In the financial industry, time is of the essence and everything moves at a fast pace, especially since the industry deals with a tool necessary to live in the modern world—money. As the saying goes, time is gold—and these days, time = money. Processes are being automated to make things more efficient, saving businesses time and costs in developing their products and putting them out on the market at the earliest possible time. It should not come as a surprise that the finance industry embraces these innovations that will help people transact with the world faster.
The financial industry has already proven itself to be an early adopter of new technologies. It managed to introduce concepts such as the wire transfer in the 1870s, automated teller machines (ATM) in the 1960s, and online payments in the 1990s. Automation has since been the industry's secret to enabling not only a smooth flow of day-to-day financial transactions for customers and the general population but also the continuous growth and success of businesses in the financial sector.
In this digital age of rapid advancement, automation will continue to be a driving force in this industry.
Nonetheless, automating even just one aspect of your financial operations can be a tricky task. If not approached properly, automation can be disastrous for the business, as technical glitches involving money will never be good news. Process automation should be done with accuracy and caution. Here are a few pointers to guide you once you decide to automate your enterprise:
1. It should benefit the customer. Automation should not be done just for the sake of making your services look fancy. The customer's welfare should come first. For example, the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) added an automated queueing system, allowing customers to queue effortlessly, while also enabling tellers to immediately see a client’s banking transaction request. This minimizes the time it takes for a transaction to occur, allowing both the customer and the bank to tend to other important tasks.
2. It should provide value. Any automation that is to be implemented in the workplace must be done because of the value it can provide, especially if it can save significant resources for the business. Back in the 1980s, for instance, credit card authorizations were done over the phone. However, this drove higher phone costs which meant higher operating expenses for both the company and the consumer, basically prompting credit card companies to develop a better authorization system for transactions from the 1980s to the 1990s. This movement originated in Europe, leading to the development of the Europay, Mastercard, and Visa (EMV) system that we know today.
3. Actual implementation is key. Successful business automation involves an orderly transition from the old to the new. Different technologies require different learning curves, and standard birthing pains can be expected when new processes are introduced. Your new automated process may have all the bells and whistles at the planning stage, but these will not count unless they are actually implemented and executed well.
The rollout of the EMV security system for ATM systems in the country is a process that has taken years to be fully established across all banks. When it was first introduced, banks took a considerable amount of time and effort to implement the technology, gradually upgrading their ATMs to be EMV-ready. Once the technology was in place and banks were ready to roll it out, educating customers about it took time as well. Various steps needed to be done to enable this transition to a new system that changed the financial world.
4. Be ready to make a heavy and constant investment. Implementing automation requires much capital that a business intending to automate must have the resources to do so. It is also important to remember that this investment is going to be a recurring one. This is very much evident especially in mobile banking, where major global banks such as Citibank and Maybank spend a total of USD80 million for mobile banking development alone. On top of that, they also allot about 10-20% of their annual budget to support and maintain the apps for mobile banking, given that mobile transactions are becoming the norm.
5. Have automation disaster recovery in place. There will be instances where automation may suffer due to disruptions such as disasters or other fortuitous events that can affect communication channels. This is especially true in the Philippines, as we live in a disaster-prone environment due to superstorms and other natural calamities. Thus, it is important to have a recovery plan in place to avoid disruption and to ensure business continuity. Contingency plans such as Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) and a highly secure Data Center can help businesses prevent downtime and financial losses in these situations.
At Globe, it is our mission to provide top-notch service to customers—both consumers and businesses—and ultimately contribute to the betterment of the lives of Filipinos. A huge part of the Philippine population remains unbanked, resulting in a lot of communities having limited access to financial services. In a shared goal with the government and through our financial services subsidiary, Mynt, we took advantage of the high penetration rate of mobile devices in the country and enabled Filipinos to access their finances and make banking transactions on mobile phones. With Mynt and GCash, people can transfer money locally and internationally, send money to their families, or pay bills in an instant, without incurring additional expenses for transportation or transaction fees. The big picture is to enable financial inclusion to Filipinos from all walks of life, from the less-fortunate to the privileged, and automation takes us one step closer to the goal.
Whether or not a business belongs to the finance industry, automation is key for an enterprise’s growth. Applying technology, even in the smallest aspects of a business, can help increase operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. With the right planning, good timing, and proper execution, automation will take industries a step further and ultimately make a difference in people’s lives.
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