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Payment merger integration can't drop the ball on user experience

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There are several important factors to keep in mind when merging payment and cash management systems. A successful bank merger hinges on your IT team’s ability to effectively consolidate duplicate systems and optimize your infrastructure with the latest digital banking solutions for your customers.

When evaluating the solutions that compliment your core banking platform, digital account opening and payments and cash management systems should be evaluated differently from most back-office systems.

Taking the time to consider which technology to adopt for the new, expanded organization can be a critical success factor in the long run.

As part of your merger playbook/process, below are the critical considerations you and your integration management team should review as you begin evaluating your optimal digital banking solutions.

Which system is "best in class?" There are many technologies in market that provide various levels of payment functionality. However, in Aite Group’s Leading Providers of US Cash Management evaluation, the Best-in-Class solution was ranked on vendor stability, client strength, long term business viability, product features and client services. When selecting a payments provider, be sure to look for a strategic partner that is reliable, responsive and has proven relationships with multiple financial institutions. Data points, aggregated from a variety of financial institutions — and a number of proven successful migrations — will enable your provider to come to the table with the market knowledge to provide strategic recommendations and quickly identify actionable areas of improvement.

Future-proof functionality. While some systems offer minimum requirements, others will anchor digital transformation with next-generation capabilities. Choosing a partner that not only has the functionality that meets your needs NOW, but also is anticipating what your needs will be five years down the road and setting you up to easily get there is critical. Does your system provide a modern user interface and persona-based workflows? Can it scale to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes? Is it enabled with open APIs for connectivity with other platforms? Will it support current and future regulatory compliance requirements, and protect against payment fraud? What is their release cadence? Do they view the user experience as a differentiator?

Vendor credibility. When considering a fintech vendor to partner with, look for one with not only the best technology, but key factors that prove a solution’s viability. How long has your vendor been in business? Are they growing and financially viable? How many banking customers to they have? How many corporate customers are on their platform? What percentage of Fortune 1000 banks use the system? Are they global? Do they offer complimentary solutions such as B2B payment network, fraud detection or banking relationship management?

Conversion expertise. Does your vendor have experience in conversions and onboarding new customers quickly and successfully? To ensure success, your vendor should have a track record of conversion and onboarding projects and proven operational process combined with a breadth of experience with the most complex payment types and requirements.

Core integrations. Integration and connectivity with your core banking system is a critical requirement for a digital banking platform, and no two core implementations are ever alike. Be sure your vendor’s system has the flexibility to integrate successfully with a broad range of core systems, and customer success references that confirm their capabilities. Are you currently stuck on a core system front end that was bundled in? Now is the time to evaluate the user experience it delivers.

Continued innovation. Payments are becoming instant and invisible. At the same time, new fintech solutions threaten to reduce revenue and cut margins. Today’s leading payments systems should deliver more deposits through features such as real time payments, secure payments, cash flow forecasting, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Open APIs, insights and analytics, and personalized user experiences. Equally important is choosing a partner that can get these innovations to market quickly, as speed is imperative when competition is so fierce. Online account opening systems must be built for mobile, include integrated fraud protection and offer a simple, configurable user experience.

Leading customer-base. Many providers specialize in either SMB, commercial or corporate banking. Some specialize in retail but claim to support commercial banking. Few can boast a breadth of banking customers of all sizes, and a customer community you want to be a part of. Do they specialize in SMB? Commercial? Corporate? Those are very different types of customers. The profile of your digital banking vendor’s customer base is often a good indicator of the value their solution provides.

Commitment to customer delight. There are vendors that focus on customer satisfaction, yet few have Customer Delight as their charter. When reviewing your options, consider how long other banks stay with your solution provider. Inquire about implementation project success and whether your vendor has strong customer advocates. Is your solution provider a partner in your long term success by providing ways to delight your own customers and increase your revenue?

Intelligent customer engagement platform. As banks face stiff competition from all sides, there is a fight for primary ownership of the customer relationship. It’s now imperative for banks to focus on customer-centric digital transformation and look to an intelligent engagement platform anchored in payments & cash management expertise. Because most past platform innovation in the space has focused on driving transactional efficiency instead of improving the customer experience, the way the application works for each business is exactly the same —even if their expectations, behaviors, and needs are very different. The experience is not unique or particularly insightful for the individual user.

More and more, businesses will come to expect their applications to act as a digital assistant. This means not just providing insights, but suggestions about what to do with those insights. To do so, the application must be able to understand the personal behaviors and preferences of the user, the business context of the company’s transactions and then have the intelligence to make the right recommendations that can be turned into action.

You need to engage intelligently with customers, deliver a unified experience, and acquire, deepen and grow profitable relationships through a solution that will evolve with customer needs.

As you look for savings and efficiencies post-merger, the most successful partnerships will be those that do not simply plug-and-play digital technology into existing workflows and processes, but rather empower you to reimagine every aspect of your customer journey. Leading digital banking platforms now offer rich UI and UX capabilities, deep layers of fraud protection, and advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence that enrich the customer experience and deepen customer engagement, offering banks and their customers actionable insights to grow, manage and protect their businesses.

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