Truist Financial Corporation has a unique digital strategy – digital straddle:
The Charlotte, North Carolina headquartered Truist Financial Corporation had formulated a digital strategy – and called it ‘digital straddle’ – that enabled it to design and develop an entirely new digital platform that could cater to some 10 million customers and have an absolutely new backend as well. The bank that came into being after a merger of Branch Banking and Trust Co (BB & T) and Sun Trust Banks in 2019, actually undertook the transformation in an incremental manner, introducing its customers to a new digital experience in a phased manner and then merging and modernizing the backend systems. The merger had created the 7th largest bank in the US with some 4 million mobile app users, with most of the products delivered through digital app and with total assets of $541 billion and 15 million clients across 17 states and the District of Columbia. Naturally, the bank wanted to have a platform that helped it to be agile and which is scalable, secure. The ‘digital straddle’ in the strategy, in fact, is the API layer that sits on top of the legacy infrastructure that belonged to the erstwhile banks and this in fact allowed it to create a single common user experience layer and user experience API that ultimately sits on top of both heritage backend systems.
The bank offers consumer and commercial banking, securities brokerage, asset management, mortgage and insurance products and services.
INTELLIGENT DIGITAL ATTENDANT
The bank has an intelligent digital attendant, which it calls Truist Assist. What is unique about Truist Assist is that it has created a seamless, real-time integration between the new chatbot and the bank’s contact center staff. The self-service channel embeds the contact centers as part of the experience, providing clients with a frictionless transition from their virtual assistant to a Truist teammate when their request warrants a deeper level of support.
The bank believes that this integration is a key facet and describes it as ‘Technology plus Touch equals Trust’. This ‘touch and tech bridge’ helps eliminate customer frustration and makes for a better interaction for employees as well.
Truist Assist leverages Amazon Web Services specifically Amazon Lex, AWS’s conversational AI platform, on the back end but it is essentially a custom-built solution. Using the agile development process, which simultaneously engages product, engineering and design teams, it rolled out Truist Assist in about a year. The bank uses natural language processing and natural language understanding to help answer customers’ questions and provide information. Currently, it is text-based and is available to retail and wealth customers of the bank.
DATA GOVERNANCE PLATFORM
Truist Bank has recently acquired a data governance platform to enhance its technological offering, in particular its AI/ML programs. It is Arena from data technology company Zaloni and it provides services including data governance, metadata management, advanced analytics, and AI/ML programs.
Truist Bank believes it is on a mission to change the way banking is done. For this, it understands that a cloud platform is truly essential. It is now using a patent-pending cloud technology it created that gives customers of both of the pre-merger banks a common experience while the legacy systems are consolidated. It has sought the services of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google to help it in this process. It has most of its workloads running on AWS while Microsoft cloud platform is used in the insurance space and Google’s Apigee platform in open banking.
INNOVATION, TECH CENTER
The bank has in June 2022 set up an Innovation and Technology Center to serve as a factory of sorts with a cross-functional team approach to developing new products, services and digital experiences for customers with their involvement. While the center will have a physical presence, its processes will be digital with a dedicated application development environment and resources including databases and cloud-based software tools that will be available to teams across the company.
The 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility has client journey rooms, a research lab and collaboration hubs where agile teams of innovators, product managers, engineers and designers will work with clients to build a better banking experience. The bank describes it as a unique space that brings together direct client input with some of the best and brightest talent in the industry to build an innovative ecosystem that will propel Truist into the future.
The bank has in late 2022 acquired Long Game, a fintech startup that had raised over $20 million in venture capital. Long Game notably has a gamified finance mobile app that aims to help people ‘save, learn and engage’ with their finances. It is targeted more to Gen Zers and millennials and this focus is being used by Truist Bank to reach a coveted and difficult-to-reach younger demographic. The aim is to integrate Truist’s app with the Long Game experience. It will soon relaunch an enhanced version of the app making it available to over 15 million households.
As the bank focuses more on digital, it had already closed down several dozens of its physical branches.
This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.