Dec 9, 2020

Financial times are a-changin’: Retail bank transformation

Critical Software
Digital Transformation
Critical Software
4 min
Financial times are a-changin’: Digitalisation in European Retail Banks
Digital transformation is the term of the day when it comes to European retail banking. But what does it actually mean...

Digital transformation is the term of the day when it comes to European retail banking. But what does it actually mean?

The digital customer

Digital is, bit by bit, taking over every aspect of our lives. From ordering products online to hailing a taxi, there’s an app for that. In financial services, things are no different. ‘Digital transformation’ is the generic term employed by most financial services companies to denote the gradual implementation of digital solutions to their internal and external activities. 

But is there a meaning behind the ‘digital transformation’ buzzword?

The simple touch

Customer journey simplification has been noted and acted upon by various retail banks across Europe. One major UK retail bank has introduced a single customer view enabling customers to view their pensions and savings products alongside their current account. Similarly, Scandinavian banks have come together to offer customers an API gateway, allowing access to their accounts through one app even if they are with different banks.

If there was ever an opportunity for banks to promote integration between accounts and services, it’s now. The Payment Services Directive 2, whose deadline for implementation in the European Union is 31 December 2020, democratises retail banking by encouraging Open Banking, in itself compelling traditional banks to allow fintech and digital-first challenger banks to access customer accounts. In this changing landscape, it’s likely new apps integrating customer accounts and services will become more common, simplifying banking for all.

Making it personal

Integration is the first step towards making the customer’s journey more amenable. The next step is to personalise that journey. Traditional banks are finding that, in order to compete with neobanks and fintech, they must allow the customer as much control over the personalisation of their finances as possible. These may not just involve services directly related to managing their finances, but also more peripheral services like financial advice tools and upcoming payment alerts. Indeed, a major UK retail bank has introduced a bespoke financial advice tool accessible via a customer’s smartphone, offering guidance on financial issues ranging from mortgages to savings planning.

The main reason traditional retail banks are keen to personalise is that FinTechs and challengers are already one step ahead. One digital-first challenger bank founded in the UK in 2014 has adopted personalisation as the cornerstone of its operations. From security measures based on customers’ biometric data (including face and voice recognition) to the ability to change the app’s logo and name, there’s no question banks like this are leading the way when placing customer experience at the heart of their operations.

The cloud uncovered

As well as being personalised and easy to access, the software banking customers use needs to be quick. One way expedient services can be achieved is through implementing cloud data storage practices. But what else can the cloud offer? 

One theme across the retail banking sector is the adoption of cloud platforms to manage customers’ personal and financial data. Traditional banks, previously reluctant to introduce cloud technology due to cybersecurity fears, have become more open to the prospect of cloud platforms, aiming to unlock their data processing and storage capabilities as well as their product development opportunities. 

One major UK bank has developed a storage facility for customers’ documents, be it bank statements or travel insurance confirmation, powered by the cloud, while another has used the cloud in their online open banking application, including card control, password management and customisable expenses tracking. Other large banks have started to use the cloud to decrease obsolescence risk, with a software-as-a-service based approach to the cloud enabling consistent updates when needed. 

Traditional banks have been slow in introducing the cloud to their working practices, mainly because of cybersecurity concerns. But now there’s no question that – with verifiably secure software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers becoming more prevalent – these concerns are starting to be assuaged. It’s no wonder the forecast for digital transformation in retail banking over the next decade is that there’ll be plenty of cloud.

How can a bank transform digitally?

With the rise of the digital customer and the growth of challenger banks and fintechs, incumbents must ensure this investment is not superficial and encompasses all aspects of digital transformation.

But investment may not be practicable or even enough. Open Banking means that traditional banks will need to be more willing to work with fintechs and market entrants to develop solutions for dealing with their customers. This is a culture change more than anything; if banks are not willing to accept the need to engage with their evermore digital customers, they are likely to be left behind.

To discover how banks can stay ahead of the curve, read Critical Software's white paper on its work in helping financial institutions to digitally transform their products and services.

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Jun 18, 2021

The Ultimate FinTech & InsurTech LIVE Event

3 min
We release three new speaker names for the FinTech and InsurTech virtual conference that can’t be missed, streaming live from London

From October 12th-14th, 2021, BizClik’s FinTech & InsurTech event will bring together influential executives from around the world. Streamed live from Tobacco Dock, London, this three-day event will be an excellent way to finish the year strong, gaining the confidence your company needs to move forward into the future. 

With keynote addresses from global leaders, dynamic roundtable discussions, and extensive networking opportunities, FinTech & InsurTech 2021 will expand your network, deliver insight, and enhance your organisation’s reach. 

Already confirmed speakers include Colin Payne, VP & NextGen FS Global Lead at Capgemini; Dipu KV, President and Head of Operations & CX at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company; Bryan Caroll, CEO at TNEX; and Lucy Demery, Managing Director at Barclays.

The event will include:


  • Keynote addresses from respected industry leaders
  • Dynamic live roundtables (inc. Q&A)
  • Fireside discussions
  • Inspirational Speakers & Presentations
  • Extensive networking opportunities



Meet the Speakers

Each week, from now until the event, we’ll be announcing the latest speakers who are set to grace our physical or virtual stage, prepared to share their knowledge and insight with attendees. 

Our second batch consists of:


Scott Abraham

Currently the Senior Vice President of Business Development & Fintech for Mastercard UK & Ireland, a position he’s held since 2014, Abraham describes himself as “a proven and successful senior sales leader with experience across a wide range of industries, sectors, and channels.” 

Graduating from the University of Northampton in 1994 with a BA in Economics and Law, he worked for nine years at Sainsburys - eventually responsible for banking the company’s revenue and running its ATMs - and then Barclaycard for three years as Head of Client Management. In 2007, Abraham became VP of Client Management at American Express, and then VP and GM Global Supplier Relations EMEA in 2012.

In his current role at Mastercard, Abraham is accountable for the acceptance of all payments and products through all channels, devices, and technologies across UK and Ireland. In addition, he oversees the deployment of innovative new payment tech within the region.


Alistair Fraser-Hawkins

Fraser-Hawkins’ role as CEO, UK Corporate, at Marsh McLennan is the continuation of a long and successful insurance career, which has included being London Sales Director for JLT Group and Branch Director for Willis Towers Watson.

Marsh prides itself on being a company that hires top-tier talent, does work that impacts peoples’ lives, and offers its employees the opportunity to make a difference. This is clearly an attitude that aligns with Fraser-Hawkins’ own values; regarding the insurer’s UK Young Professionals initiative, a support network to help young professionals in their development, he said:

"I am passionate about developing talent and our Young Professional CRG provides a brilliant community for our Young Professional colleagues to discuss key issues relevant early in their careers, as well as an environment to promote the skills, learning and network for success."


Mike Massaro

Massaro is currently the CEO of Boston fintech Flywire, a role he took on in 2013. He first joined the team in 2012 as VP of Business Development, but it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial skills were redirected to leading the entire company’s high-growth strategy worldwide.

An expert in domestic and international payments and billing, enterprise technology sales, strategic alliances, enterprise software, SaaS, product management and marketing, and much more, Massaro is a consummate finance professional whose credentials befit the leadership of a prominent global payments fintech.

His previous positions include Consultant at PwC and Product Line Manager at Oracle, and he maintains a Mentor role at startup accelerator MassChallenge. He graduated magna cum laude from Babson College with a BS in Information Systems and Finance.


This event is set to be one of the year's most unmissable. If you want to get leading perspectives on the future of fintech and insurtech, go to Eventbrite and purchase your tickets now.

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