Driving the Digital Revolution: How Citizens, Frost, KeyBank & Wells Fargo Are Transforming Financial Technology To Better Serve Customers

Driven by consumer demand and a desire to provide the best banking experience available – whether at a branch or on an app – the banking industry is in the midst of a dramatic digital transformation. In this third edition of Driving the Digital Revolution – CBA is highlighting recent initiatives from Citizens Bank, Frost Bank, KeyBank and Wells Fargo designed to enhance their digital offerings and bring banking into the future for American families and small businesses.

Citizens Bank

In the highly competitive financial services landscape, banks of all sizes are now directly competing not just with each other, but also with fintechs and established technology companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon. Recognizing the need to become more agile amidst this increased competition, Citizens announced a shift towards becoming a national, digital bank in 2018, leveraging new technology to reach customers outside of legacy markets.

The following year, the bank made a $50 million commitment to overhaul legacy systems and begin a true digital transformation. Since that time, new initiatives have focused on improving the user experience with mobile banking products, to leveraging artificial intelligence, automation, cloud computing and machine learning – all to create the next generation of banking services that Citizens will offer.

According to John Woods, Citizens’ vice chairman and chief financial officer, these investments paid off during the recent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), enabling the bank to process 50,000 applications and originate $5 million in loans online:

“We learned that our capability extends far beyond what we even thought was possible. We had the tools, but it was necessity that was the mother of innovation.”

John Woods, Vice Chairman and CFO, Citizens

Notably, the bank has made clear it does not view fintechs simply as competitors, but as partners. In fact, Citizens now maintains some 20 strategic partnerships with leading fintechs who help supply the technology and infrastructure necessary to develop the digital financial tools of the future.

Frost Bank

Established more than 150 years ago, San Antonio-based Frost Bank has weathered recessions, depressions, wars, and now – two global pandemics. More recently, the bank has grown organically, nearly doubling its assets to over $50 billion today.

Amidst this expansion, Frost has focused on maintaining the personal touch their customers have come to expect, continuing to develop the next generation of digital tools based on customer feedback. Some of their more recently unveiled technology investments have enhanced the Frost mobile app, including the addition of a dark theme, known caller notifications, and biometric login, providing customers with the greater levels of convenience and security they asked for.

Last fall, Frost announced a new partnership with the cloud computing firm, Blend, to drive efficiency and simplify processes in its mortgage, consumer banking, and deposits business lines. Previously, Frost partnered with Blend on home equity loans and lines of credit, all part of its quest to further the bank’s digital transformation strategy and deliver a seamless customer experience.


Upon assuming the role of CEO at KeyBank, a top-20 financial institution headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Chris Gorman has made digital transformation a top priority. As a leading regional bank, Key competes directly with the largest banks in the country as well as with fintechs. Commenting on how mid-sized banks like Key can deliver top-notch digital experiences, Gorman recently said:

“I see Key as a digitally progressive bank, not just a regional bank. One of the reasons we’re so able to do that is because we’re focused on just certain sectors. We’re not trying to be everything to everyone, but for those clients we are focused on, we’re trying to be really important to them, and to be digitally out in front.”

Chris Gorman, CEO, KeyBank

KeyBank’s annual technology investments now top $800 billion, helping to enhance the user experience for those customers seeking to apply for a higher education loan or simply depositing a check. Available through the bank’s updated mobile app, customers can access the Key Financial Wellness Review, allowing them to build a personalized savings plan with the input of a KeyBank advisor.

Wells Fargo

As one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, Wells Fargo annually spends more than $8 billion on technology, featuring a team of 40,000 employees dedicated to help ensure the bank remains at the forefront of innovation. Last fall, Wells Fargo announced a totally rebuilt mobile banking experience, highlighted by the introduction of the bank’s all-new virtual assistant — Fargo. The artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant provides personalized insights and recommendations to help the bank’s 27 million active mobile customers better manage their finances.

These new features were introduced as part of Wells Fargo’s new digital infrastructure strategy, combining a multi-cloud approach with third-party data centers to reimagine products, services, and processes from the ground up.Commenting on the significance and sheer scale of the plan, which is being executed through new strategic partnerships with Microsoft and Google, Saul Van Beurden, Head of Technology at Wells Fargo recently said:

“The Wells Fargo of tomorrow will be digital-first and offer easier-to-use products and services, and all of that starts with driving speed, scalability, and enhanced user experience through [our] next generation digital infrastructure strategy.”

Saul Van Beurden, Head of Technology, Wells Fargo

About CBA’s Digital Channels Committee

As one of fourteen standing committees within the enterprise, CBA’s Digital Channels Committee focuses on digital banking and related issues to enhance the customer banking experience and increase user engagement. The Committee provides a forum to discuss challenges and opportunities for digital banking, as well as insights to assist our members as they adapt to the rapidly growing multichannel bank environment, including digital’s role in physical channels.

The Committee’s goals are to:

  • Provide thought leadership and highlight best practices in digital channels for banks;
  • Share insight and guidance on the digital payments ecosystem;
  • Provide a vital forum to discuss banks’ digital evolution and look ahead to additional growth and transformation; and
  • Generate original research and plan compelling CBA LIVE programming on digital banking topics – expanding participation and engagement.

To learn more about CBA’s Digital Channels Committee, click HERE.

Click HERE to read more from CBA’s Driving the Digital Revolution Series