Digital-First Banking

Digital-First Banking Leads Contactless Charge

mobile banking

Touchless. Contactless. These are the adjectives attending COVID-19 everywhere we find it — or fear it. And while it can be fairly said that good relationships don’t start with fear, that doesn’t always apply. Fear signals risk and attunes us to it, improving the most urgent decisions. Ideally.

This all helps explain the pandemic shift to digital services, as is the case with banking. PYMNTS’ July 2020 Digital-First Banking Tracker® done in collaboration with NCR Corporation provides a concentrated education in prevailing digital-first banking trends, and their role in the recovery.

“With the recent shift toward digital self-service and touchless interactions, financial institutions [FIs] should be reevaluating their business strategies and embracing a digital-first approach to banking through self-service and within the branch ecosystem,” Douglas Brown, senior vice president and general manager, NCR Digital Banking, told PYMNTS.

“Priorities should include digital acceleration, faster innovation and deeper personalization. Elevating the banking experience and providing individualized advice and guidance to create stronger engagement through digital is vital.”

FIs Getting The Message

There’s no escaping the fact that people are uncomfortable with public surfaces, like the kind found in bank branches. We’ve crossed the Rubicon when it comes to pushing buttons.

With 45.6 percent of customers still using branches demanding that more be done to physically protect them from infection, more banks are now getting the message and going digital-first.

“Some FIs are abandoning branches entirely in favor of digital banking options, such as mobile banking apps or web-based bank portals, allowing customers to maintain their financial lifestyles without setting foot in branches,” according to the latest Digital-First Banking Tracker®.

“A recent study found that digital banking was the number one way consumers interacted with banks, using apps and browsers for more functions than ever before. Citigroup saw an 84 percent increase in daily mobile check deposits in May, for example, while digital bill payments increased by 78 percent between February and April.”

NCR’s Doug Brown told PYMNTS that, “Amid this digital shift, there is also a segment of users who still prefer person-to-person interactions. Banks and credit unions should also be rethinking their branch strategies and offering collaboration tools such as integrated teller machines to bring forward contactless, digitally enabled branch experiences.”

Data Runs Through It

Data and how it’s both analyzed and secured are very near the heart of digital-first banking. FIs large and small serving diverse constituencies need the right tools for the job.

Scotiabank Vice President of Digital Channels Adam Swinemar notes in the July Digital-First Banking Tracker® that “We’re using more data to identify opportunities for clients so we can have more optimal digital solutions, and we’re also passing that data over to our sales teams so that they can lead with digital conversations.”

That aligns with leading-edge thinking on how FIs need to first access then utilize insights uniquely theirs, informing product design and all-important customer experience requirements.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to personalization is not enough. By leveraging contextual data, FIs can enable deeper user segmentation to provide personal, unique experiences from account opening to onboarding and beyond,” said NCR’s Brown. “For many, this will mean pursuing alignment across the enterprise to break down silos and implement changes.”



Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border.

Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.