Horváth Innovation Insights

From a Traditional Bank to a Digital Pioneer

Cantonal banks are considered reliable, but traditional. The Swiss therefore marveled when a robot in a television commercial recommended the banking app "Zak" from Bank Cler. At the beginning of 2018, the subsidiary of the Basler Kantonalbank took a big step into the future with Horváth & Partners. It implemented a new digital business model and embedded it in a coordinated partner ecosystem. The concept is convincing - Horváth & Partners wins the "Best of Consulting" Award 2019 of WirtschaftsWoche with "Zak".

Bank Cler revolutionized banking in Switzerland with its smartphone app "Zak". Instead of simply transferring classic e-banking to a smartphone, "Zak" consistently concentrates on functions that customers demand in their everyday lives.

Smart Banking: Banking made simple for customers

A single glance at the smartphone is enough for customers - not only to know how much money is available, but also to see which saving targets can be achieved. Instead of already set up, rigid subaccounts, "Zak" offers so-called "savings pots". Users can create, change or delete these themselves at any time without paying a fee. There is no need to go to the bank consultant. The administration or distribution of the sums is done by the customers themselves. Money can be shifted between savings pots with one swipe and assigned for example to certain topics, planned expenditures or family members.

But the smartphone bank is more than this: a chatbot messenger offers customers 24/7 support, but also provides answers to general questions e.g. finances and pensions. Another attractive feature is the possibility of using the app free of charge, including debit and credit cards.

The integration of services into an ecosystem of partner companies has also been completely redesigned. In a kind of digital marketplace called “Zak-Store” customers can find offers from other companies like insurance companies or online merchants.

With this comprehensive approach, Cler has generated enormous attention and successfully positioned itself as an innovative company. It courageously breaks out of the traditional business model of retail banks.

The contribution of Horváth & Partners

The success story began in February 2018 with the launch of Switzerland's first smartphone bank. Bank Cler's previous strategic directions were aimed to establish sustainable approaches beyond the usual retail banking. Thus, it positions itself as a modern financial partner, especially for young and digitally-affine customers.

Horváth & Partners supported Bank Cler in shaping its digital transformation. Among other things, the consultants designed and implemented the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) of the new banking app in an agile manner. This enabled them to credibly implement its desired position as a digital innovation leader and future-proof digital bank. After the product launch, the experts supported the saturated Swiss banking market in expanding the customer base in the targeted segments. With this holistic approach, they provided Bank Cler with comprehensive support and fulfilled their claim of being a one-stop shop for new business models.

Tried-and-tested procedure

The first decisive step was to start with the right attitude:

  • Strategy first – all that follows must agree with it. This is the only way to create a consistent and credible picture.
  • Maximum focus on customer orientation: This ensures that real customer needs are captured and that their pain points are continuously collected and used to make well-founded strategic decisions on the design of services.

Years of experience in the financial industry and numerous projects on the core topic of digital transformation have enabled the management consultants at Horváth & Partners to identify and provide the right skillset:

  • Experience in developing innovative digital products
  • Comprehensive knowledge of current industry trends and cross-industry benchmarks
  • The right team from the partner ecosystem that perfectly complements the core competencies of Horváth & Partners

In addition, speed and an agile, iterative approach were central to the process:

  • Agile approaches to accelerate digital product development, early testing and learning “on the go” (MVP) to quickly deliver real value to customers have provided the right toolkit.
  • This was the only way to test the first possible screens after four weeks and reach the MVP within three months, while staying as close to customer needs as possible.

The most important success factors of the "Zak" project

This success story stands for our ambition

By bundling our "best in class" competencies and an uncompromising focus on creating unique shopping and user experiences, we work closely with our customers to design and develop the next generation of digital products, services and business models - both in their core markets and within future focus areas. With our one-stop-shop approach, we accompany all necessary steps completely or in modules. The portfolio of our innovation services offers customers flexibility and individually adaptable combinations of services, depending on the starting point in the company. The degree of innovation and the stringent approach of the project were honored this year with the "Best of Consulting" Award. Read more about the WirtschaftsWoche competition here.

Would you like to know more? Please contact us! We offer an extensive service portfolio in the field of innovation and would be pleased to present you with further exciting case studies.