jeffJeff williams, executive director, branch and premium banking, natwest, discusses the growth of mobile and online banking and the role of the high street – ‘the best of both worlds’. 

If you think back to how you did your banking 20 years ago and compare it to the present day, it’s likely it has changed beyond all recognition. As technology has developed over time so NatWest has responded to the needs of customers to develop new and convenient ways of banking.

At the core of this focus, we make sure our teams are in the right place at the right time and doing the right things to improve the customer experience. This means that whilst, customers are increasingly choosing to manage their finances on the go; the traditional high street branch network continues to play a significant role.

Digital
In a report by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), mobile phone banking transactions made by British customers have nearly doubled in a single year, new industry figures compiled by the BBA show today.  Customers are now making more than 5.7 million transactions a day using smart phones and other internet-enabled technology.
At RBS Group in the UK, the busiest branch is now the ‘virtual’ one with over £30 million transferred every day through the mobile banking app.  By placing the power to manage their money in their hands, mobile banking service is transforming the way our customers do their banking. At the touch of a button personal and business customers can check their balance, transfer money between accounts, view their transaction history or pay their contacts.

Offshore NatWest was the first bank to provide mobile banking for smartphones. Since introducing an app for both personal and business customers, the Bank has continued to lead with innovations providing customers with choice and flexibility and today remains the only bank providing clients with a multi-currency app.

Among the latest app features for personal customers is ‘Get Cash’ which enables customers to withdraw money without using their bank card at an ATM.  The customer chooses the amount they wish to withdraw from the app and a secure cash code is sent to their phone which is then valid for three hours at any RBS Group cash machine.

Another new facility is the ‘Pay Your Contacts’ service which enables a customer to pay anyone with a Visa debit, credit or prepaid card using just their mobile number, even if they are not a bank customer. A revolutionary way of paying someone, it has countless uses; one of the more obvious is a quick and easy way of sending the money owed when splitting a bill with friends at a restaurant.

The NatWest offshore app, which is available to customers with accounts held in Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar, has been used in over 160 countries and had over 460,000 log ins in the last 30 days. Since the launch of the first mobile app in 2011, there have been two million transactions made using mobile devices. Since then, the bank has continued to lead with innovations providing customers with choice and flexibility and today remains the only bank providing clients with a multi-currency app.

Complementing mobile, is a preference towards social engagement. A dedicated team answer customer queries through the webchat service offered within online banking and answer customer queries received through the Bank’s Channel Island Facebook and Twitter pages.  Social media provides a proactive role of providing feedback quickly.  Across our social media accounts we engage with approximately 7,000 followers, focusing on their needs and providing excellent service. Over 77.5% of our most popular tweets relate to Helpful Banking advice for money management, how to bank on-the-go, security and saving tips.

With technology evolving the customer experience, how do these developments fit with branch based banking?

Traditional
The most important advantage of the digital revolution for the branch is that it has freed staff up so they can spend more time with customers when they need it in branch.  Deloitte recently found elderly and retired people were the fastest adopters of digital services, bucking a perception that younger customers are fuelling the appetite for online banking platforms.  By contrast younger people are increasingly meeting branch staff to discuss their financial needs.

For business customers, the iPhone app enables them to easily access and manage their finances on the move.  Their relationship manager is on hand when they need to talk through development plans and lending requirements and provide support through difficult decisions but the app gives them greater control of their money so they can focus their attention on running their business and serving customers.

Balance and Choice
It is this balance between mobile and traditional that is designed to give the customer the best of both worlds.  There will always be a place for traditional banking, where branch and telephony teams and relationship managers are on hand to meet with customers and discuss their specific needs, for example whether may relate to a mortgage or account application or just a general question.  However, for everyday transactions, banking has changed beyond recognition and technology is driving this trend.

Our commitment will remain to serve customers through a wide range of channels and we will continue to invest in leading edge developments to enhance our proposition and our established branch network, which is by far the largest of any of its competitors across the Bailiwick.

This year the bank is supporting customers on this journey with live demonstrations available in larger branches to walk through its mobile service proposition, providing customers with opportunities to learn about the mobile revolution and how the new services can be used, in combination with the branch to  help our customers bank with us in the way most convenient to them. .

Pop in to branch to find out how we are making banking easier!