Misys: Shaping the future of banking - Ákos Turny and Máté Eizenberger
Ongoing advancements in smartphone technology, together with the emergence of a more demanding consumer, have created a new playing field for software providers, such as Misys. On the eve of the launch of its new mobile banking application, Ákos Turny, head of product management, and product manager Máté Eizenberger give the lowdown on the mobile banking solution that's set to take the industry by storm.
"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful," wrote John Maeda, the former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, in his 2006 bestselling book The Laws of Simplicity.
It's certainly a dictum that lends itself to the present realm of mobile banking. In light of the global proliferation of smartphones - shipments surpassed one billion in 2013, according to IDC figures - customer demand is defined by solutions that are simple, relevant, personal and accessible.
This sea change is certainly keeping financial institutions on their toes, as they look to tap into the needs of tech-savvy consumers; for banking software providers, never has the market been more rewarding and competitive.
With close to 2,000 customers across 120 countries - including 47 of the world's top banks - Misys has emerged as one of the world's foremost financial services software providers.
In February of this year, Misys also completed the acquisition of IND Group, the Hungary-based digital-banking solutions vendor. In bringing in fresh technical expertise and a new source of innovation, the deal can be interpreted as a genuine declaration of intent, and is expected to bolster the group's leading core banking capabilities.
Speaking on the friendly takeover, Misys CEO Nadeem Syed commented: "This is very exciting for us and our customers. This deal reinforces our digital banking proposition in this rapidly expanding area by adding world-class consumer-oriented solutions to our offering. It helps us continue to grow our business, following six straight quarters of revenue growth, and secure our leadership position in banking."
The timing, on Misys' part, couldn't have been any better. In November - only three months prior to the tie-up - IND launched the new generation of its mobile banking app. Debuted at FinovateAsia 2013, it was met with considerable enthusiasm among delegates and came away with a Best of Show award.
There's an app for that
Focusing on the most common mobile banking activities, such as account balances (representing close to 50% of usage), transaction history and domestic transfers, the application was built with easy accessibility and user-friendliness at its absolute core, as Misys' new head of product management for digital channels, Ákos Turny, explains.
"Frustration-free banking is our mantra," he says. "We have a kind of frustration framework that measures how much frustration and annoyance users get from doing certain things such as having to go and pay a bill, checking their balance or logging in. The higher it is, the more we like to get rid of it.
"This is what our new mobile banking app is all about. We are trying to provide quicker access to the most-used functions of digital banking, like balances, account history or domestic payments. That also means easier authentication and putting the favourite functions out in front of the customer as clearly as possible."
According to Turny, the functionality model is "inspired by the Olympic Lane in London", the capital city's road network system that linked venues and other key sites in the city during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games to ensure that athletes and officials got to events on time.
It's an interesting model for efficiency but, in reality, the banking app certainly seems to carry less of the bottlenecked complexities sometimes associated with London's highways.
And, lest users should need a helping hand, the already multi award winning mobile app also comes with a "getting started" tutorial, as well as on-screen highlights and instructions.
"While we think it is self explanatory and very intuitive, we do appreciate that some users need some help to better understand the application," says Turny.
Perhaps the most striking quality is its high level of customisation, appreciative of the fact that different customers have different needs. Based on a widget concept, each user is availed of a personal dashboard, as well as a 'comfort zone' screen, in which instant balance and account information is provided without the need to log in.
"We have tried to work with the idea of personas, as to how the design should look in the context of the customer," says Turny. "It should be simple, relevant, accessible at any time and personal. So we tried to make and put functions into this system that meet this criteria, while getting rid of the unused functions.
"That's why we have this widget concept, which has information and function representation at the same time. You have your own personal dashboard - so you start with a comfort zone where you can see your balance. Then you can transfer money, if you so wish. You can also customise it according to your needs."
For financial institutions, the app also provides the perfect platform to cross-sell additional services. Together with the inbuilt geo-location features on many of today's smartphones, adverts, promotions and push notifications are triggered in direct correspondence to the account activities and financial profiles of respective users.
The end-to-end sales process also includes providing customers with offer widgets on their dashboard, application forms and call-back requests.
However, product manager Máté Eizenberger is keen to stress that such messages are based on using specific customer data, and are not a means of bombarding banking customers with arbitrary - and often unwanted - adverts.
"We wanted to build an application that was smart," he says. "It monitors how the customer does things, and then it learns from these actions, promoting them immediately if they need credit.
"For banks, we are helping them to communicate more effectively and more relevantly. So, it's not about hitting the customer with a lot of sales messages, but using the knowledge of the customer insight we have gained through categorisation to put out messages that are relevant."
As previously mentioned, customers, on the whole, still use applications for checking their account balances, but peer-to-peer (P2P) is becoming a more popular mode of mobile payment, particularly among the younger generation.
Attuned to such industry trends, it comes as no surprise that the app also includes a P2P money request gadget, through which payments can be made by email, SMS and Facebook. In addition, users can collect money from external customers via the likes of PayPal, Pay-by-Link and SEPA.
Such functions can also come in handy when splitting the bill between friends at a restaurant, as Turny explains.
"Payment functionalities, such as money requests, are a good feature," he says. "So, if you are having a meal with your friends, you can share the bill or request the money to be paid to you. That could be through PayPal, for instance; it is quite a useful feature in day-to-day life."
While the ascent of smartphone banking over recent years is undeniable, concerns over app security and potential hack threats are never far from the cycle of debate. Just how has Misys gone about ensuring that the app remains a risk-free experience for customers?
"Firstly, a mobile token is needed for user authentication and security," says Turny. "We have also incorporated online and offline transaction signing functions. "There is also a one-time password generator, which means that once logged into the device, you don't have to authenticate yourself again."
And while user security is paramount, it has not come at the expense of accessibility, adds Eizenberger.
"It's still very easy to use," he says. "Even if you want to transfer money, which requires verification, it can still be done through a maximum of three or four clicks. In this way, verification is upheld, but it doesn't make things excessively complicated for users."
The launch of the app is pencilled in for before the end of 2014. However, Turny is able to disclose that, on the back of its success at FinovateAsia, the feedback among financial institutions has already been more than positive.
Consequently, Misys can expect to consolidate its reputation for innovative, best-in-class mobile-banking solutions.
"We have been to a few conferences, and the most common feature among our clients has been 'wow'," he says. "So the reception has been really good among the banks, who have said that it is a strong product and very easy to use. When we go live before the end of this year, we are sure we will get the same feedback from the customers."