Belfast Telegraph

Creating new possibilities in banking through digital innovation

Paul Convery, Head of BT Business in Northern Ireland

You’re out for a brisk walk. It’s sunny and warm and you’re gasping for water or a soft drink. But you’ve left your wallet or purse at home. No matter. Just visit a shop and use your fitness tracker to pay for your refreshment.

It’s not an imagined future. It’s reality right now. Banks are enabling customers to access their money through an increasing range of digital devices and Danske Bank is at the forefront of that revolution locally. It was the first lender in the UK to allow purchases through Garmin Pay. It also offers payments via Fitbits, Apple Watches, Samsung wearables and of course with smartphones too.

This digitalisation of financial services is not just driven by banks. Customers, used to the slick operations of tech giants and social media providers, are demanding the same seamless digital service from all of their digital solutions.

Danske Bank’s Chief Digital Officer, Søren Rode Andreasen, has a big ambition. He isn’t just aiming to be ahead of his market rivals: “I see us becoming the most forward-thinking business in Northern Ireland when it comes to digital”.

The Danish born executive, who now lives in Belfast, recognises that many customers will still want the option to do their banking in a branch. While the lender remains committed to continuing its traditional service, Mr. Andreasen points out, having endured our winter weather, that a visit to the bank here often necessitates an uncomfortable excursion out into the wind and rain. For the sake of comfort and simply convenience, many nowadays prefer to do their banking from the desk or sofa. The solution he says is to offer the “perfect balance” between face-to-face transactions and a digital self-service offering.

Danske’s engagement with its customers, whether through the medium of clicks or mortar, heavily depends on an infrastructure provided by BT Business in Northern Ireland. BT handles all of the bank’s voice and mobile communication as well as data connectivity between the bank’s branches and ATMs. This is all wrapped up in a single managed service from BT, which keeps things simple for the bank. The relationship is hugely significant for both businesses. Søren Rode Andreasen says “it’s super important to have a trusted partner like BT in the digital transformation of Danske Bank”.

Part of that transformation has involved Danske equipping frontline and head office staff with iPhone 8s. It’s the sort of investment normally reserved for executives, but the company believes that it is an effective way to spread a digital mindset throughout the business.

Human Resources Director, Caroline van der Feltz, says that the reaction from employees to the iPhones has been “hugely positive”. Once again, BT has worked in partnership with the bank to structure the contract in such a way that encourages staff to use the phones, to immerse themselves in the digital world without impediments.    

Customers of the bank will be familiar with the bank’s highly regarded mobile and tablet apps, but inside the organisation the new Danske Life app helps employees to connect and collaborate with each other. Digital technology also creates new possibilities. Caroline said: “Being able to work at a time and place that is convenient to you is very empowering – digital technology helps facilitate this.” On a practical level, this flexibility helps the bank retain staff and attract new talent from other organisations and universities.

It turns out the bank’s reputation in the digital space very much enhances the company’s appeal for prospective recruits.

In all of this, the partnership between the bank and BT Business in Northern Ireland generates reassurance for everyone. Caroline reflected: “Here in Northern Ireland there is undoubtedly a lot of trust in the Danske brand and there’s a lot of trust in the BT brand." It’s clearly a relationship where both sides are winners.

For further news and insights, join our BT Business & Public Sector Network in Northern Ireland LinkedIn group.

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