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Regional Banks’ Secret Weapon for Digital Success

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By Ved Antani, Vice President, Engineering and Managing Director, Twilio India

Regional rural banks and credit unions often set themselves apart by offering personalised, community-oriented experiences their enterprise competitors can’t. As financial services shift to a virtual-first dynamic, maintaining those connections is the key to winning and keeping customers.

According to IBEF’s Indian Banking Industry Analysis report, India is emerging as an economic giant, with its fintech market projected to grow to Rs. 6.2 trillion by 2025. This is a testimony to the enormous growth, increasing popularity, and the myriad of benefits offered by digital banking. While online banking in India isn’t new, financial service providers are navigating a massively changed landscape today. Younger, more technologically savvy users are more likely to rely on mobile banking solutions than their older counterparts, and digital solutions aren’t just a helpful alternative anymore. They’re often the primary—and sometimes only—way users want to manage their finances.

This presents a challenge for regional banks who have historically relied on traditional, in-person experiences: the lion’s share of users are becoming more and more likely to gravitate toward larger institutions with an existing suite of advanced digital features.

But that outcome isn’t inevitable; leaders at regional institutions have a deep understanding of what customers need from their financial partners and know how to build lasting, trusted relationships.

Bringing that experience to a digital strategy sets your business apart from the competition, helping you win and keep customers who want the best in convenient, personalised, and trusted financial services.

Personalised solutions are key to standing out

The most valued features of mobile banking apps are simple tools like depositing checks and transferring funds. That’s because the core desire for mobile users is a more convenient way to handle the same tasks they would at a local branch—just with no driving, no parking, and no waiting in line.

But a website and mobile app with core banking tools are now the bare minimum. To compete with industry giants, regional banks and credit unions need to shape their virtual offerings around more complex customer needs.

One-on-one assistance

A major part of what’s lost in a digital environment is the face-to-face, one-on-one interactions that help customers know and trust their financial institutions. But we’re in a new era—one where checking in with your doctor or attending a party virtually is starting to seem like an everyday norm, not a novelty.

A custom video conferencing solution built to meet your businesses’ needs can supplement and enhance in-person interactions. Not only does video give more customers the opportunity to build relationships and trust without having to step foot in a branch, it also gives your staff the flexibility to serve customers from home when needed.

Intuitive engagement

One of the best things about working with a regional bank or credit union is knowing that they will never be far when you need them. Whether you need to make a quick deposit or ask a question about your finances, the staff at your local branch are always ready to greet you with a smile.

With the right tools, you can bring that same convenience and ease to your customers’ digital experience. Automated engagement tools like IVR and chatbots make essential information accessible to your customers anytime, anywhere—letting you provide personalised engagement experiences at scale without increasing the workload of employees.

Helping customers embrace digital

In the wake of the pandemic, more and more industries have had to reckon with the digital divide—from the necessity of bringing seniors and underserved groups into the fold to refocusing on the importance of building meaningful, human connections.

How does that look in financial services? Many regional banks and credit unions do more than facilitate transactions—they build lasting relationships with customers as a trusted source of financial information and guidance. There are many ways for these financial institutions to do so. For example, in addition to providing customer centric services, regional rural banks promote and raise awareness about the Government’s many financial inclusion programs along with the added safety and benefits of carrying out transactions online. Additionally, leveraging that trust can help you migrate traditional customers into a digital ecosystem.

Trust and security

One of the main factors keeping customers invested in the traditional banking experience is fear that digital services are less secure. Though cybersecurity threats are a genuine concern, you can help overcome those fears by putting the right account security measures in place.

One of the simplest and most effective security features you can offer is two-factor authentication. By requiring a user to confirm their identity with a verified device or phone number, two-and-multi-factor authentication systems provide greater assurance that account information is secure.

Access and education

Not every customer who enters their local bank may be digitally literate, have a mobile device, or be able to access the internet at home—but each of those can be key to successfully understanding and managing your finances today.

The best way to overcome this is by using the tools you already have in place. A physical branch where customers feel comfortable and welcome can serve as a starting point for digital connection: employees can offer one-to-one instruction on navigating your mobile app, introduce users to your digital engagement channels, and more.

This humanises your digital services and empowers users to take charge of their finances—especially when they know any of their questions or concerns can be answered with self-serve communication tools or easy-to-use messaging services even when they can’t make it to see your staff in person.

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