Garvan Callan, Director, strategy, digital and innovation at Bank of Ireland  talks to Global Finance about the bank's exponentially growing digital footprint, products that are doing well and the technologies the bank is focusing on to drive its digital customer growth and experience.


garvan callan

Global Finance: What do corporate clients and retail customers now expect from their banks regarding digital services?

Garvan Callan: Customers expect a seamless digital experience. For example, more than two thirds of our products are now bought through direct interactions (telephone and online) and one in two of new sales are actually completed end-to-end digitally.

GF: Where is Bank of Ireland with regard to its digital footprint?

Callan: Only three percent of our transactions take place over the counter. Seventy-five percent of our customers are digitally active, and over eight million transactions now happen on our mobile app monthly. This has grown exponentially over the past few years. However, you can’t stop looking towards the future. We are currently focused on adopting, integrating and moving to more scalable and modern platforms that positions Bank of Ireland for long term competitiveness. The replacement of our core banking platforms will deliver cost efficiencies and provide further growth and strategic opportunities for the bank.

GF: Can you identify one or two products or services that have been particularly well received?

Callan: We have recently made updates to our app so customers can now apply for an overdraft and business loans very simply and quickly. We’re also evolving our physical network through the delivery of innovative workspaces for start-ups through our Workbenches and Start Labs which are based in branches across the country.  

GF: How do you organize internally to meet the customers’ demands for digital financial services?

Callan: Our customers are drawn from almost every demographic in society, and so we need to understand their wants and needs in order to offer them the services they require. Therefore, diversity for any team in a customer facing role is key. My team is drawn from many different backgrounds including technology, design, start-ups and long-term bank employees. We have a great mix of gender and nationalities, all of whom bring a different perspective but have customer centricity as a common value. 

The importance of good teamwork cannot be underestimated. I am leading a team focused on delivering first-class solutions to our customers. They are constantly looking to push boundaries and evolve our offerings from the digitization of our products and offerings to innovation in enterprise and start-up support. All team members, irrespective of their expertise, are very customer-centric and this, combined with their experience from other industries and sectors, has helped us take an outside-in approach to challenges and work collaboratively to deliver on our goals.

GF: Where does Bank of Ireland hope to go from here in terms of its digital efforts?

Callan: Utilising emerging and open source technologies and connecting them through APIs (application programming interface) will help to expand the range of services we offer. We now use beacon technology to help customers know what might be relevant to where they are. For example, our app users receive push notifications when going through the airport with tips for safer and cheaper travel. Cognitive computing (artificial intelligence through machine learning) will help us create an even richer array of ways to serve our customer more efficiently. These are just some of the exciting areas we will be focusing on.