Both big banks and neobanks face unique challenges. When it comes to customer service and other forms of traditional banking, people may think that big banks have a leg up on neobanks. Despite this, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t important things big banks can learn from neobanks, and vice versa.  

What is a Big Bank?

Most people know what a big bank is, as it’s pretty self-explanatory. Chances are you have or previously had a chequing, savings or lending account from a large financial institution.  

Big banks have several branches located throughout the countries they operate in. Customers can visit them for quick delivery of funds from ATMs, cheque deposits, to open accounts, and other daily banking needs. Big banks offer their customers a face they can communicate with.  

What is a Neobank?

Neobanks are banks that operate online, providing the same services traditional banks do, but 100% digitally.  

They are sometimes known as challenger banks, and they don’t have branches and ATMs that clients usually visit for their customer service needs. They have only been around for fifteen years or so, originally forming in the UK as startup businesses during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.  

Advantages of Neobanks

Simplicity 

Big banks could learn a thing or two from neobanks about the importance of directness and ease. You could even say that big banks need to get out of the Stone Age with their lack of automation. 

Neobanks are known for simple procedures that don’t lead to face-to-face interactions and added stress. Transferring money, ordering cards, and simply opening an account are arguably faster when dealing with neobanks. This doesn’t mean that big banks don’t offer these services; you just have to deal with long waits and additional steps.  

Agility 

Since they don’t have to secure customer-facing staff, investment interest, and spaces to operate from, neobanks are usually agile. This means they can ‘open’ and start offering their banking services much faster than standard financial institutions. This can also allow them to start securing new customers without having to worry about opening and staffing branches.   

Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Neobanks are new, fresh and making waves in the financial world. All of this combined means they have more of an innovative view of banking services, and the entrepreneurial teams behind them are consistently hashing out new ideas.  

They give off the impression that they were once just like their customers, looking for alternative banking options. Big banks, in comparison, don’t always present themselves as entrepreneurially enthusiastic since they’ve had somewhat of a monopoly on the financial world for decades, so they haven’t had to.  

Advantages of Big Banks

Recognition and Loyalty 

Widely recognised banks have the massive advantage of customers knowing who they are. Simply put, people comprehend the messaging of traditional banks because they recognise the name. Thales Group notes that the “brand and trust premium held by the traditional banks” renders them at the forefront of customers’ minds.   

This means that when big banks implement new digital strategies that make their customers’ lives easier, people find out about it right away. These grateful customers also feel that their bank is doing this to make their lives easier.  

Neobanks are at a disadvantage in comparison since the average person is still more familiar with traditional financial institutions than 100% online alternatives. So while they’re all about digital automation and simplicity, all a traditional bank has to do is implement the same techniques, and it may put them at more of an advantage.  

Stability 

Stability can mean a few different things for customers. First, banking isn’t just about your financial needs being automated and easy. You also want to know that your bank will exist in the long run. Since neobanks are still a relatively new venture, many customers will ask themselves if it’s just easier to take your business to a bank that’s been around for longer than your lifetime.  

Furthermore, sometimes you need a specific, comprehensive banking package that a completely online endeavour isn’t prepared to offer you. Traditional banks may offer more financial stability to customers with their wide range of packages. 

Lastly, some people view 100% digital banking as unstable since there is no one to talk to directly about your concerns. Older individuals and people who appreciate face-to-face interaction may view big banks as more stable than neobanks.  

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, both big banks and neobanks can learn from one another. There is no real ‘right’ way to offer financial products and services, but there is room for growth on both ends.  

Neither venture will ever be perfect, as they always have to consider the different needs of individuals. But for big banks, there is room for improvement in automation, digital transformation and an entrepreneurial passion for new ideas. Likewise, neobanks can observe their big competitors to understand how much customers appreciate familiarity, stability and loyalty.  

Want to read more on the banking industry, and how it intersects with Agile? Our new White Paper, Agile In Banking looks at opportunities that agile management can provide the banking sector. Head here to find out more!

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If you’d like to engage Fatimah as a coach/advisor for your organisation to help you make sense of the chaos, then you can reach out to her by email at Fatimah.a@agilemanagementoffice.com