Digital Banking: Vital Now More Than Ever

Digital Banking: Vital Now More Than Ever

The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in several, impactful health initiatives emphasizing social distancing and even, in some cases, mandated lockdowns. In the banking industry, this led to a heightened need to provide reliable, no-contact access to accounts and funds through digital banking channels. Financial institutions began heavily promoting their available digital platforms, as more and more of their lobbies were closed. While digital banking has always offered convenience, the pandemic highlighted how digital options could also keep us safe and healthy. As a result, banks nationwide – both big and small – have begun to realize that digital banking is no longer just an added benefit. It is now an essential, required piece of the banking experience.

At Automated Systems, Inc. (ASI), many of our own community banking partners were also pushing to increase their digital offerings. While the majority of the banks already offered both online banking and mobile banking options, some were not as ready to rely solely on these digital methods of banking. A number of banks wanted to secure and setup new digital products throughout the pandemic. This included increases of mobile banking and deposit features, business banking, and ATM card controls and alerts.

+ 3% Mobile Banking Increase
+ 4% Mobile Deposit Increase
+ 3% Bill Pay Increase
+ 6% Card Controls Increase
+ 5% Card Alert & Travel Memo Increase
+ 3% Business Banking Increase
+ 4% Remote Deposit Capture Increase

In addition, many began offering online enrollment to allow their customers to sign up for new accounts and apply for credit cards. Increased assessments were also being made to current digital product offerings, with bank personnel verifying that all of their customers had proper access and determining which products were being utilized the most. ASI provided the support and tools to assist them along the way, from troubleshooting access for customers on digital platforms, resolving bugs/issues that were interrupting digital access, and showing users how to run reports to see just how much their customers were using their digital platforms. This helped our banks ensure that their customers had immediate access to the digital features they needed during the pandemic.

Usage statistics were also reviewed. Bank administrators saw a large increase in digital banking logins (either to the their online banking website or their mobile app) as compared to last year. There was a 38% increase in digital logins from March to April of 2020 and, even more significant, a 53% increase in logins comparing April of 2019 to April of 2020. This correlates directly with the months that many banks had to close their lobbies and were marketing their digital platforms to their customers. Mobile deposit usage also experienced an increase, when comparing data to the previous year. The largest increase occurred in June, with 17% more mobile deposits being made within June of 2020 as compared to June of 2019. Customers were getting comfortable using these digital channels to not only view their accounts and balances, but actively submit checks and complete deposits.

Digital banking platforms also became a critical resource for our banks to communicate with their customers. We helped many banks communicate information to their customers via secure messages/email, mobile newsfeeds on their mobile banking apps, and pop ups, banner ads, or announcement banners on their online banking websites. We even assisted banks in creating entirely new web content where they could post news and updates related to the pandemic or specific relief programs in their communities. Additionally, one bank asked us to help them integrate a chat feature into their online banking site and mobile app that would allow them to assist their customers in real-time.

Information sharing through digital channels continues to be a vital asset. Primarily, they have been used to communicate modified hours of operation and provide closing or reopening notices. Continued promotion of mobile apps and other digital products has been prevalent. Some banks took time to post information educating their customers on how to properly use some digital products, such as mobile deposit. Details about SBA Loans, the Paycheck Protection Program, stimulus payments, potential scams that seemed to be occurring more during the pandemic, and health and safety measures that the banks were taking to protect their communities were also shared by many. Being able to provide essential information quickly and easily via online banking sites and mobile apps allowed banks to keep their customers informed, safe, and satisfied.

What are some of the future implications of this growth in digital banking? Many industry leaders are predicting that people will not return to banking in person. They believe digital banking will continue to grow even after the pandemic is all said and done with, and that banks may even begin to reduce the number of branches they have or the hours in which they operate. While this might be a plausible prediction for bigger banks, it may not translate as readily to smaller community banks. This is due to the fact that most community banks have a closer connection with their customers and many of their customers view a visit to the bank as a chance to socialize. From our data in the last few months, as banks have reopened their lobbies, there was a slight downtick in the growth of users logging into the online banking site and/or the mobile app. This doesn’t mean that everything will return to normal and digital numbers will go back to where they were before the pandemic. It is still likely that we still see a vast increase when comparing year-to-year data as many users have now had a taste of the convenience that digital banking can bring to their lives.

About Automated Systems, Inc.
Since 1981, Automated Systems, Inc. has been a leader in providing innovative core banking, digital banking, and data processing solutions to community banks nationwide.  An array of integrated applications provide partnered banks with tailored, cost-effective, competitive choices.  ASI delivers industry-leading technology backed by unparalleled in-house conversion, training and support teams; paving the way for progressive, top-notch customer service.  ASI corporate headquarters are located at 1201 Libra Drive, Lincoln, NE 68512, 1.800.279.7312.  For more information about banking solutions from ASI, visit www.asiweb.com.

About Insite Data Services
IDS data application hosting services combines secure and cost-effective core banking applications, enterprise-class servers and storage, and proven virtualization technology.  IDS hosts all of the bank’s servers in secure data centers that use state of the art security systems including identity verification and biometric scanning.  Insite Data Services also offers IDS On-Time, a full-service solution dedicated to back-office bank processing.  These operations experts allow partnered banks to focus on their most important asset, their customers.  For more information visit www.insitedataservices.com.

About The Author

Larisa Epp
Larisa Epp
Larisa Epp is the Web Designer at Automated Systems, Inc., a leading provider of core banking software. She is involved with redesigning our banks’ websites and mobile apps, while also fulfilling requests for web graphics and website edits/maintenance. Larisa also assists with other marketing tasks, including maintaining our internal and external websites.

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