Interview with Kirstin Hütz, Head of Digital Capabilities, Barclays Bank Ireland PLC Hamburg Branch

New payment services and open banking offer banks many opportunities to simplify banking for their customers and integrate it better into their everyday lives. Kirstin Hütz heads the digital division of the German branch of Barclays Bank in Hamburg and explains in advance of how the company is shaping change.


Editor: Ms. Hütz, what has changed for you as Barclays Bank as a result of the appearance of new players in the financial sector?

Kirstin Hütz: Above all, customer expectations have changed. If you think of the millennials, or of Generation Z, which grew up mobile: here a completely different kind of convenience, individualisation and customer interaction is expected than before.

Editor: What does this mean for banks?

Kirstin Hütz: The market is in an exciting phase of change. New technologies, open banking and the changes in the payment landscape by new players offer new opportunities to make customer relations more intensive and direct. Greater permeability is developing between industries and new use cases and services are emerging. In order to take advantage of these market dynamics and create new valuable services for users, the way in which banks develop new services is changing.

Editor: What does that look like in your company?

Kirstin Hütz: "Right from the start and throughout the entire development process, we focus on the needs of customers and potential target groups. In our agile design sprints, we merge different methods from design thinking to develop solutions that advance and accompany our customers in their daily lives. In order to gain a deep understanding of the user's needs and motives, the user sits at the table during the development of the solutions. The perspective is changing from classic product development to user-centric development of solutions. The focus is no longer on a pre-defined product, but on the question of what the customer wants to do, what his needs are and how we can satisfy them. This is for example a transaction can make, take out a loan, pay at the POS ... Behind it stand very elementary needs, such as for example: I want to fulfill a wish, be able to consume, have control over my finances, or feel financial security at all.

Editorial team: How does Open Banking further develop customer proximity?

Kirstin Hütz: "The developments on the market and new digital touchpoints have brought us closer to our customers. There are more options to interact directly and immediately and receive feedback.
Since we have always been on the German market as an Online Pure Player, this is correspondingly in our DNA, combined with well-rehearsed processes and resources. Another direct possibility for the whole house is the monthly "User Feedback Coffee". We invite customers to talk to our colleagues, discuss ideas and ask for feedback and opinions. My personal impression is that customer proximity is continuously intensifying.

Editing: How customers are selected: How do you define which people are added?

Kirstin Hütz: Depending on the question, we consider which target group we would like to talk to. Usually it is a mix of demographic factors, experience with similar financial products, or special interests. Since we are always dealing with different people, we get a good basis to know the needs of our customers over the course of time. The results are often quoted in-house, they are simply authentic.

Editor: To what extent do the working methods at Barclays Bank differ from the eCommerce in which you previously worked?

Kirstin Hütz: Both industries have more in common than it seems at first glance. In both cases, the aim is to provide customers with special moments of success when using their own services or products and to strengthen customer loyalty. For both industries, the way to achieve this is via an excellent user experience across all touchpoints. The working methods and best practices of the two industries are therefore essentially the same. A major difference, of course, is the higher degree of complexity in the payments area. This is both a challenge and an opportunity, and a good opportunity to stand out clearly from the competition. Due to the close international cooperation within the group, we naturally have the opportunity to learn from the developments in other markets (UK, USA) and to give new innovative impulses. It is particularly clear that from the customer's perspective the areas of payments and eCommerce are increasingly merging with each other.