Consumer-facing companies of all kinds – from retailers to service providers – have been looking for ways to differentiate themselves through customer experience. Today, companies are offering customers new ways to engage with them based on their individual preferences. This is exemplified by giving them access to information, services and products from anywhere and utilizing new technologies to fundamentally change customer journeys, relationships and interactions.
Banking and financial services industries, which have been historically conservative and cautious when it comes to integrating new technologies, are starting to follow suit as they look to meet shifting consumer expectations and demands.
Now, financial players like the Bank of Montreal (BMO) are meeting customer expectations through innovative approaches powered by data and technology. For this installment of the Data Center Spotlight, we’ll be exploring how the Bank of Montreal is setting the tone for fintech leaders by embracing new technologies – all of which are powered by data centers.
Embracing the Blockchain Ecosystem
Last year, BMO was among the first of several major Canadian banks to invest in and join the SecureKey Technologies’ digital identity network powered by IBM’s blockchain technology. What this means for BMO users according to Financial Post is they will be able to securely confirm their identity (e.g. age or credit score) through a user-friendly mobile app, as opposed to traditional, paper-heavy methods. Because of the nature of the blockchain structure, customer information is more secure and it’s far less likely for identity theft to occur.
Not only will this option attract early-adopter users seeking out more convenient and streamlined financial transactions, but it will also bring peace of mind to users knowing their data is safer than it would be sitting as paperwork on someone’s desk. This offering also gives customers mobile access to financial services institutions outside of the typical “nine-to-five” business window since operations aren’t reliant on paperwork in a filing cabinet in the bank.
Empowering Fintech Leaders from the Beginning
BMO has made it very apparent that they value up-and-coming fintech innovators by partnering with local startup accelerators like the DMZ at Ryerson University and 1871. Their “Next Big Idea in Fintech” contest with the DMZ helped launch a budding insurance package provider, Zensurance, with a $25,000 grand prize. Their partnership with 1871 will offer exclusive three-month long mentorship program as well as an opportunity to pilot new BMO Harris Bank technology.
By inserting themselves into these startup communities, BMO positions itself as a champion and mentor for the fintech space in the Canadian market. Because they are investing in what is quickly becoming the backbone of the financial world, they are in the unique position of seeing what finance’s future holds while having a wealth of knowledge and two centuries worth of experience to guide them.
Opening the Door to Outside Help
Digital transformation is inevitable. It’s about how companies take it in stride and listen to the needs of their teams and their customers. In a recent survey, ITBusiness.ca sought to discover if banks are coming around to the idea that tech partnerships with outside providers are not only unavoidable, but the smart thing to do.
BMO sets a great example for embracing technological innovation in the financial industry. Last year, BMO released an offering that allowed users to open bank accounts from their smartphones, something that traditionally needed to be completed within a branch. Developments like this, in addition to their mentoring role in the fintech space, highlight their understanding of the importance of industry partnership and cooperation.
The tables are turning in the Canadian financial space and BMO appears to be ahead of the curve. Fostering fintech innovation and solid partnerships is helping them lead the charge as thought a leader, and reliable data centers are going to be what powers these cutting-edge changes.