Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, one of the largest banks in the world, with retail banking operations in more than 80 countries. As such, we’re fortunate to have digital channel peers across the globe. While those peers are often very interested in what’s happening in our hometown, the Bay Area, they are doing some very innovative things themselves.
Over the past several years, our colleagues at headquarters in Paris have tried to foster a community of practice in digital. Our similarities and our differences all provide learning opportunities. Most importantly, we are all working toward the same goal: improving the digital offerings of our respective banks and improving our customers’ banking experiences.
To that end, we try to share best-practices on many fronts, including overall strategy, product roadmaps, methodologies, and various solutions or capabilities. We have our share of lost-in-translation moments, but we also have aha! moments where an idea from one location can be leveraged in another.
[For more from Bank of the West's Jamie Armistead, check out: 5 Keys to Success for a Mobile-First Strategy.]
CRM strategy and tools were one of the first areas of partnership. BNP Paribas built some very robust lead generation and targeting tools that we have been able to take advantage of. BNPP also has well-defined sales strategies and sales processes that we tailored to the US market. On top of that, it’s a multichannel toolkit covering branch, contact center, ATM, and digital. It would have cost us a fortune and taken far longer for us to develop these capabilities on our own.
Another area that has started to take shape is common vendors. Many of the ancillary components of digital platforms have become somewhat commoditized. For example, if everyone in the BNPP family can leverage the same analytics platform, it’s easier to benchmark ourselves, we build a collective team that's knowledgeable on the platform, we start to collaborate more directly on ways to improve, and we save money.
Yet another emerging area is capability sharing. Knowing what our peers are doing can challenge us to think differently or consider other solutions. For example, TEB, our Turkish affiliate, was the first financial institution in Turkey to launch an app for Google Glass. Obviously it didn’t do this because of overwhelming demand, but rather for the PR value. This was a relatively low-cost locator app, but it challenged us to think about ways to leverage smaller digital efforts that could garner material PR value.
In other cases our affiliates have built very robust digital solutions. Our personal finance arm in Western Europe offers real-time personal loans during the online check-out flow for several retailers. (It’s the equivalent of the Amazon.com credit card offer.) Doing identity and underwriting in real-time, integrated into third-party e-commerce sites, is an impressive capability and one that challenges us to continue to push ourselves at Bank of the West.
How does all this relate to banks that aren’t part of a multinational? The digital revolution is happening around the globe. Complete digital-only banks have been launched in China in a matter of months. Australia and Africa are leaders in mobile payments. The point is that we need to look beyond the Bay Area and beyond our borders for inspiration. In his book Digital Disruption, James McQuivey talks about "adjacent innovation." While you may not be able to copy exactly what’s happening in another part of the world, looking around the globe may just provide the inspiration for your next innovation.
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Since joining Bank of the West two years ago, Jamie has led the transformation of the bank's digital channels. Under his leadership, Bank of the West launched an integrated online banking and investing platform and was the first bank in North America to offer Quick ... View Full Bio