digital obsolescence is valid for everything.