As the banking industry evolves, Customers Bank tries to stay ahead

Technology has changed our ways for centuries, even though it seems to have changed more rapidly in recent decades.

Not that long ago, if you wanted to cash a check received in the Saturday mail, you had to wait until Monday to use your local bank branch. You can now deposit, 24 hours a day, via an app and your mobile phone camera.

The processing of a loan application made an appointment with a bank agent. Now you can do this with a laptop on your coffee table while wearing your pajamas.

With things like cryptocurrency and a pandemic forcing more consumers to bank online, companies like Customer bank have been in a constant race to stay on the cutting edge of financial technology.

That’s why the West Reading-based financial institution rebranded itself last week with a new logo and website and plans to introduce more banking products.

“Fueled by a hybrid fintech-community banking business model and the bank’s recent successes, Customers Bank has launched other new lines of commercial financial products and opened additional offices in key metropolitan markets across the country,” the bank said. in a press release Thursday. “The new customers attracted to the bank are younger, more diverse, more tech savvy and looking for a different customer experience. The new brand, from logo and website to apps, social media and desktop, is designed to capture that vibe. “

Endless process

Chris Smalley, head of digital banking for clients, said updating banking technology is a never-ending process.

“As far as the website and the app go, it’s never complete,” Smalley said last week. “There’s never a time when we say the website is finished. It must be constantly evolving. Each quarter it becomes obsolete as our product portfolio grows, our customer segments evolve, our consumers change their behavior when they demand new products in the market. We always want to be the first or the fast follower, so to do this we need our web properties to constantly evolve.

Chris Smalley, Head of Digital Banking Services for Customers Bank. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Smalley said it was a complete relaunch of the website.

“It’s not just about being repainted, it’s completely reconfigured,” he said. “We’re going to focus again on the look and feel of fintech, the ease of a customer journey, but we’ll always be building on the strength of our balance sheet as a well-established $ 20 billion financial institution. dollars. “

Indeed, first impressions are important. Smalley said the old Customers Bank site with its old logo and offerings may have scared off some potential customers. This is especially the case if it is someone from a distant market who was not familiar with customers before.

“When we think of these customers, if they go to our website (last week), they’ll probably come away saying I’m not convinced this bank has the technological edge to meet my daily 2,000 mile banking needs. away, ”Smalley mentioned. “(Last week) our brand wasn’t up to par with our tech prowess and it’s interesting because most companies fake it until they do it with tech and we almost do it. opposite in the sense that we have advanced our technology much, much further than our brand and has evolved accordingly and we are catching up all of a sudden.

The customer base, which has $ 20 billion in assets, which places it among the top 100 banks in the country, has grown over the past two years. According to the bank, it has participated in around 347,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans with a total value of $ 10 billion and recently launched a blockchain-based real-time payment system for crypto institutions. -currency and digital assets that generated deposits of $ 1.5 billion.

Internet access

Another type of clientele that customers try to attract is that of the so-called “bank deserts”. With banks closing physical branches nationwide, in urban, rural and suburban areas, consumers find they may have to take longer to get to their financial institution.

Smalley said all someone needs to be a customer is access to the internet.

“Today the first thing you do is go to Google and say ‘how do I get a loan? ” “, did he declare. “Then you do that, we want to be there to capture you and integrate you into a customer experience that will hopefully get you to get the banking product you need online without having to set foot in a branch. . “

The relationship between client and banker has also changed.

“The way I look at it, banks have had this belief for too long that small business owners and consumers want to be friends with their bankers,” Smalley said. “I think that has changed and they are looking at banking where they can get anything as a service. That every moment at the branch office, with their banker, or on the phone with their banker is a time when they aren’t spending time with their families or doing something that adds value to their business.

“As long as we can make that as smooth as possible, that’s the experience we’re trying to create and evolve the brand.”

It is something that the youngest, who may have used the old one Mobile Bank unit while studying, will find it attractive. Now known as BM Technologies Inc., it is one of the largest digital banking platforms in the United States and caters to students and young adults.

“This type of customer is someone we definitely want to continue to gain market share,” said Smalley. “The post-graduate student is definitely a very, very important part of our consumer loan portfolio and this millennial is becoming the next generation of small business owners. I hope and believe they will use the same thinking process that they take from their consumer lending behavior to their business lending behavior i.e. digital first.

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