This was very interesting news. I was discussing automation with some friends elsewhere and what I said was the because of the miniscule revenue per customer in the retail area, higher automation is a must for increasing revenues by reducing cost. But more importantly, the level of customer satisfaction and quality is much more because it gives you control over your money and investment products rather be driven by the vagaries of a human being who might not be at the right level to satisfy your level of demand.
And then you see this. I quote some extracts:
"Unlike traditional banks where mobile banking is used as a secondary channel through which customers can only conduct account enquiries and basic transactions, Jibun Bank is entirely based in the mobile phone, with the Internet serving only as a secondary channel," Tohara explains. "For a Jibun Bank customer, the entire lifecycle of products and services are available on the mobile phone, right from account opening to account closure.
In addition to more standard transactions such as Yen deposits and funds transfers, customers can access more complex banking services such as foreign currency deposits, loans, credit cards, electronic money, e-shopping payments and financial planning tools. The bank also has started selling insurance products and is planning to add the new products aggressively, according to Tohara.
Can you see the level of services there? fascinating. Quite an interesting perspective. Specially for vast swathes of the world ranging from India, China to Africa, Latin America, this would work brilliant. More importantly, in the countries where people are asset rich and time poor like in the OECD countries, this can work as well.
The account opening process was an eyeopener to me.
"A virtual bank with the mobile phone as the primary channel requires the highest level of automation," he explains. "The account opening process for Jibun Bank (which is from a mobile phone) is a fully automated process from both the bank and customer points of view."
He says the only manual processes are printing the forms and dispatching account information, which are outsourced to a printing company. The files are uploaded directly from the mobile phone or sent by the customer to a printing company. Further processing is executed at the printing company, which processes the data and delivers the information in electronic format to the bank, which then automatically processes the data to execute account activation. As such, he says the technical design of the project needed to undertake a much higher level of automation than conventional banking.
More evidence that the intermediation element of the bank is changing face dramatically.