The financial landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, driven by rapidly changing customer expectations. There is a growing demand for convenience and the capability of banks to craft instant, customised as well as frictionless customer experiences has come to determine their success in the digital economy.

Banks across the world are reinventing their business models to capitalise on this shift and are working towards a single goal - a super app that supports the entire customer journey and offers its customers products and services across industries on a single platform. By building strategic partnerships with service providers, banks can provide their services and products on the app too, making it a one-stop shop for its users.

From booking flights to applying for loans, it allows users to fulfil almost any financial, leisure, or lifestyle need they may have. Through super apps, banks can offer a seamless, integrated, contextualised and efficient experience to the retail consumer as well as their corporate customers.

According to a recent study by Accenture, 50 per cent of consumers interacted with their bank through a mobile app or website at least once a week. This trend indicates that consumers and businesses today expect their banks be a tap away and swiftly adapt to their digital needs. We believe, super apps are the answer to this growing demand for convenience in banking processes.

An ocean of opportunity

Through super apps, banks will be able to rethink their business model and build a marketplace that is aligned to their corporate and retail consumer business strategies. Now, as Covid-19 has accelerated the acceptance of digital change across consumer and corporate segments, it has become crucial for banks to capitalize on this shift to stay pertinent.

Super apps will integrate and streamline day to day financial functions like paying phone bills, booking cabs etc. onto one platform that users can access anytime and anywhere. The platform will allow the bank’s corporate customers to migrate to the new digital business model swiftly and subsequently expand to other markets. It will enable them to deliver a deeper and wider customer engagement, while at the same time noting lower operating costs and access to new data sources.

An apt example is provided by Oracle on the framework – imagine a situation where a SME client, a possible boutique shoemaker with physical stores only in one region can leverage the bank’s platform to migrate towards an e-commerce, omni-platform business model to tap into the bank’s mass customer base across the globe.

This shift to a more efficient and profitable process will lead to higher customer acquisition and strong brand recognition in the market.

Using data to build an ecosystem

Possessing boundless customer data and knowing what it means are two very different things. Super apps will enable banks to improve their data management and analytics capabilities. It will efficiently utilize customer data and share it across various service areas and lines of business to develop a better view of the audience.

Social media and transactional histories provide a key database for super apps. This allows banks to fine tune their operational processes and better evaluate risks for users that apply for loans and other offerings. Additionally, the data can be used to better target financial products to customers, at the exact time that they need them.

Super apps will enable a rich flow of information between entities using open data architecture, APIs for Third-Party Integrations, and enhanced CX-based offerings.

It will support processes such as digital onboarding by real-time KYC, unified authentication, biometric and facial recognition, and other AI-powered features to enable self-service for customers with an omnichannel experience.

The future of banking

The benefits of the super app are vast for both banks and users.

The omnichannel platform will allow banks to understand each user thoroughly and therefore meet their expectations for ease, convenience, and speed across numerous sectors and industries.

Most importantly, it will allow banks to shift their focus from simply conducting transactions towards building more long-term relationships that will lead to higher rates of customer acquisition, satisfaction and subsequently, stronger brand loyalty.

Whereas for users, it means they can enjoy a holistic banking experience that is crafted to their exact preference. It will allow them the convenience of accessing a plethora of services on the same platform along with a consistent user experience. At the same time, they will enjoy seamless connectivity to all the mini-apps in the ecosystem, simplifying their daily life. Super-apps will redefine financial processes for users, making banking a rather enjoyable experience rather than a tedious chore.

In 2021, the accelerated digital transformation continues to occur, requiring banks to take a new look into their digital infrastructure and customer offerings. The Super app is an opportunity for banks to redefine themselves and become much more than just financial service providers, in the process, revolutionizing the entire landscape.

(The author is Chief Head of Technology, Transformation and Information, Mashreq Bank)