Blog      Development      Digital Onboarding: How to get and keep clients

Digital Onboarding: How to get and keep clients

Business GrowthBusiness Management

Complimentary Consultation

We will explore how you can optimise your digital solutions and software development needs.


Players in the financial sector are currently battling fierce competition. They are struggling to make an impression and leave the best first impression on customers. Why? Simple digital onboarding is a key first step to customer acquisition and retention.

The importance of digital onboarding

More traditional banks and financial institutions, such as securities dealers, are investing heavily in digital transformation. This transformation is driven not only by the pandemic situation but also by regulatory changes and the threat posed by new fintech players in the market. They also align with the “tech-savvy” customer’s demands who expect easy and instant access to the bank through multiple touchpoints.

Digital onboarding is an opportunity to make the right first impression. If a financial institution fails to do this, it could be saying goodbye to many potential customers. The facts are clear: according to a recent Deloitte survey, up to 38% of customers consider user experience as the most important factor when choosing a bank. Proper and simple onboarding is therefore critically important.

Digital onboarding is constantly changing and evolving. Customer expectations and the way their needs are met are also changing. To help you understand this process, we’ve put together a survey and a collection of facts and useful statistics.

What is digital onboarding?

To understand the whole process, let us first explain the basic concepts: 

  • Onboarding –  acquiring new customers. It results in including the customer in the institution’s customer database, thus ensuring easy and quick access to all the services and products offered by the organisation.
  • Digital onboarding – a process used mainly in the banking and financial sector to open accounts and provide financial services to clients. Typically, digital onboarding can be done online and remotely, without physical contact with the client, using any “smart “device.

Thanks to technical and security controls, companies in different sectors, including sensitive ones such as the financial sector, can incorporate new customers and users from anywhere, anytime, and through any channel. Mobile or web applications use electronic means for this purpose, such as electronic (digital) signatures, electronic ID cards, facial biometrics or customer authentication via video call.

Emphasis on the simplicity of the process

Why is the simplicity of the whole process important in onboarding? Nearly 40% of customers abandon onboarding processes on digital channels. Deloitte has found that people abort and don’t complete the process:

  • when onboarding takes too long,
  • when it requires more information than people will provide.

However, in the customer onboarding process, financial institutions must follow the rules known as KYC – Know Your Customer/Know Your Client. This standard business practice is followed by financial institutions all over the world. It is a customer identification process designed to answer these basic questions:

  • Who is your client?
  • Is he whom he claims to be?
  • Are the sources of its funds legitimate?

This process is not straightforward and requires the customer to provide a lot of information as part of the onboarding process. It is the user-friendly digital solution that influences the ratio of successfully and unsuccessfully completed client registrations. KYC is part of AML (Anti Money Laundering) measures used by financial institutions and governments to prevent and combat financial crimes, including terrorist financing and money laundering.

Did you know that people stay at their financial institution for an average of 17 years? For financial institutions, this means acquiring a new customer is of tremendous value, as every customer that signs up is likely to become a loyal account holder for years to come.

What is part of digital onboarding?

Request for onboarding

By leveraging digital channels, a financial institution can acquire more customers in less time, significantly reducing the cost of a process that can be automated. This saves institutions time, money and makes the process more secure and less error-prone. The result is, ideally, 100% “compliance” – compliance with regulations and laws. This is happening by improving the customer experience for the new client and making financial institutions more competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.

Basic data collection

Whether the customer starts the account opening process via a computer or mobile device, the financial institution should provide a simple user interface for uploading all required data and documents.

Thanks to well-designed system architecture and the logical use of the data obtained from this interface, a company never has to request the same data twice. A well-designed process also allows for the possibility of interruptions and later data completion. Native features of the mobile device are used to document personal data. Using the camera, users can easily take a picture of their ID and other documents or use the webcam to verify their identity.

Client identification

After obtaining the basic data, digital onboarding will allow the next processes to continue smoothly – KYC analysis, i.e. verification and authentication of documents to determine whether the person presenting the documents is depicted on the documents. Besides the most advanced, but also the most costly solution – biometric facial recognition – other methods can be relied on for identity verification, such as:

  • video call with the operator,
  • uploading a still video containing the authenticated person and his/her identity document.

Legislative obligations

If the client of a financial institution providing investment services is onboarded, it is important from a legislative viewpoint to know not only the client’s expectations related to the investment itself, but also his overall financial situation and, where applicable, his education. For example, the State also ‘supervises’ the customer through an investment questionnaire – it regulates the portfolio of products offered to the customer by the financial institution. The investment questionnaire is a standard part of the onboarding processes of, for example, securities traders.

Different types of financial institutions are subject to different regulatory requirements, reflected in different questionnaires. However, the result of each questionnaire is a determinant of the product offering that an institution can come up with after onboarding.

Marketing intermediate step

In this step, the institution has room for collecting additional information (interests, consumer behaviour, service objective for the customer, etc.). Based on this information, the institution can demonstrate its services (teaser), such as predicting the investment curve.

Benefits of digital onboarding

Quick login

What used to take an average of three weeks can now be done in three minutes. By integrating digital onboarding, a bank can register a person with all the necessary requirements and additional documentation they may require for their own needs.

Easy to use

Digital onboarding can be done by anyone with an electronic device with internet access and, ideally, an integrated camera or webcam.

Contactless system

In times of pandemics and various anti-epidemic measures, attracting new customers is also a challenge for the financial sector. The combination of sophisticated technologies such as the aforementioned facial biometrics or virtual ID card validation increases the security of the onboarding process and meets legislative requirements.

Thanks to these technologies, the customer saves a trip to the bank, needs not stand in a long queue, and can do all the steps from the comfort of home. Automation, such as extracting personal information from a customer’s ID card to automatically fill out the rest of their form, saves customers time, leading to higher satisfaction and a higher likelihood of conversion – successful completion of onboarding.

Real-time efficiency

Security measures, verification of the biometric facial pattern and the life existence of persons are carried out in real time (within a few seconds at most).

An exponential increase in conversion of new customers

According to the study, the conversion rate increases by over 60%. We consider the improvement in user experience, the positive reviews offered and the subsequent recommendation.

Using digital onboarding in the financial sector

Digital transformation is affecting businesses in every sector. Thanks to new technologies and the rise of security threats, traditional business models and processes are changing rapidly. Therefore, the financial sector is looking to capture and leverage each wave of digital change, which includes digital onboarding. Which companies stand to benefit the most from this?

  1. Securities dealers (OCPs) as providers of investment services – e.g. for identity verification, completion of an investment questionnaire and an overall client assessment.
  2. Financial institutions – banks, insurance companies or pension funds.
  3. Management companies – providers of mutual funds.
  4. Fintech companies – e.g. operators of mobile apps providing financial services.

Dreams of a better customer experience in the financial sector

For marketers, onboarding remains an often complicated and time-consuming process. Such insight seriously affects conversion rates and client acquisition costs. Manual processes, paperwork, the need to visit the branch to complete processes launched online, waiting for approvals and passing information through systems all contribute to delays, inconvenience, and increased risk of onboarding interruption by the prospective client.

Many financial institutions miss the opportunity presented by implementing digital onboarding. They overwhelm potential customers with bulk data requests and lengthy waits. Consumers have to repeatedly enter information, and employees have to enter data into other systems manually. Unnecessary repetition leads to wasted human resources and time for the new customer but also for internal staff.

Nor does the fact that banking is a highly regulated industry excuse a bad customer experience. The rules are strict, and documents are often required to be signed in person or sent by post. Further approval is awaited before any proceeding.

However, the acceptance of e-signatures across private and public institutions is soaring, and regulators worldwide are shifting rules to suit the new digital era. According to Eurostat, more than half of Europeans have switched to digital banking.

Up to 38% of customers consider user experience as the most important factor when choosing a bank.

How to have a successful digital onboarding?

For banking and other financial industries, customer needs evolve with each new generation. Customers today demand convenience and speed. They have less time and less interest in building personal relationships for standard banking products and services. So the ideal onboarding experience should be:

  • Fast – the whole process only needs to take a few minutes.
  • Digital – no need to visit a branch.
  • Multi-channel – can be done on mobile, tablet or laptop.
  • Paperless – no paper forms or contracts to sign.

At least 26% of customers feel that ease of registration and login is the most important criterion on which they base their choice of financial institution.

Transform paperwork into an opportunity for digital interaction

Paperwork can be transformed into agile digital journeys created to improve interaction and drive revenue growth.

Make digital transformation of the customer experience the No. 1 priority

Digital media is becoming the main communication channel with customers. Therefore, banks and financial institutions must change the way they look at digital media and prioritise improving the customer experience over other aspects.

Use data for personalisation

Customer experience transformation depends on seamless multi-channel experiences. Don’t ask for information from a client that they have already provided to your institution at some point. Ensuring two-way integration between the front-end customer interface and back-office systems can help a bank achieve a high level of personalisation in the process.

Let the customer lead, not the technology

Your customers are not interested in new elegant technological solutions implemented in back-office systems. Customers demand a great user experience and the ability to easily and quickly request banking products.

In conclusion

More financial institutions, financial service providers or asset management companies are digitally verifying customer identities and creating accounts in real-time. With an increasing number of transactions on digital channels being heavily driven by smart devices, and equally in an era of global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to securely and accurately prove identity is more important today than ever before.

Banks, financial institutions, and fintechs must also remember to balance security and user experience, which are closely linked to customer satisfaction. Digital banking – and the registration process in particular – will remain a hot topic in the coming years.

Leave a Comment

Why you can trust Altamira

At Altamira, trust is built on expertise. We deliver content that addresses our industry's core challenges because we understand them deeply. We aim to provide you with relevant insights and knowledge that go beyond the surface, empowering you to overcome obstacles and achieve impactful results. Apart from the insights, tips, and expert overviews, we are committed to becoming your reliable tech partner, putting transparency, IT expertise, and Agile-driven approach first.

Sign up for the latest Altamira news
Latest Articles

Looking forward to your message!

  • Our experts will get back to you within 24h for free consultation.
  • All information provided is kept confidential and under NDA.