Innovation in Banking and Payments 2020

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15 April 2020

A Snapshot Through the Lens of Model Bank


Celent Model Bank awards recognise Financial Institutions for best practices of technology usage in different areas critical to success in banking. In 2020, we had nearly 140 nominations competing for Model Bank awards. Such a number of high quality initiatives gives us an unparalleled insight into the state of the banking and payments industry — priorities, focus areas for innovation, and how they change over the years.

Of course, those initiatives were submitted to us in 2019, well before any of us had any idea that we would be in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic by the spring of 2020. We know that our clients have other priorities right now, working around the clock to keep their staff safe and support their customers as well as possible. Nevertheless, we think that current events will only accelerate many of the trends described here. We sincerely hope that best practices embedded in the initiatives described in this report will be a helpful guidance to financial institutions in the not-too-distant future.

If you only read one report on Model Bank this year, this should be it! It offers insights into what's going on in the industry based on analysis of all the nominations. It also introduces and briefly describes all award winning initiatives, so that you know which specific case studies you might want to read in depth. Finally, it gives the essential details about the Model Bank programme this year.

Best of all, this report is available to download for free for all registered users!

What You Will Learn

  • The insights on content themes that dominated Model Bank 2020 nominations.
  • Who the winners of Model Bank 2020 are and why they deserve the award.
  • What the Model Bank programme looked like in 2020.

Selected Findings

  • The overarching theme for our Innovation and Insight (I&I) Day, Celent’s flagship event and an awards ceremony delivered virtually this year, is Executing at Scale. It reflects perhaps the biggest change we observed in Model Bank nominations this year — the growth of submissions describing end-to-end transformation efforts. Increasingly, banks of all sizes realise that a “lipstick on a pig” strategy — a slick front end plastered on a creaking back end — is not a true “digital transformation.” The focus is shifting to a far more holistic transformation, encompassing the front end as well as operations and back end technology.
  • Delivering an outstanding customer experience, supported by product innovation, remains a high priority in both retail and corporate banking segments.
  • An outstanding customer experience begins with account opening and onboarding, which is increasingly becoming digital at the leading institutions. The continued growth in digital account opening nominations shows that many banks are investing in this space, a trend we only expect to accelerate in the post-COVID-19 environment. While we did not recognise any institution just for onboarding this year, digital account opening is a key feature of many award-winning initiatives.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now one of the most frequently mentioned technologies in Model Bank nominations, with a growing number of banks deploying AI to enhance customer understanding, optimise operations, and support employees.
  • ... and many more findings in the report!

Themes of Model Bank 2020

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Further Assistance

For more information on our Research and Advisory services, or to discuss a bespoke consulting engagement, please contact
Andy Renzella at (US) or Chris Williams at (International).