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From online banking to open banking: those insights that change history

From online banking to open banking: those insights that change history
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16 Apr 21
Doris Messina

Head of Digital Transformation Banca Sella

It was 1995-1996 when Banca Sella was one of the first Italian banks to launch its website on the internet: the current "". A website, today, is something normal, but at the time, especially for a bank, it was not at all. So began what in all respects would have turned into a real revolution: the digital disruption, which is still underway.

In the following years, Banca Sella's innovations followed one another quickly and uninterruptedly, marking an era. In 1997 the real-time internet banking service, however only informative, and the participation in the first European e-commerce program took place. The following year Sella launched the home banking service, this time enacting (bank transfers and giros) and the Winconto: the first Italian online current account.

Here come the smartphones
Ten years later, in 2008, another breakthrough: the first Italian iPhone app to access and operate on your current account directly from your smartphone. Then how the story went is well known: today, "accessing" the bank, at any time, from your computer, tablet or smartphone, is so common that it is even difficult to remember (for those who were there) or to imagine (for digital natives) what it was like when this was not possible.

An action that the unexpected events resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are further fostering. According to a recent study by Boston Consulting, more than half of Italians (51%) declare that they boosted their relationship with their reference bank using the online channel and an even greater number (54%) extended their use of the mobile channel. Moreover, purchases and payments are going increasingly digital, online and by smartphones.

According to a report by the Abi Lab Digital Banking Observatory, this trend was already visible before the pandemic, with an improvement in the number of active mobile-only customers by 35% in 2019, compared to 2018. The study also shows that the gap between using internet banking and mobile banking is becoming increasingly narrow. So much so that for 32% of the reported banks, the number of active mobile customers exceeded that of PC active customers.

The open banking era
Today we are facing a new turning point: open banking. Still confirmed by AbiLab data, for almost all Italian banks (92% of those in the report), the budget allocated to investments in technological innovation for 2021 is stable or higher when compared to 2020, ratifying its strategic importance for the development of increasingly efficient services to effectively meeting customer needs.

Among investment priorities, of course, are those aimed at the development and enhancement of mobile banking services, a strong focus on effective data management (data governance) and the further strengthening of security. However, research and development have a new focus that we can no longer ignore, namely open banking and all the applications that the Psd2 Directive and the use of the API (Application Programming Interface) made possible, thanks to the openness and collaboration also among banks, fintech companies and new players in the financial market.

A new "revolution" that once again saw Sella moving ahead of times thanks to its Sellalab innovation centre and the Fintech District of Milan, to the first open banking platform developed in Italy, making Banca Sella a bank with products and services conceived from an "open" perspective. A bank that is always in the wake of responding to the needs of its customers by developing intuitions and innovations, which changed the course of history.

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