Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth? Not in an Ecosystem of Value-Added Services

Gathering multiple value-added services into a single coherent environment is a lot like cooking: you need to know a proven recipe. 

So, how to collect all the ingredients and create a palatable, or even a delectable ecosystem for SME customers? It must be a platform that will meet the requirements of end-users by solving their financial problems, which is not an easy task. 

The cravings of SMEs 

According to International Finance Corporation, banks around the world are more or less aware that 43% of micro, small and medium enterprises in developing countries have an unmet financing need for around $4.1 trillion every year. Hence, this sector has huge cravings and there’s a potential demand for financial services.

However, the competition grows stronger each year; fintech companies attract clients by offering tailor-made solutions that help SMEs conduct their daily businesses easier. To stay at the top of the food chain, some banks have started to position themselves as the main business partners for SME clients. 

One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to create an ecosystem that will include external partners and additional innovative services, covering multiple business areas like accounting, human resources, virtual assistance, or sales automation – all in one platform. This is how banks can strengthen their position, increase sales, and expand the client base. More engagement of their users means more opportunities to sale new banking products, or increase existing ones, like extend factoring or leasing limits. Additionally, with increasingly more data coming in from different services within the ecosystem, banks can better analyze and understand the needs of their customers, in order to prepare customized offers and products that can be delivered in the perfect moment when they are really needed by the SMEs, just like before liquidity turmoil. This will vastly increase conversion rates and satisfaction levels. 

What’s cooking on the Asia-Pacific market?

This region is very fast growing when it comes to fintech industry. There are some of the biggest players located here. Of course the leader is a massive and mature Chinese market, with big names like Alipay (Ant Group) or WeChat (Tencent), but there’s a lot going on in smaller emerging markets. In Thailand, there are some rapidly expanding companies, for example Opn, Ascend Money or Sunday (the insurtech company). Even though the total value of fintech investments in Asia-Pacific is not the biggest in the world, with the region’s large population and high adoption rate, here you can find the highest number of fintech users globally. While digital payments is currently the number one among fintech segments, personal finance will presumably take the lead in the future.

The ingredients of a successful ecosystem

So in the fast growing environment with a stiff competition, it can be tricky to create a successful partnership and connect multiple external solutions to work together in a seamless manner. This requires a flexible platform with a friendly design for each type of end-user, both the customers and employees of financial institutions. The possibility of easily adjusting the ecosystem functionalities to the rapidly changing environment might be crucial to retaining competitive advantage.

A well-made selection of value-added services can go a long way when creating a business space for addressing the needs of customers. Defining their biggest challenges should be the point of departure for banks in offering a solution which will be able to attract customer attention.

After choosing the best features and value-added services, focusing on execution is also very important. The platform should allow easy access to and management of all functionalities in use. Some desirable system features include: customizable dashboard, widgets gathering data from the whole ecosystem, intuitive navigation, contextual tips, or activation of new services with only a few clicks. 

The recipe for success

If we want to deliver satisfactory user experience with selected value-added services, our platform has to meet customer expectations. But building everything from scratch takes a lot of time and resources. We will have total control over the final effect, but at what cost? 

Sometimes it can be like reinventing the wheel, especially if there are already existing solutions that we can implement right away. Relying on ready-made systems, on the other hand, may prove to be limiting and decrease the platform’s flexibility in comparison to in-house development. 

However, there is a third way that embraces the good aspects of these paths: choosing a vendor with a good standard solution that the bank can enrich with custom functionalities. This way, the focus can be shifted to creating new solutions, instead of wasting time on building foundations. The advantages of this hybrid approach are:

  • smart implementation of the microservices architecture – a cutting-edge technology, but also a well-thought-through design free from redundant bindings, which means easy embedding of new functionalities.
  • the possibility to add additional front-end modules created by the bank or a third party through configuration (even without coding), or with the use of API-Gateway and/or SSO.
  • the access to global mechanisms within the platform, such as access control, authorization and approval workflows, to maximize self-development capabilities by utilizing low-level APIs provided by these components. 

Comarch Open Platform is a proven recipe: with its open architecture, readiness to run in the cloud and quick agile implementation, it truly is the cream of the crop among solutions for creating a successful banking ecosystem. Once all the value-added services land in the same pot, the ideas start brewing! 

Artur Dabrowski

Author: Artur Dąbrowski, Business Consultant at Comarch

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