According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, 42% of all European citizens regularly used Internet banking in 2013, up from 25% in 2007. As people come to rely on online banking services, and as competition among financial institutions to offer groundbreaking platforms intensifies, consumers continue to have higher expectations where usability is concerned. As a result, website design is becoming more important than ever, particularly in areas such as ease of use, security features, integrated functions and aesthetics.
Global Finance spoke with Paolo Di Grazia, head of direct bank for FinecoBank, about the latest trends in Internet banking. Today Fineco stands out for its innovative offer in this domain—even though Italy, the country in which it operates, is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to the reach of online banking services, with only 22% of people using them last year.
Global Finance: Italy’s banking sector is considered somewhat conservative. What space does Internet banking occupy today?
Paolo Di Grazia: It is true that growth rates and broadband coverage are still very low in Italy if compared to the rest of Europe, especially Northern Europe. That said, Internet banking is the digital service that has had the fastest growth in our country. Fineco was the first bank to combine online trading, a current account and the advisory of a financial planner into a fully integrated “one stop solution.”
GF: What do customers want today in terms of integrated Internet banking services?
Di Grazia: The main building blocks we see are: a boundless offer, the highest operational efficiency and ease of use, the physical support of a network of financial advisers and fair pricing on all products and services.
GF:: Cybersecurity is a growing area of concern when it comes to online financial services. Is this also your experience?
Di Grazia: Cybercrime, e-fraud, identity theft and hacktivism are hot topics in e-banking. Fraudsters and hacktivists get more and more sophisticated as time goes on. Our security strategy involves a multilayered approach, based on a deep knowledge of our customers, behavioral analytics and risk scoring.
GF: Where do you think the next push will be coming from in terms of digital banking offerings?
Di Grazia: We strongly believe that mobile platforms will be the future of banking. We have provided access to our services through the mobile channel for many years, as Fineco was the first Italian bank to offer mobile banking and trading back in 2000. No doubt the spread of mobile payments will further accelerate this evolution.