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

Technology has been changing our habits for centuries, although it seems to have evolved more rapidly in recent decades.

Not so long ago, if you wanted to cash a check that came in the mail on Saturday, you had to wait until Monday to use your local bank branch. You can now make the deposit, around the clock, via an app and your mobile phone camera.

Processing a loan application made an appointment with a bank officer. Now you can do it 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 Customers 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 fintech-community banking hybrid business model and the bank’s recent successes, Customers Bank has launched other new commercial financial product lines and opened additional offices in key metropolitan markets nationwide,” 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 branding – from the logo to the website, apps, social media and office space – is designed to capture that vibe.

Endless process

Chris Smalley, head of digital banking for customers, said updating the bank’s technology is a never-ending process.

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

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

Smalley said it was a full website relaunch.

“It’s not just being repainted, it’s being completely reconfigured,” he said. “We will again refocus on the look and feel of fintech, the ease of the customer journey, but we will still build on the strength of our balance sheet as a well-established $20 billion financial institution.”

Indeed, first impressions are important. Smalley said the old Customers Bank site with its old logo and offers may have driven away some potential customers. This is especially the case if it is someone from a distant market who did not previously know the customers.

“When we think of these customers, if they went to our website (last week) they would probably come back and say I’m not convinced this bank has the tech chops to meet my $2,000 day-to-day banking needs. miles away,” Smalley mentioned. “(Last week) our brand didn’t match our technological prowess and it’s interesting because most companies fake it until they fake it with technology and we almost do the opposite in the direction of where we’ve advanced our technology much, much further than our brand and evolved accordingly and we’re all of a sudden catching up.”

Customers, which has assets of $20 billion, placing it among the top 100 banks in the country, has seen growth over the past two years. According to the bank, it has participated in approximately 347,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans worth a total of $10 billion and recently launched blockchain-based real-time payment for cryptocurrency institutions. and digital assets that generated $1.5 billion in deposits.

Internet access

Another type of clientele that Customers tries to attract are those from the so-called “banking deserts”. With banks closing physical branches across the country, in urban, rural and suburban areas, consumers are finding that they may need more time to get to their financial institution.

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

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

The relationship between customer and banker has also changed.

“From my perspective, banks have had this belief for too long that small business owners and consumers want to be friends with their banker,” Smalley said. “I think that has changed and they are looking at banking services where they can get anything as a service. That every moment at the bank branch or with their banker or on the phone with their banker is a moment that they don’t don’t spend time with their family or do 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’s something young people, who may have used Customer Bank’s old BankMobile unit while in college, will find appealing. Now known as BM Technologies Inc., it is among the largest digital banking platforms in the United States and targets students and young adults.

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

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