Written by Diana Serrano
Last week, our team was honored to be included in a Plug and Play webinar covering changes in fintech, particularly in light of the global pandemic. Plug and Play is the world’s largest innovation platform, involved with hundreds of fast-growing tech companies at any given time. This organization hosts crucial conversations with business leaders and creates free educational content – like this latest webinar.
We presented alongside Onfido, Glia and TelosTouch. Not only did we get a chance to showcase Airkit, but our team had a great opportunity to learn from this discussion. So, we’re sharing our notes with you here!
Delivering Tech Tools to Small Businesses
The webinar started with a fascinating conversation between Plug and Play CEO Saeed Amidi and Irv Henderson, Chief Digital Officer of Small Business at US Bank. Mr. Amidi asked some important questions about the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and how the banking industry is responding. We’ve summarized this session below:
Serving Small Business Owners
Mr. Henderson explained that US Bank is re-imagining its relationship with business owners.
Small business owners are increasingly changing the way they run their businesses, relying on software tools to help with operations tasks. The services offered by the bank help business owners stay on top of things like balances and cash flow.
“One of the key tectonic shifts here is that small business owners are increasingly running their business through software, because it gives them insight in real time,” he said.
Mr. Henderson went on to say the pandemic will accelerate the focus on technology when the bank interacts with small business owners. He cited the fact that his team has just built a new software product. This type of development is not traditionally associated with a bank, but now, it’s instrumental in being there for the customer.
Looking Ahead to the New Normal
During this crisis, many entrepreneurs are being more creative than ever. Mr. Henderson noted stories of coffee shops temporarily converting to grocery stores and a whisky manufacturer even switching to making hand sanitizer.
“You see that level of creativity in the way that small businesses are turning and kind of changing the way they deliver their business.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Henderson considered what the new reality will look like once businesses are allowed to re-open. The executive cautioned that the re-opening process will have inevitable starts and stops, leading to a new normal.
“Particularly for the small business owner, I do see a different way of operating,” he said.
There are likely to be new ways of shopping, restaurant dining and even business distribution. Retail could be re-imagined in terms of smaller footprint for real estate. Restaurants are likely to expand on the “order ahead” experience. These types of developments will mean a big adjustment for business owners.
A Shift in Mindset
As the reality of small business operations changes, Mr. Henderson emphasized the importance of tech tools. In the enterprise world, software for providing actionable business data already exists. Now, the financial industry has become more technologically-focused, aiming to deliver the same level of helpful software to smaller companies.
“If you think about this conversation accelerated, it can deliver data insights. A compelling reason why the business owner comes back to look is to figure out how to run their business,” he said.
In this more automated future, Mr. Henderson advises that banks engage their customers with streamlined experiences. For example, banks could make the working capital experience more transparent, offering business owners lines of credit in accordance to business patterns. Technology has the potential to make such a transaction fully digital and intuitive.
Room for Optimism
Ending on a positive note, this banking leader predicted that small businesses will run much more efficiently in the future, due to this period of tech acceleration.
“None of us could have predicted COVID-19 and the impact, but a fundamental difference between now and 2008 is that the banks have very strong balance sheets,” he said. “The banks are in a strong position to be able to do things like forbearance.”
Mr. Henderson also commented on the passion of business owners and how that inspires his team to make operations a little easier. Innovative new tech tools for this purpose have a huge role to play in the future.
How Airkit Can Help
As you can imagine, this conversation was a tough act to follow. Still, our team had a great time presenting here. For those of you who don’t know, Airkit is a low-code platform that allows customer-obsessed teams to create digital customer experiences.
We like to say that if you can do a V-lookup in Excel, you can build an app. Most importantly, you can do so in a matter of days, without worrying about securing engineering resources. Since customers are becoming more tech-savvy and the business landscape is shifting, delivering stand-out CX quickly is a competitive advantage.
As Irv Henderson noted, developing online experiences is not a task traditionally associated with banks. Thanks to Airkit’s pre-built templates, customer-facing teams in the financial industry don’t have to start from scratch. If you’re intrigued by low-code platforms, you can read more on the topic here.
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