Digitizing the Customer’s Journey
When she first encountered a self-service kiosk for bank loans at her local Pronto! branch in Uruguay, Gelen Gomez, a bank client since 2014, didn’t hesitate to give it a try. “I felt comfortable with it. You sit down, type in your information on the touch screen and immediately after the request goes through, they call you to the counter to speak to a cashier. The truth is that it made the process a lot easier,” Gomez says.
Pronto! is the microfinance division of Scotiabank in Uruguay. Like Gomez, Pronto! customers across Uruguay can now request a loan in just a few minutes with the touch of a finger at self-service kiosks, located at bank branches across the country. Instead of applying in person at the bank counter, a process that could take 30 minutes, the self-service kiosks approve loans within three to seven minutes for existing Scotiabank customers.
Making the loan process for customers in Uruguay faster and easier is one of the ways in which Pronto! is improving access to finance in the country. Some 60 to 70 percent of the population is underbanked1, according to Uruguay’s Statistics National Institute. In 2014, the government passed a financial inclusion law with the objective of promoting universal access to basic, affordable and high-quality financial services, and the use of digital technology plays a big part in making that happen.
The self-service kiosks were launched in January 2017, and today every branch in Uruguay has a kiosk. The kiosks use biometric recognition technology to provide a secure way to ensure the identity of customers. Customers use a touch screen to enter their national ID number and confirm basic information before requesting the loan. Once approved, the customer collects the loan from a bank cashier just minutes later.
Young people, already comfortable with digital technology, have been quick to adopt the innovation, according to Nicolás Balparda, Project and Design Manager at Pronto! Older customers occasionally need a bank employee’s assistance to be guided through the process.
“We made sure it was intuitive for clients so it’s easy to use,” says Gonzalo Maqueira, a programmer at Pronto! who was part of the design team.
Customers were slow at first to use the kiosks but that has changed, says Nicolás. Now loan applications through the kiosks and through online banking are on the rise, while the amount of traditional loan applications is decreasing. In 2018, over 75,000 customers interacted with Pronto!, with nearly 57,000 loans and over 4,000 credit cards disbursed. Of these customers, 61% were women. “It has helped us reach new clients,” Nicolás says. What has been most satisfying is seeing how customers appreciate the ease of the solution, he adds.
“At Pronto! we tend to teach the customer, to accompany them on a bank experience. We want the customer to go from underbanked to banked, and this type of solution tends to enrich this experience and give them what they want: a simple solution,” Nicolás says.
The aim of Pronto! is to help people with little or no access to financial services to fulfill their potential and improve their livelihoods, by providing relevant, affordable solutions, he explains. Eventually, he says, the bank would like to expand the number of kiosks at each branch and to use them for customers to apply for credit cards as well. “Since the beginning, the experience has been great for clients and it highlights the company’s focus on innovation,” says Alejandra Silva, Uruguay Office Manager. “It helps make the whole experience faster.”