Building a Digital Bank – The Lessons I Learned Part 3

Excel is not the answer.

In my previous blog posts (Success is a Mindset and The Extra Mile), I share the lessons learned from my experience in a challenging project to launch a digital bank in Australia (from London) within a year. In this post, I discuss spreadsheets and the value of a “First Time Right” approach.

I had already gone through about 2 months of pre-sales effort before I met the Neobanks CEO and founder, a very switched-on British guy who had been a successful fund manager prior to this.  His first question to me when I met him; “Tell me why I don’t just run all this on Excel spreadsheets. I ran a multimillion-pound fund for years on spreadsheets. Why do I need all this cost and tech?”

My response was simple; “First Time Right.”

Get it right at the start and as you grow the solution will scale with you, if you do it the other way round when you get to the point of onboarding thousands of new customers each week, it simply will not be manageable and will fail.

He agreed with this assessment and we then proceeded to meet with some of the senior exec team at Appian to instil confidence that this was the right enterprise solution that would allow them to scale at speed and with ease.

Lesson Three: First Time Right

As you probably know, most of the traditional banks use Appian as well as OpenText, PEGA and a host of other enterprise-level, low-code solutions. But they tend to use them for specific, functional requirements.  Some have recently expanded the use, but this project was the first time in a fully digital environment that Appian was being used as the “Single Pain of Glass” to manage case management, and interactions between other core systems to allow complex workflows and automation of a Neobank. 

The user case scenario: a new customer signs up on their App, uploads their passport, driving license and proof of address. That goes through multiple checks and an account is opened within 5 minutes, allowing for immediate deposit. With that a Visa pre-pay card is also issued to the customer, arriving with them within 48 hours.  That all happens within 5 minutes and no human had to be involved in the vetting and checking processes. It’s all handled by the tech with workflow automation.  It worked well and it worked “First Time Right”.

This also allowed for SMS and web chat interactions. The solution is so effective that the NeoBank is being courted by other start-ups and larger traditional banks and financial institutions to buy and white label the technology.  It makes sense. All the API calls, microservices, etc. are already in place and can simply be changed to cater to different third-party tech providers, as required.

The model was designed on 1 employee for every 1000 customers this has changed slightly but gives an idea of the effectiveness and robustness of the technology to be able to scale and manage complex workflow requirements without the need for human interaction and checks at every turn.

They are now highly successful in the Australian market and still have less than 100 employees. It’s a Fintech/NeoBank’s CEO dream model, really.

Lessons Learned

Listen, listen, and listen again only then offer constructive advice and make sure your team is in control of what is being delivered. Then your solution will be First Time Right.

A First Time Right approach is essential in the delivery of the 90-day accelerators I have created for the finance industry; intelligent automation projects for finance that deliver measurable outcomes to customers or staff within 90 days.

In my next blog, I discuss the lifetime value of a client and the Seven Ps.

Click here to read part 2 ‘The Extra Mile’

Click here to read part 4 ‘The Seven Ps’


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