By @SimonCocking  great interview with Sean Jevens, Head of AIB Digital Channels. We’re delighted to have AIB on board as a main sponsor for the Fintech 20 Ireland awards and event on October 26th. For more information about entering your company see here and to attend the event itself October 26th, at Moores Auditorium, UCD book tickets here. 

What is your background briefly?

I’m a former developer, a “techie”, and began my career working for the government and then moved into what would now be called the “FinTech” sector.  I always found the application of technology, and in particular how it could be productized, far more interesting than the “pure tech”. As such I moved into a Product Management role and spent seventeen years in total designing software products for Banks around the globe.  Eleven years ago I came back to Ireland for my first stint working in AIB where I managed the Online/Digital Banking Channels.  I then left and for the last five years worked in other sectors including gambling and recruitment, focusing on more Agile development but was delighted to returned to AIB a year ago for my second stint at leading our Digital Banking offerings.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

Yes definitely.  Having started in software development, moving to product design and management and then blending the demands in different sectors, I feel I have had the building blocks to really understanding how products are developed.  My global experience certainly helped to give a rounded view too and created a keen interest in Customer pain points.  In many cases when delivering products to overseas markets there are local implications involved.  Individual market behaviour and needs can vary, and this is where true innovation occurs.  For example, how do you sell loans where you don’t have a vast branch network and your market does not have easy access to a stable internet connection? In one project I worked on, we helped the client with these issues to successfully sell and distribute loans via their ATM network.

Thankfully, our infrastructure in Ireland doesn’t require this level of challenge but I take these experiences with me as I work with my teams to find the best way to serve our customers.

In your opinion, what do you believe AIB Digital Channels does well, and how does AIB plan to future proof itself against the challenger banks?

In AIB, we have a large active base of over 1.2M digital customers, as good as industry peers around the world.  We also have a strong NPS (Net Promoter Score) and in the first half of this year we saw a 15% increase in customer online transactions compared to 2016.  While the metrics are strong, of course we still can’t be complacent, as you pointed out there is plenty disruption in the industry.  I believe that for any company to succeed the most important thing is that they are solving real customer pain points.  The problem statement is the most important thing, and not to allow yourself to get caught up in a hype of a new technology only to apply it to the wrong problem.

Our developments in AIB Digital Channels are very much driven by our customer demand.  We recognise that in Ireland there is a clear customer appetite for technology. For example, the Customer Connected Survey 2017 found that 81% of people in Ireland use a smartphone, that’s compared with 77% in the UK.  As a nation, we also score high in the percentage of people who use the internet for personal use – 88% (84% in the UK). (Note: you can view the Google Customer Barometer here)

Customer focus is central to what we do in AIB.  The staff on my team are building our Mobile, Online (desktop), Website and Self Service networks –touchpoints where customers interact with AIB but may not necessarily interact with our staff directly.  To keep our customer focus my teams regularly leave the office and listen to customers in our branches, via our call centres or at events.  Our innovations are customer driven.

Will we see a cashless society in Ireland?

I don’t believe that we’re on the road to a cashless society, however I do think we’re heading towards a low-cash society.  We’re now beginning to see evidence of cash usage slowing, approximately 2% down on last year. In addition, the substantial growth in contactless coupled with the rollout of Mobile payments, which will take some time to become mass market, will drive the migration.

Changes such as Open Banking, and the integration of the large tech firms (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, PayPal etc) into the payments sector will encourage more usage of digital channels over time, as payments will become ‘invisible’.   Cash is a low friction method of payment, which is one of the key drivers for its usage.  Historically digital payments have been high friction which have slowed the adoption rates, as technology improves and customer experience becomes seamless I expect that we’ll see an accelerated migration from cash.

Eddie Buckley and Deirdre Moore, aiming to make AIB #1 Irish Business Bank. Supporting Fintech 20 Ireland

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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