SmartApprove app: By users, for users

SmartApprove app: By users, for users

Requested by customers, MCB’s payment web app was extensively tested on clients every step of the way.

It wasn’t so long ago that some people feared that digitalisation would lead to dehumanisation; the argument that technology would replace humans and as a result, render all interactions cold and impersonal was a genuine concern. At MCB, when the Digital Transformation Programme was launched a couple of years ago, it was done with the promise that far from replacing the workforce, digitalisation would instead function with the staff and the customer at its very core.

Perhaps promises such as these sound formulaic and as a result, are often hard to believe. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The pudding, as it were, is called SmartApprove – a success story that ticks all the boxes – an easy to use web application available on mobile, tablet and desktop that is the delight of its users (we kid you not!), a technology that has been designed following extensive consultation with customers AND that has been tested throughout its conception, an app whose very creation stems from customer feedback.

The cherry on the cake? The staff involved in the creation of this unique payment authorisation tool, are so in awe of their baby, it’s hard to get a word in edgeways! Oh and did we say? SmartApprove was awarded the Best Adoption of Tools & Governance award of the prestigious IBSI Globa FinTech Innovation Awards, in the Payment Hub/Wholesale Payments category.

Greek to you? Let’s put it this way – before the inception of SmartApprove, the rate of clients (local and international corporates of different sizes, global businesses, trusts etc) using MCB’s Internet Banking platform was 50%. After SmartApprove was launched (following intense consultation sessions with many clients), an uptake of 20% was registered, putting the rate of IB users at 70%.

The story of SmartApprove is one that begins with a blank page. In 2018, Reena Cheeneebash and Lovin Tiagarassa Pillay, respectively Business Analyst and Product Owner are deputised by the Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB) to find a solution in payment for their clients. The mandate is purposefully vague – the CIB is not sure what exactly their clients want or need. All they know is that it was time to start digitalising the process of payment for corporates and global businesses.

Reena and Lovin as well as other members of the squad put together by the Digital Factory to work on the solution, went on a fact-finding mission by asking clients about their pain points concerning the IB platform. The take-away was two-fold (mostly) – clients needed more flexibility with regards to international payments in foreign currency. They also needed a faster and more flexible way of authorising payments – bulk or otherwise.

In February this year, just weeks before Mauritius went under lockdown, the SmartApprove app was launched (together with the Payment Enhancement Journey that now enables same day foreign currency transfers). The app was tested on clients every step of the way and this process enabled its makers to edit and modify functionalities according to client feedback.

Reena and Lovin say it was their very first experience with involving clients in product testing as they develop a solution and that the initiative was priceless. “We have, in the past, come up with a product we thought the client needed when in reality, it wasn’t the case”, they say, adding that what they had learnt was that the customer was looking for simplicity and efficiency in the processes.

And while, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, simplicity and efficiency can, and does, easily get lost as a matter of course when processes aren’t automated. What technology brings in this instance is that it frees up the staff from mundane tasks so that they can be part of a creative process, together with those they seek to serve.