Digital corporate customer business

Patrons want what banks cannot offer (yet)

SMEs represent around 99 percent of workplaces in Switzerland. The corporate customer business with SME is therefore strategically relevant from a banking point of view – but so far with scant orientation to the digital requirements of small companies.

Urs Binder, 5.

The “Digital Corporate Customer Business” study by the Swisscom financial competence centre e-foresight and the Institute for Financial Services Zug (IFZ) at the University of Lucerne looked closely at digitisation in SME banking. They analysed the service spectrum offered by the 50 largest retail banks in Switzerland. Here 473 corporate customers – with a focus on companies with 1 to 250 employees – provided information on the benefits that they see in digitised bank products and services. Ten important insights:

E-banking furthest ahead

At most banks, SME can submit and initiate electronic invoices (94%). Push messages with important information are available from 80% of the banks. The SMEs questioned also attach the highest average overall benefit to e-banking with 2.58 out of 5 points.

Integration requires improvement

According to the banks' own statements, most SME customers can link the account to an accounting solution. But this usually tends to be complicated and involves downloading data files. Only 8% of the banks enable automatic synchronisation or have integrated the accounting function directly in the online portal, like the Valiant Bank for instance.

Clouded view of finances

None of the 50 banks examined offered a real SME financial cockpit with key figures presented and updated daily. In contrast, 51% of the SMEs surveyed see a very high or somewhat high benefit in a financial cockpit.

Communication traditional

Only the most important banks offer advice via web or video chat. This nevertheless corresponds to customer preference: SMEs also want to deal with their bank on a personal basis in the age of digitisation. Web chat and video consulting are not attractive for most of those questioned.

Digital payment please

With 2.4 points, SME rate payment options such as mobile payment, payment solutions for webshops and mobile POS pay terminals as the second most interesting factor. The offer spectrum is developing nicely: 56% of the banks already offer mobile payment solutions.

Classical financing

Digital offers are a scare commodity in the area of financing. Only 8% of the banks enable mortgages to be taken out online, while a repayment or extension online is only possible with 6% of them. Only a single bank offers online credit contracts (some others are ready to start off).

Crowd-lending unpopular

Neither the banks nor the customers showed any appreciable interest in new forms of financing.

No demand for banking-related services

Services that are not part of the banks' core business attract little customer interest. Most SMEs eschew online factoring, online trust offers or the online sale of insurance. The same applies for networking platforms in the style of a “corporate Facebook”.

Gaps in the market

A digital contract archive, automated integration of accounting, the digital mutation of powers of attorney, a financial cockpit as well as the online conclusion of fixed-term deposits are offered by less than 10% of the banks The SMEs see a comparatively high benefit in these five areas.

Bank ranking with narrow tip

The digitisation endeavours of the banks in corporate customer business are still in their infancy. The study identifies only two “first movers” who are actively promoting digitisation. On their heels are around a dozen “followers” with the first digital products and services. The lion's share is made up of “late followers” who, at best, have sporadic digitisation initiatives in their corporate customer business.

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