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Converting on the Currency of Now: Key Takeaways from CBA LIVE 2019

Connecting with the customer through technology was the key theme at this year’s CBA LIVE. While the importance of technology has climbed year over year, the initial forays of Amazon, Google, and Apple into banking has caused the discussion to take on a new kind of urgency.

If banks’ biggest advantage is their connection to customers, then the question becomes how to entrench that connection in a customer-friendly, relevant, personalized way?

The Threat of the Tech Giants

Amazon, Google, and Apple are all making inroads into banking. The threat to incumbents is real—according to Youa Yang, Digital Banking Program Director at Barlow Research, 25% of small business owners indicated they would be open to switching to one of these providers. Combine this with 73% of Millennials indicating the same, and the threat to banks becomes even clearer.

Banks not only need to retain existing deposits, but build the relationships that will attract future ones. Understanding customer needs has never been more crucial–more than ever, banks need to find ways to use technology to deepen and grow existing connections. This will help stem the leakage of deposits when tech giants inevitably go from making inroads in banking to making outright incursions.

Customer Expectations

In many ways, deepening and growing existing customer relationships comes down to meeting customer expectations that have been set by the tech giants in other contexts. The shift in expectations brought on by the tech giants’ combined level of service is the largest mountain for banks to climb.

Elizabeth Dobbers, EVP at BBVA Compass, said it well: “Consumers have led the charge on changes to the banking customer journey. Small business used to accept 3-5 day processing times, but small business people are consumers and they expect speed.”

Given the grip that legacy technology systems have on banks, it is imperative that they pick their technology priorities carefully. Gavin Geraci, COO of PNC Bank, had a great insight on how to set these priorities: “It’s not about ‘can we do it?’ but ‘does the customer find value in this?’”

Another layer to setting technology priorities is how that technology affects the internal organization. Bob Kottler, EVP at IBERIABANK, summarized the situation and the opportunity at this year’s CBA LIVE: “Anything we can do on the front-end that removes friction on the back-end will save us a lot of money in the process.” Doing things digitally on the outside but manually on the inside will lead to half-hearted implementation efforts that don’t move the needle good enough, fast enough.

There are few technology efforts that add value to the customer, make a significant difference, align external and internal processes, and are executable in a reasonable period.

Personalization might be just the ticket.

How Banks Can Create Their Own Luck: Personalization Meets Opportunity

Whereas most tech giants can be accused of personalization to the point of knowing too much, banks have an opportunity to do more. Increasingly, they also have an obligation as we learned at CBA LIVE.

The Digital Banking Report showed that 94% of banks can’t offer anything more than the bare basics on personalization. Customers want “contextual, personalized insights and solutions.” But less than 20% of surveyed institutions were able to provide personalized offers. Gavin had a great comment here as well: “It’s a lot of what’s coming out in terms of knowing the needs of customers, the changing behaviors, and expectations. At the end of the day it’s all in the service of how we attract, grow, and retain deposits. Up until now we haven’t been the best miner of our own data.”

Banks like Hancock Whitney are leading the charge, with SVP Jennifer Dier speaking at length on how her bank aggregates and segments customer data during the “Demographics & Segmentation in Deposits” workshop. While segmentation is important, the challenge in Jennifer’s view is actioning those insights. “It’s not just about segment of one, but collecting and executing on all of those segmentations to create a strategy of one.”

When it comes to executing the insights that come from segmentation, technology has historically been a limiting factor. James Capolongo, SVP at TD, explained the problem concisely: “You can segment all you want but there’s so many complications with legacy technology when it comes to delivering those next gen capabilities.”

This is where Zafin can help. Zafin’s software allows you to price your products based on customer relationships. By enabling your bank’s business users to configure offers, you reduce your dependency on your core provider and IT team and dramatically increase your time to market. This allows you to take your customer segments and pricing strategies off the shelf and into reality.


The theme of this year’s CBA LIVE was “The Currency of Now”. Well, banks’ currency is their connection to their customers. But every day they wait to convert this currency into something that both they and their customers would value more, the currency loses value.

If your bank has segmentation data and you’re ready to run offers using it, Now is the time to run them.

If your bank is tired of being limited by legacy technology and manual processes, Now is the time to leave these behind.

And if your bank knows it needs technology but can’t think of the use cases, Now is the time to spur your imagination.

We learned a lot at this year’s CBA LIVE. We’d be happy to help you do all of these and more. Because your currency will never be more valuable than now. Let’s work together to convert it — get in touch with Zafin today.

About Zafin

Zafin (@zafin) is a leading financial technology provider that enables banks to form richer, more personalized client relationships. Built from the ground up for financial services, its platform empowers banks to enhance revenue and operational efficiency. Founded in 2002, Zafin sits among North America’s top FinTech companies, and is trusted by retail and corporate units at some of the largest banks worldwide. Headquartered in Toronto with global offices, Zafin has a proven track record with a 100 percent client retention rate as validation.

Jeremy De Mello

Jeremy De Mello is an Associate Account Executive on the Zafin Growth team. He is passionate about how financial technology can create a better customer experience. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys personal development, cooking and baking, and working towards his goal of being described as dashing. You can follow him on Twitter @JeremyDeMello or connect with him on LinkedIn.