Cisco’s 5th installment in the webseries, Navigating The Shift, features financial industry experts as they discuss key trends and strategies. In attendance were Ariel Roda (Chief Information Officer, PBCOM), Ana Pascual (Vice President for Key Merchants and Acquirers, GCash) and Sharoakh Charna (Industry Lead for FSI, CISCO APJC).
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a huge shift in financial service industries. Lockdown restrictions prevented consumers from physical banking. Institutions had to adapt quickly to accommodate increased demands for digital transformation. This meant investing in infrastructure and technology to ensure their clients’ needs are met. Furthermore, companies had to introduce digital banking to a consumer base that leans more towards traditional banking.
“The traditional way was to go to a physical branch, right? Especially for some set of our customers who preferred to have a face-to-face relationship with many of our frontliners. This is a subset that I think had some difficulty. Fortunately, with tools like Cisco Webex, and all the other online collaborative tools, we’ve been able to continue that relationship with our customers and ease them into this new way of banking,” explains PBCOM CIO Ariel Roda.
Arguably, a lot of Filipinos are getting more comfortable with non-traditional forms of banking. GCash, for example, saw a sudden surge in new users over the span of 1 year. At 27 million users, there’s no better example of the massive shift to online payment methods. Restrictions due to COVID-19 provided a much-needed incentive for users to go digital.
“Because of the strict lockdowns, everyone learned how to buy their essentials online. Everyone learned how to pay their bills online. Everyone learned how to buy their groceries online. They wanted to find a platform that could do all those things in one, so you wouldn’t have to learn multiple things,” according to GCash VP Ana Pascual.
Be that as it may, not all financial service platforms were made equal. Because everything is going digital, users now expect a lot more from their apps. It’s no longer a matter of just function. Customers are looking for a better user experience. This means a banking app isn’t just competing with other banking apps; they’re competing with Facebook, Google and Amazon as well, according to Cisco FSI Industry Lead Sharoakh Charna.
While most financial institutions have been able to adapt with digital transformation, it’s a double-edged sword. As more people perform their financial transactions online, they’re left vulnerable to cyberattacks. There has been a marked increase in phishing, where attackers steal the target’s information by pretending to be a legitimate institution. This spurned financial service providers to beef up their security.
“Financial institutions should have already installed a number of protection mechanisms. For example, two-factor authentication using PINS. For major transactions that are being done online or through the phone, we’ve been offered biometrics, face recognition and fingerprints to authenticate who you are. We have several investments into upgrading a lot of our firewalls. They can monitor, mention which devices (are connected), the where when whats of the transaction,” says Roda.
Cisco’s Charna reiterates that a balance between user experience, security and usability are key components for financial service platforms.
“Cisco has always been the backbone of connecting infrastructure in a secure manner. We’ve been doing that for decades. That’s what has set us apart in the past. But strategy has always been the wider thing, about innovating and about looking at it from a platform perspective, keeping in mind the customer,” explains Charna.
Cisco has been integral in providing solutions to financial institutions. Their Cisco Webex is widely implemented as a simple conferencing tool for more personalized transactions.
Watch the 5th episode of Navigating The Shift, New Normal Trends and Opportunities for the Philippine Financial Services Industry, here:
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