Behind the Idea: TSB

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TSB is a retail bank that operates in the UK. With over 7,000 employees across a nationwide network of branches and operating centres, they are dedicated to their 5 million customers across the UK.

At the start of the outbreak in March last year, the banking sector faced a real challenge in meeting customer needs in a world that had changed almost overnight. Owing to our modern banking platform, we fast-tracked a number of key projects that helped our customers bank safely from home with greater access to products and the services they need. Initiatives such as the TSB Smart Agent chatbot – delivered in five days – as well as making over 30 offline forms available digitally via Adobe saw us meeting the needs of our customers in a rapidly changing environment. 

Since then, we’ve maintained this momentum and are increasingly active with our partnership programme. Digital transactions now make up 90% of all transactions at TSB, which shows the sheer reliance of our services by customers and the move towards digital.

Jason Wilkinson Brown is Head of Open Banking & Partnerships at TSB responsible for delivering partner and open banking led propositions that help TSB customers to improve their money confidence. Prior to TSB Jason was part of the team that launched business accounts at Starling Bank, he’s also worked for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia leading their financial wellbeing initiatives.

Jason Wilkinson Brown, Head of Partnerships at TSB 

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

The response has been one of collaboration rather than threat. Banks are repositioning themselves from a cultural and technology perspective so we have the infrastructure and processes to partner with and harness these new innovations for the benefit of our customers. TSB recently signed Tech Nation’s Fintech Pledge as an example of our commitment to make it easier to work with companies innovating in areas that match our strategic direction. We partnered with six fintech providers in 2020 alone.

How has this changed over the past few years?

It’s probably only accelerated as customer expectations have increased exponentially and a low-interest environment has meant traditional banks have had to think differently about how they operate. The arrival of Open Banking has also contributed as by its nature it has brought banks and fintechs closer together. Our programme reflects both of these points – with partnerships aimed at boosting money confidence such as Wealthify’s investment platform, ApTap for bill management and Bud, which will help provide even more informed conversations with customers.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

Besides increased competition and changing customer needs and behaviours; banks supporting fintechs by running incubators has also brought about significant change. In 2020 TSB ran TSB Labs in partnership with WeWork. We chose three fintechs that specifically had interesting innovations on Open Banking and worked with them for three months on helping them a) develop their proposition and b) readying them for working with large banks. As part of this process, we gave the fintechs exposure to the bank’s leadership and other senior members of the business. This worked both ways because it allowed the fintechs to gain valuable feedback and exposure but also offered leadership an external view which was the catalyst for internal changes.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

We’ve been highly active in creating an inspiring and creative partnership programme to meet the needs and expectations of customers in an increasingly digital age. These include ApTap – bill switching, Wealthify – Investments and we’ve also started to harness Open Banking more with a soon-to-be-announced partnership with Bud. We’re working with a partner to use Open Banking to develop a new money confidence experience. Internally (and pre-pandemic) we also powered all our staff charity donations at the tuck shop using Open Banking. Our goal to deliver money confidence to our customer base is at the heart of the partnerships and platforms we choose to work with.

What benefits have these brought?

We’ve seen customer savings of over £160 a year on average through use of ApTap, with one customer saving close to £400. The pilot confirmed the benefits and popularity of such an app, which we’ll soon be rolling out widely. And through Wealthify we’ve already had over £1m invested by customers in just two months, as we help to make our customers’ money go even further through a tried and tested platform. Our programme is focused on giving customers an innovative digital banking experience with options available to them that go way beyond conventional offers. And with several other partnerships to be announced this year, we’re building momentum with our digital offering that gives a variety of choice from bill handling to investing in just a few quicks.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

As more and more people chose to bank digitally and online it’s vital that the industry keeps pace with customer demands and changing behaviours. The importance of being able to quickly meet customer needs by accelerating strategy proved crucial at the start of the pandemic. As consumer habits change, banks must deliver innovative solutions and broaden their offer beyond the previously limited functions a bank might offer. These values are at the heart of our partnership programme as we strive to deliver digital offerings that can offer a diverse banking experience from a phone or browser.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

Absolutely. As signatories to Technation’s Fintech Pledge we maintain a strong commitment to close collaboration with the fintech industry. With a modern banking platform that allows us to be reactive and agile, coupled with partnerships with globally leading tech providers we are well placed to meet these challenges head-on.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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