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Opinion > Recognise

Redefining SME banking technology

Monica Velasquez-Torres, chief technology officer at City of London Group | 17:32 Wednesday 20th March 2019

There has been significant change in the financial services sector in the past three to five years, one driven by new client expectations of customer experience, performance and speed of execution.

There has been significant change in the financial services sector in the past three to five years, one driven by new client expectations of customer experience, performance and speed of execution.

However, this change has yet to impact SME banking.

When Recognise embarked on its journey towards achieving a banking licence with the goal of delivering SME products, we identified technology as a key enabler. The technology platform we are building will allow us to transform how the needs of SMEs are currently being met, while maintaining collaboration with the market’s best fintechs.

Developing a transformative SME banking approach didn’t start with questions about what the right banking technology might be, or which suppliers we should use. Instead, we examined the current painful touchpoints SMEs experience and how these could be addressed. We subsequently identified that although our core aim is to develop long-term relationships, by adopting a contemporary approach to technology, we could revolutionise and streamline the complex SME lending processes. Our journey of transformation has continually aimed to achieve innovative process improvement involving the collaboration of multiple strategic suppliers.

The technology journey that we commenced back in January 2018 involved the establishment of a key principle: to think radically. The bedrock of this radical thinking continues to be a firm commitment to understanding our customers’ goals with each new technology project, and the value it can add to their business. We are moving away from a silo-based, product-to-product approach and towards a more holistic and flexible modularity, where the end-to-end value chain is involved across all products. This whole process begins with an understanding of the SME’s needs and requirements, the assorted product functions and an assessment of the various potential outcomes.

Our technology platform focuses on delivering a pleasing experience for the user. It allows lending applications to be saved offline, for loan applications to be made via both mobile and desktop interfaces, and for prompt communications to be received at each stage of an application. We are also looking at enhancing our onboarding process to make this an equally seamless customer experience.

The overall aim is to deliver a private banking experience where the customer has access to the right tools and can communicate directly with their relationship manager via different channels whenever they need to. The strategic partners we have selected in helping us achieve this goal were chosen not only because of their capabilities, but also because they share our vision and determination to change the SME banking landscape.

Getting it right for our customers and our staff lies at the core of our proposition. Delivering a personalised service depends on reducing the complexities within processes and adapting them to new technology stacks. This is what we are doing at Recognise.

As the CTO at Recognise, I am aiming to build the next digital platform — free of the limitations of legacy technology — to ensure that the ability to introduce new products, services and innovations is as frictionless as possible. The partnerships and alliances we are building are defining the bank we want to be: a challenger bank, enabled by technology and which empowers our people to serve better and faster with subtle changes in how processes are carried out during the end-to-end journey, from loan application to loan closure.

Our current technology design is continuously evolving to ensure it can be applied to the way we work, the way we make decisions, the way we see and consume technology, and to our ethos of always being open to change.

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