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In-app Chat for Financial Services: BNP Paribas Wealth Management & QuickBlox

Gail M.
10 Oct 2021
In-app Chat for Financial Services: BNP Paribas Wealth Management & QuickBlox

BNP Paribas Wealth Management, a leading global financial institution, has developed a comprehensive suite of digital online-banking solutions for their clients so that they can remotely access their portfolio, view statements and reports, authorize transactions, and utilize a host of analytical tools. Such banking innovations create more ease and efficiency while also enhancing customer satisfaction. Most recently, the Wealth Management team developed an innovative chat trading platform, MyChat&Trade, to enable their clients to engage in real-time trading activities with their financial consultant.

For this banking chat-app project the Wealth Management team at BNP Paribas partnered with QuickBlox, an experienced communication platform provider, who offer feature-rich ready-to-use chat API that can be easily integrated into any banking application. In addition to needing robust chat functionality, BNP Paribas were concerned to find a partner who could meet their stringent regulatory, compliance, and security needs. QuickBlox offers a range of secure and flexible hosting options which meant that they could deploy their software within BNP Paribas’s own privately owned and on-premise servers keeping the communication channel and all customer data and chat history securely within the bank’s control.

The Move Towards Digital Banking

The banking industry is fast discovering the reality of consumer demand for easy and immediate communication as part of their on-line banking experience. Changes in user behavior means customers are no longer content waiting in line to speak with a banking representative or meeting in-person with a financial consultant; customers today expect to perform banking tasks from the comfort of their homes, but with responsive customer service on hand.

The Covid-19 pandemic simply enhanced a pre-existing trend of integrating in-app messaging and live chat into a banking communication platform. But the development of a chat app for financial services is not just about meeting customer expectations and ensuring customer satisfaction. Real-time messaging serves a valuable purpose, offering an essential means to connect people in remote places, and enabling them to conveniently share important information in a timely fashion.

The Requirement:

Easy & immediate communication

BNP Paribas Wealth Management works with a large group of clients who invest in value-fluctuating global markets, hence the need for real-time communication. The BNP Paribas team wanted to develop a solution with live chat and in-app messaging that would allow convenient and direct communication between their clientele and team of financial wealth management advisors. Advisors needed to be able to answer customer questions, relay new information, and provide timely advice, while clients needed to seek advice, receive notifications, and instruct or delay transactions. Other forms of communication, like email, lacked urgency. Through live chat, conversations could be prompt, personalized, and secure. The team wanted to create a positive customer service experience with the best banking technology to ensure ongoing customer engagement with their services.

Security & Compliance

Although there are a wide range of messaging apps already on the market the threat of interlopers accessing sensitive data means that financial institutions are obliged to follow strict security protocols. Serious security risks and compliance issues are involved if communication between clients and their financial advisors take place over popular messenger apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. But with these familiar messaging apps already easily available on people’s smartphones, coupled with the need for immediate fast communication, it’s all-too easy for customers to message their banking representative.

The team at BNP Paribas couldn’t afford to allow this to happen. As part of financial compliance all customer data and communication needed to be secure, private, and in the control and ownership of the bank. This meant the Paribas team needed to custom build their own app with chat features crafted to suit their unique use case, and to find a communication service provider who could deploy software and the associated customer data on-premise in the bank’s own data center. This was problematic as most providers tended to host software and confidential customer data within their own managed cloud.

The Solution:

QuickBlox Chat API

After considering various alternatives, the team at BNP Paribas chose to integrate QuickBlox’s powerful chat API into their application. QuickBlox has a solid history supporting communication solutions for financial institutions and understands the need for security and compliance. Their easy-to-integrate APIs and SDKs are fully scalable and offer a range of attractive chat features including file-sharing, push notifications, live chat and offline messaging, one-to-one and group chat, and the ability to save and access chat history.

Encrypted Chat

QuickBlox GDPR compliant financial solutions are specially designed to provide data protection across all devices. All chats & media files are secure as QuickBlox supports HTTPS protocol with their API, as well as Secure XMPP, Secure Bosh, and Secure WebSockets and they provide data encryption.

On-Premise Chat

Furthermore, QuickBlox offers a range of secure hosting options. They can deploy software in a dedicated cloud managed by themselves, or in their customer’s virtual cloud managed by the customer and hosted by the customer’s preferred cloud provider. QuickBlox is experienced at setting up instances on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, Alibaba, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Oracle, and is developing relationships with EU-based cloud providers including Hetzner. Alternatively, QuickBlox supports on-premise installation without connecting to outside networks. Increasingly they have been asked to support hybrid hosting models.

The Implementation:

Partnering with QuickBlox, meant that the BNP Paribas IT team had QuickBlox on hand for technical support as they integrated chat functionality into their trading app. In addition, QuickBlox worked extensively with their DevOPs team offering on-going consultancy and analysis as they helped to architect the complex deployment set-up. In addition to their main instance, which BNP Paribas wanted installed on-premise on their own servers in their data centre in Switzerland, they also intended to use AWS in Singapore to host a Dev and QA testing instance. QuickBlox worked closely with BNP Paribas’s information security team and in accordance with international banking standards to ensure appropriate measures were taken to guard against security and compliance breaches. They offered on-going assessment of their deployment model to ensure best practice and efficiency.

Because of strict security requirements, QuickBlox had limited access to configure the production instance, however, they advised on appropriate monitoring tools, supported with general troubleshooting, and provided detailed guides for debugging and 2nd and 3rd level support. In accordance with good practice, they also recommended and supported the installation of a Dev and QA / Staging environment so that BNP Paribas could install and test new features in a testing instance before they went live in the actual application.

The Outcome:

With the use of QuickBlox chatting functionality the technical team at BNP Paribas Wealth Management built an innovative secure chat-based trading platform. MyChat&Trade App facilitates financial investment activity by effortlessly connecting clients to the wealth management team for personalized and private communications.

Seamless User Experience

Their chat-based trading app includes a wealth of features for seamless communication:

  • Clients and members of the wealth management team can chat in a secure environment on the go via a mobile app on their smart phone or via a web browser.
  • Consultants can set their status to online, offline, or away, so that clients are able to see when they are available for contact.
  • The app enables both synchronic chat (live chat) and asynchronous communication (offline messaging), so that either side can message even if the other party is offline at the time.
  • Both sides have full access to their conversation history which they can review when needed.
  • Clients can instruct their consultant to buy, sell, and hold, on all products and markets, anytime and anywhere in the full confidence that such communication is fully confidential.
  • Consultants are able to send authentication requests before taking an order.
  • Consultants can add and remove participants to the chat room from a defined list of personnel.
  • Clients can receive personalized online trade notifications.

Cloud & On-Premise Deployment

QuickBlox software was successfully installed on-premise at the bank’s private servers, granting the bank exclusive control and ownership of the chat history and customer data. This ensured the integrity and privacy of the production application and protected data in a live environment. Because the Dev and QA testing instances were hosted on a cloud provider (the AWS cloud), the QuickBlox DevOps could monitor the software and provide integration support to the BNP development team and software updates for on-going maintenance. Eventually the bank re-deployed additional Dev and QA instances to their on-premise data center. Members of the QuickBlox team flew to Geneva to assist their DevOPs team with the installation, guaranteeing the highest level of security and professionalism.

Summary

MyChat&Trade App is now successfully used by the BNP Paribas Wealth Management team and their clients. Providing a convenient way for clients to contact them whenever they need, the team have understood the benefit of using mobile banking with messaging and live chat, and have created a positive communication experience. Furthermore they were able to create this innovative communication channel without compromising on security.

If you are wanting to add chat, audio, or video communication to your mobile banking app, or would like to discuss secure hosting options to ensure secure communication for your online-banking software, contact us now. We are happy to help.

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