Degussa Bank Develops Digital Bank Shop as Cross-Industry SaaS

Interview with Axel Schardt, Head of Sales Channel Management, Product Owner Digital Twin and Arno Rackow, Press Spokesman for Degussa Bank AG

Degussa Bank AG Online Branch

As a WorksiteBank, Degussa Bank has been a pioneer in the industry for many years. With bank branches on the premises of companies, it maintains a special proximity to the working world. Now, the financial company is setting new standards at the workplace with its Digital Twin as a SaaS solution. Degussa Bank uses this specially developed IT platform to optimize and transform its own business model. In an interview with Wirtschaftsforum, press spokesman Arno Rackow, and Axel Schardt, head of sales channel management and product owner of the Digital Twin, explain the background of this idea and how business models can be transformed in the future using the example of the Digital Bank Shop.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Schardt, Mr. Rackow, what are the special features of Degussa Bank AG?

Arno Rackow: Degussa Bank was initially founded from the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheide-Anstalt (Degussa) established in 1873, originally only for employees at the corporate sites. With the sale of Degussa Bank in 2002 to ING AG and later to M.M.Warburg, worksite banking was established and expanded. The concept offers a special range of financial services for employees with traditional bank shops directly on our partner companies’ premises – but also globally with our unique Digital Bank Shops, which are accessible over the corporate network and privately via mobile devices. The employees of our physical bank branches at the locations of our partner companies are seen as colleagues. This gives them a special relationship with our customers.

Degussa Bank AG Spokesperson Arno Rackow
Arno Rackow, spokesperson for Degussa Bank AG
Degussa Bank AG Axel Schardt, Head of Sales Channel Management, Product Owner Digital Twin
Axel Schardt, Head of Sales Channel Management, Product Owner Digital Twin

Wirtschaftsforum: How did the idea for the Digital Bank Shop come about?

Axel Schardt: Basically, various aspects came together. With the introduction of MS 365/Teams, we learned to appreciate the diverse possibilities of the new 'standard' created by Microsoft and wondered how we could open the 'beautiful new internal world of communication and collaboration' to our customers as well. We were also faced with the challenge of how to transform our business model into the digital world. Due to disruptions by new competitors and changed customer behavior (also due to the pandemic), we had to close branches after a long period of growth, as customers often chose digital paths. We also wanted to contribute to the company-wide goal of a data-driven business model, improve CRM processes and related customer experiences, and at the same time reduce the purchase of leads and associated dependencies on third parties. The approach of the Digital Bank Shop brought the various thematic areas together successively. 

Arno Rackow: In addition to the technical and organizational framework, the Digital Bank Shop should stand out from our competitors: So it was not just another 'flat website' with integrated call, chat, and booking functions. The idea was to transfer the physical experience of a bank branch to the digital space with chic design, where customers and interested visitors can move intuitively and exploratively. Experts on various financial matters would be immediately available to our customers without any detours. 

Axel Schardt: Additionally, customers could use fully automated self-services, various content offerings, and a conversational-AI-driven chatbot to create a basis for future automations.
To address different target groups of different generations, a mix of self-services and personally contactable experts will be needed in the future. The physical aspect will recede into the background if we succeed in digitizing many processes. Our consultants can immensely increase their reach by participating and are flexible to work from anywhere. They report more efficient conversations. Organizationally, we were able to go to market with a Minimum Viable Product after just six months of development to gather experience. In conjunction with agile development methods, we employ state-of-the-art cloud technologies and took advantage of the 'momentum' of the pandemic, as the acceptance and use of video calls increased dramatically due to contact restrictions. With the further development of the platform and the parallel roll-out at partner companies, we now have 88 Digital Bank Shops in use.

Degussa Bank AG Digital Bank Shop
The Digital Bank Shop offers numerous potential for efficiency improvements and performance enhancements

Wirtschaftsforum: How exactly does the DBS work? 
Axel Schardt: The Digital Twin is responsive, meaning it can be accessed via smartphone, tablet, and PC/notebook. Visitors enter a virtual space in the Digital Bank Shop where they are greeted by our concierge. Navigation and interactions, such as starting a video call with a consultant, can be done via mouse, touchpad, or finger. Small status lights show the online availability of our finance experts. To start a conversation, the user just needs to click on the call icon; no software is required on their device.
In the meantime, we are able to integrate partner tenants, which means offering digital spaces in our Twin to other service and product partners for rent. This has advanced the EcoSystem concept, where our goal is to increase overall attractiveness, extend the duration and frequency of our customers' visits, and attract new prospects.  
Wirtschaftsforum: What potential do you see for the future of the platform? 
Axel Schardt: Our software has tremendous potential, not only for the banking sector but also for other industries. The Digital Bank Shop is an example of innovation in the service sector. It is just the beginning, and the room for further developments is very large due to the open and scalable technologies.   
Arno Rackow: With the Digital Bank Shop, we as a bank have initially gained a new sales channel and are able to open virtual branches at our locations within 15 minutes, almost without any costs. Also, our partner companies can rent virtual consulting offices in the Digital Bank Shop to offer their services. They benefit from this because they do not need to set up and expand their own digital shop. However, the most interesting potential of the Digital Shop is to provide the entire software architecture as 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) to other companies from various industries. The potential is therefore incredible. Contact us or discover our Digital Bank Shop first at

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