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Speech: Chris De Noose Day 2 wrap up

Speech: Chris De Noose Day 2 wrap up

Banks are adapting retail banking to digital age

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Closing Remarks


WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Chris De Noose

To the

WSBI Innovation Conference

27 January 2017

Dear Guests, 

I would like to conclude this year’s Innovation Conference with a few thoughts on what we have learned during Day 2 and how that fits into the overall event. First, the message by Commissioner Oettinger was loud and clear for us: Banks have to embrace the digital age. He also said that he is encouraged that banks are taking great strides to do it. 

He also noted that banks play a key role in the real economy and Digital strategy, even as a co-investor. He also acknowledges that banks face high costs around regulation compliance. He understood that we face cost pressures when building out our digital banking channels. He gave a nod to fintechs too, saying that they are faster than banks, cost less and more user friendly. We challenged that notion in the first panel today. 

He also said that fintechs contribute to the financial landscape. Agreed. His language was close to our story. That story is clear: a policy framework is needed so that innovation thrives while ensuring a level playing field. In summary, his remarks closely linked up with our own thoughts on innovation, collaboration and riding the digital wave.

Session 1: Impressive change by banks around the world

Banking experts from four countries took part in the first panel. They are taking different approaches to transform their banks in a digital world. 
Their goal is clear. Foremost is to provide service that is easy to use and always available. They also seek to integrate the “new branch” model with the “New Normal” of apps and online banking. That takes effort, that takes money and that takes know- how. They shared that we must tap into our people because they play a big role in all change efforts. Members from El Salvador and  Thailand dug into the nuts and bolts of what it takes to transform banks at the front of the bank. What was clear from their presentation was that banks will not just beservice-led. Branch banks will be advisory-led. 

That means people who man those branches will need to be more tech-savvy more in-tune with the needs of the customer during these rare face to face 
meetings. The Norwegians gave us a telling sermon on banking and bank branch design and how they have transformed themselves. We learned about the ‘Red Bank’ and robots. We dined on his talk on the need for diversified channel structure to give them both digital platforms and physical branches. They intend to put a branch in every customer’s pocket. We all are. Savings banks in Norway put a personal advisor contact on their app where they can even chat. That’s going deeper in the customer journey. He made a strong point that: “The challenge is the gap between organisational culture and the power of the digital switchover.”

Our friends in Luxembourg are making progress to transform themselves. They too are working on a concept similar to the Norwegians. They taught us that you cannot fake digital know how. Also, cultural change in a bank is a key component to digital change. All on the panel recognise they have a special role in their local markets. 

Our face-to-face approach combined with digital is a stength. It’s a strength that we should keep build from. As Ole Morent Geving said: “It’s combining the big data with the small data. We have both.”

Session 2: Addressing financial includsion through digitisation

The final panel gave us a chance to explore how new technologies can help financial inclusion efforts by member banks. Mobile telephones and smartphones are big driver of how service to customers must change. 

They provided us plenty of success stories to choose from. I was also important to hear from Mr Claes from the IFC give the World Bank Group’s perspective. Mr El Jasouli provided a first-hand look at the potential of digital channels to reach more people. What was made clear is that our friends from Korea and India are finding creative ways to bring people out of the financial wilderness, tapping into technology.

Final thank you

Before we have our lunch and say “goodbye”, I would like to now say thank you to those who drew up courage to share their story on stage. I also wish to thank Mr. Haasis and Commissioner Oettinger as well. And finally, congrats and thanks to the WSBI staff for all of their hard work to make this happen. Well done all. Knowledge sharing is an important part of what we do. We do that through our member-only Online Community – our digital channel for knowledge sharing. 

Our events also foster that sharing. These past two days and our member workshop on Wednesday helped us to advance on the innovation journey. But it doesn’t stop here.We plan other forums. We invite members to Barcelona 21 and 22 September for the Business Forum. The forum will focus on how to use digitisation to support sales. We plan to revisit the future of branches, explore new business strategies and cross selling – ‘opti-channel’– or is it ‘omni-channel’? It will also focus on new ways to approach giving financial advice to clients – robots or not. 


To conclude, let me just say that we all seek to innovate the banking sector. We all seek to listen to what the customer needs, to better serve the market, and to better serve our communities.  And we all seek to adapt retail banking to the digital age. We can and we are.

T​hank you again.

 ends / all
Financial inclusion; Digitalisation; Innovation; Branch management; Banking Distribution Channels; Banking Technology