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Digitizing funding portals: Three stumbling blocks

In the course of digitization, development banks are upgrading to remain interesting for their customers: They are investing in the development of digital channels and offer comprehensive online services ranging from convenient funding advice to electronic processing of the entire lifecycle of funding applications. From the toolbox of a software developer: For new online services such as an Internet portal for customers, speaks...
Arne Schultz, Innobis
Björn Kibbel, innobis AG
March 6, 2020
Tool IStock 000051903562 M © Gresei
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This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

In the course of digitalization, development banks are upgrading in order to remain interesting for their customers: They are investing in the development of digital channels and offer comprehensive online services ranging from convenient funding advice to electronic processing of the entire life cycle of funding applications.

From the toolbox of a software developer: For new online services such as an Internet portal for customers, there is a lot to be said for opting for a ready-made software product.

The three pitfalls described below show that this approach often falls short and postpones important and necessary decisions, especially in the early phase.

1st trap: Duplicated processes or the obvious route are not necessarily the best.

At first glance, it seems tempting to capture existing analog processes in a one-to-one implementation and to structure the mapping in the internet portal accordingly. Together with the activities to be carried out, forms, documents, evidence, etc. in particular need to be transferred.

When transferring such elements 1-to-1 into a customer portal, there is a risk that technological possibilities remain unused. The result is a poorer result than in the original analog processes - despite the latest technology.

The major advantage of guided digital information recording as opposed to paper forms is the option to respond to customer input and inform them of errors and extended funding options.

This means that all constellations no longer have to be mapped and the customer no longer has to struggle through extensive and confusing applications. The entire process is streamlined. The aim of an Internet portal should be to relieve the customer of work.

This is possible if the effort required for data collection is kept to a minimum. Many funding applications require extensive information, which is also accessible via public directories (such as address registers), and certain keys (such as for sectors).

2nd trap: Lack of user experience or the worm must taste good to the fish, not the angler.

Internet portals put funding companies in direct contact with customers and partners. A significant added value of such a portal is the transfer of data entry work to the customer.

Although there is an interest in promoting online applications, the corresponding tool is often neglected. The user experience should not be overlooked, as in times of low interest rates, customers are no longer necessarily dependent on promotional loans.

Attractive interfaces are important and possibly a decisive feature compared to competitors in order to win over customers. In the long term, development banks risk, firstly, that potential customers will switch to products on the open market or forego funding altogether due to incomprehensible or overly complex application processes in a portal.

This risk increases the more the usability of a funding portal deviates from the look & feel and convenience of the market average. When designing an internet portal, it is advisable to focus on the customer's user experience, but at least on the same level as the requirements of the funding departments.

3rd trap: Overestimated hedging measures

No funding institution wants to use insecure software. Especially not when sensitive personal data is collected. According to the Federal Office for Information Security, protection requirement categories for the categories "availability", "confidentiality" and "integrity" must be defined for portal systems.

These have a serious impact on the necessary technical safeguarding measures. A realistic and critical assessment at the start of the project is advisable, as a classification should not be made lightly or across the board with "very high".

Conclusion or fall prevention: To avoid the risk of falling, you should not trip. To avoid stumbling blocks, all needs must be identified and recorded as far as possible before deciding for or against standard or individual software.

The complexity here should not be underestimated. In the specific case of a portal solution, this means taking into account not only the obvious selection criteria, but also all factors relevant to the decision. The three stumbling blocks described here provide an initial impression.

Aspects to be considered include the question of electronic identification (e.g. via an electronic ID card or a video identification service) and authorization (e.g. via digital signatures).

For the successful design of an online portal, it is therefore advisable not to make a hasty decision, i.e. not to choose software that ultimately turns out to be complex (and expensive) to customize or, in the worst case, completely unsuitable.


About innobis AG

Innobis AG has been an IT and SAP service provider for banks and financial service providers for over 25 years. The service portfolio ranges from consulting and software development to application management.

Innobis has already successfully designed and introduced several customer portal solutions for development banks, implemented the corresponding security requirements in the sensitive banking environment and is currently working on modernizing the recording options for funding applications.

About the authors:

Arne SchultzHead of Development & Integration Services at innobis AG, has been working in SAP consulting and development since 2004. In addition to providing comprehensive support for strategic customer relationships and quality assurance, he is mainly responsible for project management and architecture consulting in projects.

Björn Kibbel has been with innobis AG since 1999. As Manager Development and Integration Services, he analyzes banking business processes and the associated requirements for the IT/SAP landscape and provides architecture consulting for banks. The graduate physicist is an experienced project manager.

Both authors have been supporting funding institutions for many years in the implementation of digital strategies, particularly in the area of funding portals.

Curated by Peter M. Färbinger

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Arne Schultz, Innobis

Arne Schultz is Head of Development & Integration Services at Innobis and has been working in SAP consulting and development for eleven years.


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Björn Kibbel, innobis AG

Björn Kibbel has been working at innobis AG since 1999. As Manager Development and Integration Services, he analyzes banking business processes and the associated requirements for the IT/SAP landscape and provides architecture consulting for banks. The graduate physicist is an experienced project manager.


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