Banking as a Service isn’t just about technology
When reading articles about Banking as a Service (BaaS), I have noticed that technology is usually the main focus, sometimes the only one. Exclusive focus on technology can be dangerous as it isn’t the only place where major challenges lie – maybe I’m saying this because I’ve spent my life building robust and scalable technology platforms, but still, we are at risk of ignoring other key aspects of the service required.
Technology is important and impossible to avoid in today’s financial world. It is already at the centre of the industry – and at the core of everything that is changing today.
In this environment, having the right technology platform is critical and you’ll need to make sure yours is flexible, robust and scalable. But whilst technology is crucial in the BaaS world, it is far from being the only challenge.
As with any complex ‘as a Service’ offering, the operational and support elements of the solution is where most issues will originate. Yet, I rarely see that being discussed in the same detail as technology.
For customers, the level of support during, both, the onboarding and operational phases of the service is key. As such, it’s important to understand the process around onboarding, how long will it take, what could go wrong and how potential problems are mitigated. Who will be responsible? Will I get a dedicated onboarding manager or will my requests get farmed into a team – and so on.
Once the service is live, what will happen when I have a problem? Technical SLAs are often clear but what about operational ones?
In a heavily regulated environment, compliance can often throw us curve balls. What is the process for communicating new issues and for getting over the resulting hurdles?
These are all crucial questions. Yet I don’t think providers spend enough time and energy clarifying these operational aspects of an all-inclusive service and re-assuring customers that the day to day running of the overall service is in good hands and that regulatory requirements are being addressed in a timely fashion.
As a BaaS company, we provide a clean and well-structured API that is easy to understand and integrate with. This is fantastic as it helps customers to access our technical infrastructure quickly and smoothly, but it is only a small part of the overall offering. We need to ensure the onboarding project runs smoothly and that customer expectations are managed and properly met.
Issues or questions arise frequently through the onboarding phase. Making sure operations are organised and planned well enough so these are anticipated and dealt with in a timely manner is important, and critical to making sure our customers go live on time.
We operate in a space where every week without the service represents opportunity loss for our customers and an opportunity for their competitors to get a head start. Whilst onboarding projects aren’t massively complex, they do require the attention of a project manager to keep them on track and manage all the third-party relationships, as well as managing and meeting customers’ expectations.
Day to day support requires a Customer Success team to be available to answer customer queries, either about specific issues or more general questions. That team will often have to liaise with the implementation team and the technical team to resolve customer issues, so having an effective internal communication process is key.
This is even more important in the regulated space these services are provided in. For the service to remain operational as a whole, we need to make sure compliance issues are being addressed, which means becoming aware of them in the first place. Yet it is sometimes unclear as to whose responsibility it is to stay up to date and resolve these.
Providing a great level of support can sometimes become expensive, but I truly believe this isn’t optional in this day and age and in this environment.
So many things can go wrong if we don’t provide the right level of support, from technology glitches to compliance ones – and these can worsen quickly if not dealt with quickly. So giving full attention to our customers queries and issues is absolutely critical.
This is why Lerex is set-up to be able to provide a great service to all our customers, from very small ones to large ones. Our aim is to give every customer the feeling that they are our most important client.
Finally, customer education is an important piece of the jigsaw. Whilst many understand components of the solution, not every customer is fully familiar with all its aspects. One could argue that BaaS providers front those aspects and, therefore, that there is no need for customers to understand them fully, but I would argue the opposite. The customer brand is often the market-facing one, and being aware of how things work in the background is critical to a good running of their business; from making the right marketing claims, to answering their own customers’ queries.
That education doesn’t necessarily have to happen from day one but, as the relationship builds up, I believe it is part of the role of a BaaS provider to educate their customers to the technical and regulatory environment we operate in, so that everyone avoids bad surprises down the line.
In conclusion, there is a lot more to a Banking as a Service offering than technology alone. Whilst I agree that a BaaS business is a technology businesses, I would love to see more emphasis on the operational side as it is too often forgotten about in sales and marketing pitches and in real-life.