Dariusz Nalepa, director of transaction banking, explains how mBank focuses its development on innovations that corporate clients want.
Global Finance: How does mBank keep its online services and features for business clients fresh?
Dariusz Nalepa: At mBank, we focus on direct close relations with clients and bilateral communication on detailed customer needs. Development in corporate banking is often more challenging than in retail, as corporate-banking customers do not care about popular global trends or standards. For a precise understanding of clients’ business needs, frequent meetings and conversations result in new ideas that then turn into actual solutions. New products and services improve the daily business of not only one or two clients, but whole clusters of customers that face similar challenges. This creates a base for further communication, resulting in further ideas and innovations. Careful listening, understanding client feedback and fast information flow within the bank allow us to improve our services.
The other issue is the frequency of development introduction. We have significantly changed the philosophy of new-features delivery. Instead of big, but rare, system upgrades, we decided to provide our clients with frequent platform updates. Agile project methodology allows customers to enjoy new solutions and features on a biweekly basis.
GF: How does mBank marry functionality with practicality?
Nalepa: This is a real challenge for us. Positive customer experience and customer acceptance are key to the success of online solutions. That’s why we follow a few obligatory rules before any solution is released to the market. Our principle is that online solutions must be self-explanatory and user-friendly. Before any major development, we conduct a lot of interviews with different groups of clients and collect any available feedback, regardless of source. Further on, we organize workshops with different groups of stakeholders in order to design the best solution. Once it is ready, we verify it during a pilot phase with a so-called family-and-friends group. Usually, we get interesting insight for further system tuning, to reach the most satisfying level of excellence.
We closely cooperate with UX/UI [user experience/user interface] specialists. In order to have the best and most user-friendly systems on the market, mBank decided to set up mServices, a daughter company specializing in optimization of the customer journey and user interface.
GF: How important are the sandbox and the launch of mBank API to the creation of new value-added services for your clients?
Nalepa: Both the sandbox and mBank API are regulatory must-have services in Poland, but we perceive them as market opportunities. At the moment, our PSD2-based API for completely new cash-management solutions for companies is up and running; but it is still in an experimental stage. We are open to any form of cooperation with fintechs to create additional value for our clients based on mBank API. We plan further extensions of our API platform to introduce new services, based on business needs, to become the leader in open banking.
GF: How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing the face of banking?
Nalepa: Artificial intelligence brings opportunities for all banks. It improves relationships between banks and clients; makes transfers more secure; makes internal bank processes faster and more efficient; supports credit management; improves lending, risk management, fraud protection and anti-money-laundering processes. Already it enables quicker and more-precise structuring. Individually optimized product sets can not only help clients with better cash management, but also decrease banking costs. Conversational AI can speak natural language and handle sophisticated questions about finance management.
It will definitely change the face of banking. It will change the way we do things and change the profile of the typical banker. New AI-related jobs will be created, and some jobs will disappear. What I believe will stay is the need for a human touch and the value of good and trustful relationships.
GF: How can communication with clients help banks create meaningful data insights?
Nalepa: Open communication is a key. It is impossible to understand problems correctly without a conversation based on confidence and understanding of a client’s business—learning their challenges and trying to find out how we can help. Broader perspective and outside-the-box thinking create interesting new solutions, often dramatically accelerating corporate cash-management processes. Conversation is not the only source of valuable information, however. Sometimes data mining provides unexpected insights. A combination of these two, plus an organizational culture based on constant development, results in solutions that conquer the market.