By Peter-Jan Van De Venn, Strategy Director Fintech, Mobiquity

SMEs are integral to the UK economy. They account for roughly two-thirds of UK employment and half of the turnover in the UK private sector. COVID-19 has resulted in many SMEs needing access to digital banking services like never before. However, very little is being done to make setting up a new bank account smoother, also known as ‘digital onboarding.'

Industry research indicates that for years SMEs have been underserved in digital banking, and little progress has been made to achieve the same quality of services for business banking as that found in personal banking. 

While challenger banks are typically leading the way in leveraging technology to improve the customer experience for personal banking, both traditional and challenger banks need to use technology to provide similar human-centric digital services for business banking. If they don't, they simply risk losing them as customers.

Banking frictions

Our research with banks across Europe shows that when it comes to opening an account online, only 20% of the banks provide online account opening services to business versus 65% for consumers.

In their daily lives, SMEs have frictionless customer journeys and effortless customer experience when they use big tech services, like Google or Facebook. Furthermore, personal digital banking standards are quite high, so SME customers expect similar experience in business banking. That's why SMEs should also be served with an entirely digital onboarding process - where you can open an account without needing to provide any physical documentation and/or visit a branch. Banks need to act now as according to a recent survey - 40% of banking customers said that they would abandon opening an account if it was complicated and time-consuming, so banks need to speed up their digitisation process to retain their SME clients.

How to improve SME experiences

Digitising the onboarding process is actually in the bank's best interests: It's more convenient for customers, it's cheaper for banks and leads to more control and auditability of the process.

There are many off-the-shelf tools and services available that can reduce the costs and time-to-market of digital onboarding significantly. The key is to get the right customer experience expertise on board to design a smooth and frictionless process, select the right software and service partners and you're perfectly equipped to get your SME onboarding process to the satisfying human centric level. We recently supported Bank ABC to create the first digital-only bank in Bahrain - ila Bank - using Jumio's artificial intelligence (AI)-powered face biometrics software for identity verification. Now, ila's customers can verify their identity with a ‘selfie' and a picture of their ID, completing digital onboarding in under five minutes. Not only does this keep customers happy by reducing online fraud and customer frustration, but it also complies with strict local know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) mandates to ensure greater security.

Banks that harness these technologies combined with a human touch point will improve SMEs' customer experience and capture this segment. Only then can banks break the cycle of under-serving, to better provision for the small and medium-sized business community.

For further information please visit Mobiquity