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Essential resources for banking executives:Enter ‘Banking Reinvented’

How the Royal Bank of Canada improved its digital channel adoption in banking

Making sure your financial institution has a clear understanding of its digital priorities is extremely important for ongoing success in the engagement banking era.

by Backbase


The ongoing pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic forced prompt digitization of financial and banking solutions across the globe. While it might have been a difficult wake-up call for many banking institutions, it also provided immense opportunities for incumbents, neobanks, and big tech to evolve their offerings.

With this transition, it was very clear that ensuring the smooth adoption of digital channels was a key focus for many financial institutions, including Canada’s largest bank – the Royal Bank of Canada.

Jouk Pleiter, CEO & Co-founder of Backbase, and Peter Tilton, SVP Digital at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) recently discussed how a digital transformation can benefit banks pre and post-pandemic, highlighting the importance of digital channel adoption.

Two megatrends revealed for servicing and digital advisor connectivity

RBC experienced a massive increase in customers migrating to digital channels for payments. More than half of its customers started using digital channels for transactional activities – increasing from 88% to 94.5% in the first five months of the pandemic.

“When it comes to digitizing advice, only 2-3% were happening remotely before the pandemic while today, this number has risen to 73%,” said Peter.

Banks who already utilized omni-technology could pivot to this shift in customer needs more quickly. This would be achieved by offering advisors solutions like digital identity verification, so they could connect to customers remotely.

“Solutions already built for digital could rapidly be deployed to advisors due to omni-technology,” Peter explained.

“Despite the pandemic, people still want to visit branches so it’s expected that people will return to face-to-face interactions. That being said, the role of the advisor will be both physical and digital.”

While prioritizing digital is a necessity, it’s also still important that customers have the option to visit a branch if that is their preferred option. This ensures the customers have completely engaged in whichever way is best for them.

Optimize digitally by building once and redeploying

Peter believes that when it comes to your bank’s operating models, you don’t need two approaches. By optimizing your operating model towards a hybrid way of working, you can use a single-platform infrastructure to service customers fully remotely while also having the option to move that same interaction to face-to-face.

Peter revealed, “Building on one horizontal technology stack allows you to build once and redeploy, leading to 55% of retail and commercial platforms being common.”

Having such an efficient model is definitely proving to be successful for RBC. Peter attributes this to having the underlying tech, saying that if the bank hadn’t put in the years of working and finding ways to do remote and agile delivery, it would have been a struggle. Undoubtedly, this has given RBC a huge competitive advantage over the past 18 months.

Digital prioritization is ongoing

The beauty of a single platform approach, such as the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform, is that financial institutions are able to achieve their goals with ease and without friction.

“RBC built its sales platform once and redeployed across verticals, leading to one onboarding process fit for both digital and branches. This makes it very upgradable and easy to maintain,” Peter added.

In order to continue standing out in the competitive banking landscape, it’s important to understand that digital prioritization requires constant maintenance and upgrades. This ensures that the bank is up to date with the latest technology and also what the customers evolving needs are.