News & Highlights

German savings banks’ central provider SFP harnesses VMware Tanzu Labs to unify stand-alone real estate solutions and give a welcome facelift to its portal

The coronavirus pandemic has turned normal life on its head. It also seems to have been a wake-up call for the traditional banks. A major transition is playing out before the eyes of the entire industry: Fintechs have shifted into the fast lane, winning over customers with fast, efficient, customer-centric service. But where does that leave the finance industry’s venerable incumbents?

A widespread local presence and deep roots in the community have given Germany’s “Sparkasse” savings banks a high standing ever since they were founded nearly 200 years ago. Tradition breeds trust. In this day and age, however, it also takes innovative technology to fight off the competition and maintain a competitive edge.

The SFP (Sparkassen-Finanzportal) is now proving that tradition and innovation can indeed go hand in hand. SFP is the central provider for all communication and digital services in the savings bank group. It manages the Sparkasse.de and Real Estate portals, but also develops modern products to foster a digital brand experience across the savings banks and their associations and network partners. Integrated solutions in the space near to and beyond the group’s core banking services are likewise part of the 360-degree service provider’s remit. Examples include the integration of chatbots and digitalization of the construction financing process.

Decentralized but unified – thanks to VMware Tanzu Labs

The distributed structure of the savings banks group is a huge benefit in terms of on-the-ground presence. When it comes to the nationwide roll-out of digital innovations, however, the benefit suddenly becomes a challenge. “Made up of individual pieces, this system worked well but not perfectly,” says Oliver Hepfner, Managing Director of SFP. “So we wanted to go a step further and logically tie up all the loose ends – especially in order to efficiently improve the customer journey.”

Building on VMware Tanzu™ Labs, SFP used an innovative, customer-centric approach to quickly pool the group’s insular solutions and thoroughly modernized its real estate portal. Decades of expertise were thus dovetailed with perfect, modern tools: Thanks to the environment and guidance made available by VMware Tanzu Labs, SFP got the enhanced portal to market in just ten weeks.

The customer journey at its best

The result? A customer-centric journey through the portal. Today, many prospective customers are guided straight to the real estate portal. The savings banks can then target customers with tailor-made offerings at just the right time. SFP customers clearly reap the benefit of much greater customer intimacy. As Hepfner says: “VMware Tanzu Labs makes it so much simpler for us to generate good, lasting leads!”

Bringing together so many insular solutions has helped the SFP team acquire new skills and development expertise. That accelerates the innovation cycle and gets new products to market faster, which in turn strengthens the brand, boosts revenue and prevents customer churn.

Hepfner is looking forward to continuing this successful partnership: “Supported by VMware Tanzu Labs and, in the future, the whole Tanzu portfolio, we believe we are well equipped to develop customer-oriented apps. That will keep the savings bank brand in the forefront of digital banking, while we remain a driver of innovation throughout the savings bank organization.”

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