Banking Innovation of the Month: Transforming SMEs’ Onboarding by Santander

Newsroom > Banking Innovation of the Month: Transforming SMEs’ Onboarding by Santander

Efma-Accenture’s Banking Innovation of the Month award for July 2019 goes to Santander for transforming SMEs’ onboarding.

Todays’ SMEs prize efficient time management and seek greater control over their business. Onboarding therefore typically constitutes a major pain point for SMEs, and indeed in Santander’s case, their registration process was preventing them from delivering the best customer experience to their small and medium-sized enterprise customers.

As a result, Santander embarked on a mission to transform its onboarding process by harnessing the power of digital. Previously, onboarding was characterized by: lengthy processes; unknown and unreliable response times; multiple handoffs; dependence on multiple documents; no proactive engagement; confusing digital banking onboarding; and lack of data for new customers.

By automating and digitalizing the main steps of onboarding, Santander successfully reduced the time taken for new customers to open an account from an average of 7 days to just 15 minutes compared to the traditional in-branch process. Digital onboarding is also expected to lead to an annual cost reduction of millions of euros.

Thanks to this project, SMEs that have never banked with Santander can now open an account 100% digitally, through web or app, without the need to go to a branch or send off cumbersome paperwork. Santander’s solution combines several new disruptive technologies with a customer-centric vision.

Firstly, an AI and OCR application prepares the powers of attorney and identifies the faculties of each SME director, in real time. Secondly, a video call using biometric recognition is used for remote identification of the SME director. And thirdly, a single digital signature is used for all documents and queries and is stored securely in the cloud.

Santander has become the first European bank to offer a 100% digital onboarding solution for non-customer SMEs. Reaching this milestone brings SMEs much closer to the Spanish bank and opens the door to new business models to non-customers in a digital environment, competing with traditional and new players (neobanks and fintechs) alike.

This robust solution not only elevates the customer experience, but ensures the highest levels of security and compliance, minimizing fraud and operational risk. Santander’s strategy is based on the scalability of processes, products and models, as well as leveraging internal and external sources of information. This will enable the bank to embed the digital banking solution in any third-party platform and interact with SME non-customers in real time.

The project was developed over just 10 months, thanks largely to an agile methodology, which involved departments across the entire bank, particularly Corporate Banking, SMEs, Innovation, Technology, and Legal and Compliance. All stakeholders participated in the initial design thinking stage, which included a focus group with customers. Next came software development, which was carried out mainly by Santander’s in-house IT team, alongside third-party provider Taiger, which specializes in developing AI-powered solutions.

Looking ahead, Santander is determined to continually improve their onboarding process once it is implemented and open to clients, and will now focus on conversion rate optimization. Moreover, this solution will become an increasingly important enabler for the next steps in the digital sales roadmap for customers and non-customers.

Source: EFMA


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