Digital Customer Onboarding in Banking

Today’s banks are functioning in an unseen and complex environment, where customers experience and relations with the banks are being defied and redefined continuously. Banks are increasingly identifying the need to be proactive in the digital banking era. In this ever changing landscape the focus is increasing on the way customers interact, acknowledging their interaction ecosystem, making banking more personalized and engaging. The need to push the boundaries of digital innovation is making the banks invest more technological wisdom to stay ahead in the curve. The need for banks to increasing capitalize on technological disruption brought about by digitalization is proving to be the key for sustainable advantage.

One of the most important stages of the customer relationship with the bank begins during the onboarding stage. This process therefore needs to provide customers with easy and painless integration with the bank core systems. During the onboarding process the customer establishes the relationship with the bank and provides all the information as necessary, verification of the provided information is often time consuming and labor intensive task making the experience unpleasant for the customer. While all banks claim to be Omni channel, many of the banks redirect the customer to the nearest branch giving them the brick and motor experience. Only a few banks have been able to successfully harness the power of multiple channels of account opening.

Traditional Customer Onboarding

The traditional way of opening was not only painful but dreaded upon to say the least. All that Omni channel banking did was to redirect the customer to the branch where all the paper works and data entry began. While every customers onboarding journey is different, few pain points have unanimously risen above the rest. The need to provide physical proof of identification, answering the same question multiple times, long and unknown delays in the verification process, unsatisfactory rework mechanism.

The instant the onboarding process is revolutionized, the banking industry will become more competitive, as it becomes easy for the customers to switch. This could prove as a catalyst for improving customer experience across all functions of the bank including financial products and services.

Why to go Digital?

Remember setting up your social media account, no because you were searching for friends to add and joining communities within minutes of setting up your account. The account setup was merely a formality, one which looks a little over a minute. Banks need to fundamentally change their mentality when it comes to designing the onboarding processes in the digital times. It is always about the customer and the process efficiency. By applying truly customer-centric solutions along with quick turnaround times, accelerated prototyping and frequent customer testing, a process can be made as easy as possible for the customer, reducing the effort required by them to sign up. Many Indian banks have already started moving to the customer self-onboarding system where the customer can download the bank app from the playstore and just by providing few basic information start enjoying the products of the bank. The shortened and seamless processes are empowering the customers to explore more about the products and services offered by the bank as opposed to the traditional model where the inefficient and time consuming process would keep the customers away from the bank.

Other trends include phased or staggered onboarding, where customers can part-complete the process in return for partial account functionality. For example, few Indian banks allow you to partially onboard yourself with limited banking functionalities. Once the banks relationship executive completes the full eKYC by enabling biometric based Aadhar verification, you can use the full account functionality. This is an approach that banks should consider, enabling partial functionality in return for partial completion of the onboarding process and only allowing full access when the full process is completed.

What is hindering the banks?

Stringent regulatory compliance, issues significantly hamper the progress in the short and medium term. But in digital world the pace with which these process can be complete highlight that despite popular notions digitalization of customer onboarding is a retail banking innovation.

In Decimals views the key factors holding the traditions banks back are their complex legacy systems and technologies. The impressive front end the enables seamless customer experience falls flat as soon as the interaction with the legacy systems begin. One way to overcome this is by building new customer bases away from the core banking platforms. Many banks are experimenting with new age technology to build platform on a scalable ‘pay as you grow’ model. Banks can learn a lot by observing how digital concepts can help develop such platforms from nothing.

Secondly, a major barrier to transforming the customer onboarding process is the conventional mindset, the pursuit of profit over process efficiency and customer experience has emerged has a major hindrance to going digital. Decimal has been engaging with banking clients, consulting and supporting them to design onboarding process using design thinking and accelerated prototyping – the results have been transformational. Designing processes around the customer requires massive shift from traditional mindset. This is the frame of mind that banks should be moving forward with.


The banking industry has already experienced a demographic shift in their cliental base. The advent of newer technology has aided to bring some order to the huge amount of unstructured data. The advent of newer payments infrastructure and more importantly the digital identity of the customer will make life easier not only for the customer but also for the banks in this new digital era of banking. In the long run digital disruption will create winners in those who vision enabled with the technology driven digital strategy and keen interest in innovating work flows for the customer.