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Case Study: Jenius Bank, Transforming the Consumer Banking Experience

Nothing substitutes for experience. And with a rich history of over 400 years in the banking industry, Jenius Bank is sure to become an icon.  

Its history began way back in the 16th century, when the Sumitomo family took its first step into banking history in 1590. The Mitsui family followed, in 1673.  

A couple of centuries later, Manufacturers Bank opened in 1962 and in 1981, joined up with Mitsui Bank. In 2001, Sakura Bank (formerly Mitsui Bank) and Sumitomo Bank merged to form Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC Group). 

Fast forward to modern times, when Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. (SMBC) announced the launch of Jenius Bank in 2022.  

With their impressive lineage, to say they’re here for the long term is an understatement. 

Introducing new FIS Banking Technology to US Consumer Market 

Situation: to introduce a new digital bank utilizing brand new FIS technology (Modern Banking Platform) with impressive capabilities into the US consumer banking market. 

Mission:  to empower customers with a new approach to banking. This comes with many risks.  

Yet it was exciting and challenging:   

  • Built new teams, from the executive floor to customer service desks 
  • Design and implementation from the ground up of new processes, procedures, and practices 

A New Digital Bank With No Existing Culture 

Since Jenius was a new digital bank, there was no existing culture. This created an unexpected challenge that required consistent monitoring and changes. 

The structure that comes with an old bank may seem stifling at times, and I admit there were times when I wished I could blow up the old structures and start from scratch.  

With Jenius Bank my wish came true. 

But I didn’t realize how difficult it would be or how much value old bank structures brought to a project. 

The Goal: An Enterprise-Wide Quality Program 

Problem: I was asked to step in and create a user testing capability to support new product implementations.   

With no existing quality program, organization or practice, I found myself developing an enterprise-wide quality program to span the vendors’ testing, technology’s testing, and user testing. 

There were unexpected problems creating: 

  • an internal services group within a bank that didn’t even exist and for products and services not yet in the market 
  • a stable enterprise-wide practice in a highly siloed organization led by visionary executives 

Siloed Banking Executives, Narrow Visions, Oh My… 

Every strategy, agreement, practice and process were challenged by executives with narrow visions based on their silos of specific expertise and previous experiences. What should have taken just weeks took months to accomplish.  

All this was compounded by a lack of organizational accountability, pervasive misunderstandings, and assumptions. A.K.A Old Structures.  

Solution: Develop and implement a fully functional enterprise quality and testing practice. Then use this quality initiative to bring the operations and executive teams together as an enterprise.  

Additionally, the goal was to: 

  • create, negotiate and approve a Test Strategy within the first 30 days 
  • recruit and standup a centralized testing team with test tools within 90 days 
  • establish quality communication cadences, risk escalations and Go/No-Go criteria with all bank departments: risk, compliance, legal, operations, marketing, product and others, within 180 days  

Jenius Bank: A Cornerstone of Quality 

Outcome: Admittedly, this program took every ounce of my expertise, experience and patience to successfully complete.  

The quality structure I established became the first foundational cross-enterprise practice that brought the organization together – through heated arguments, passionate negotiations, and lasting agreements.  

But as they say, there is no gain without pain. 

In the end, I’m very proud of Jenius Bank for choosing quality as its cornerstone for bringing its enterprise together. It gives me great confidence it will successfully launch, bringing new and trusted experiences to consumer banking.   

Developing and leading transformational initiatives within the banking industry is the space where I thrive. If you’re ready for some serious transformation at your organization, let’s chat.  

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