As we head into 2024, banks across the country are looking to solidify their place in the market as the dominant player to service small- and medium-sized business (SMB) accounts. Yet, as we stand today, the technology that financial institutions have embraced for acquiring small businesses lags far behind the digitally savvy competition. Things as simple as originating an SMB account online are still not offered by many institutions and banks continue to struggle to originate accounts digitally in the branch. Given the current landscape, this will require banks and credit unions to quickly make digital transformation changes to keep pace or experience a mass exodus as witnessed with retail customers moving to megabanks.
The Demand for Digital Services for SMBs Is Growing Rapidly
For years, institutions have approached digital transformation as a novelty or a nice-to-have. And the digital services they invested in were heavily skewed towards servicing retail customers. The disconnect is that many institutions assume that businesses only want in-person services and offering that was enough to win and retain these accounts. However, in the growing digital economy, this is no longer the case. Businesses of all sizes and complexities have made it clear they’re no longer looking for only in-branch services but expect the same offerings and experience as a retail customer.
In fact, digital account opening is rapidly becoming an expectation for small business owners. About 75% of SMBs want digital deposit account opening, as do nearly two-thirds of moderate-complexity SMBs, according to the consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors.
In addition, 57% of SMBs simply wouldn’t use a bank or credit union if they couldn’t open an account online.
The Gap Remains in Digital Infrastructure
SMB customers want to bank with traditional institutions, and in fact, feel safer with them rather than a neobank. So where does the gap lie? Although banks have made a concerted effort to keep pace with the growing demands of meeting retail customers’ digital needs, nearly half lack the infrastructure to offer those same services to their highest-value customers: businesses.
Banks know this. Some 53% of midsize financial institutions say their business account opening process limits their ability to grow, with 40% rating their process as “somewhat or very poor,” according to Cornerstone Advisors.
Seize the $400 Billion SMB Market Opportunity
The future is bright for the institutions that are willing to invest and meet the needs of their business customers. In fact, the SMB market now makes up a $400 billion market opportunity for banks. With more technology available today, banks can offer business customers the same digital convenience available to consumers. With a current shortage of community financial institutions stepping up to meet those demands, the market remains largely untapped.
The Key to Winning
Technology now exists to offer up the same digital services to businesses as retail customers. This includes digitized in-branch account origination, as well as a simple model with fraud protection that allows businesses to originate an account 100% online without human intervention.
Investing in digital account opening also allows banks and credit unions to acquire business accounts outside of their geographic branch network, while still building stronger banking relationships and loyalty with high-value customers.