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According to MuleSoft’s 2020 Connectivity Benchmark Report, the financial services sector has a greater prevalence of teams driving sharing and a higher likelihood of API use, making it more primed for integration compared to other sectors.

The report also points out that improvements can still be made with only 44% of financial service respondents reporting that their organization provides a completely connected user experience, and 54% admitting it’s difficult to achieve. 

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In Southeast Asia, applications like Alipay and WeChat have shaped customer expectations that define a truly digital experience in the region. These apps have pushed the envelope to provide customers with a truly connected experience in a single platform. 

That has created a trickle-down effect in Southeast Asia. Customer expectations for financial services now are driven by customers’ day-to-day usage of these super apps. This is setting the bar high for financial services companies.

The opportunity of digital scalability

The key question financial services companies need to ask is: ‘How can we leverage digital technology to scale more quickly and a more cost-effective way?’ Or, in other words, they need to prioritize their digital customer experience.

The solution begins with customer acquisition. Traditionally, this is the most expensive part of the process as marketing dollars are spent acquiring each new customer. Taking customer acquisitions digital can make it much more targeted and cost-effective.

This is where co-branding and/or embedding can be an excellent opportunity for financial services companies to connect existing apps and their customers. For example, if a credit card co-branding with a ride-sharing app with instant approval and instant provisioning, is a much more scalable and cost-effective way to acquire new customers than creating a new channel and pulling customers into that.

The same goes for always-on lending. Partnering with retailers to offer customers instant point-of-sale loan approvals at the time of transaction cuts out the cost of customer acquisition and completely digitizes the customers’ experience with the financial services company facilitating the transaction.

This level of service is already a market reality. Australian fintech company Tic:Toc has used APIs to unlock data from e-form applications – and 21 other systems – to reduce the average loan application process from 22 days to 22 minutes.   

The power of digital ubiquity  

Another opportunity for financial services companies in a digital world is to build a partner ecosystem with the principle of open banking at the core. That means the financial services company exists within an ecosystem of other service providers — such as ride-sharing, retail and food delivery apps — and acts as a lifestyle facilitator.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, the financial services company uses existing digital channels to provide customers with financial services that fit seamlessly into the digital apps and services they already use. 

The financial services company powers the background transactions but essentially becomes invisible. You’re the always-on financial services partner in a thriving customer ecosystem

One of the largest banks in the world, HSBC, is already building a digital platform with APIs to securely unlock access to core banking products to enable collaboration with partners, accelerate innovation and open new revenue channels.

Becoming a truly mobile bank

For many financial services companies, the Holy Grail of the connected user experience is to be a fully functioning bank in their customers’ pockets. Everything is mobile, intuitive, and personalized. The bank becomes the always-on access point for all of your customers’ financial needs.  

Atom Bank, for example, is the first mobile-only bank in the UK. It operates no physical branches and doesn’t have a website. Instead, it uses an API-led approach to deliver all customer services — including opening a savings account, transferring money, and receiving a mortgage offer — via a mobile app. 

With the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) set to issue up to five digital bank licenses — two digital full bank (DFB) licenses and three digital wholesale bank (DWB) license — by June 2020, mobile-only banks could soon lead the way in a new era of completely connected customer experiences in Southeast Asia.

Download the full MuleSoft 2020 Connectivity Benchmark Report for more insights.