Dear Bankers: Mobile Customers On-Hold

Americans travel, shop and conduct business on their smartphones. Banking? Meh.

The other day I opened my bank’s mobile app to deposit a check. I love this feature as it saves me from having to make an unnecessary trip to the actual bank. This time, however, the app rejected my deposit, again and again. The fine print I had failed to notice prior to the deposit attempt clearly pointed out my mistake — deposits over the amount of $2,500 must be made in the branch, or at an ATM — foiled!

I left home for the bank’s branch in a bad mood, frustrated with the app and the bank itself. My banking behaviors did not change as a result of the experience as I still hoped for a unique and useful mobile experience. Almost every industry in the world has embraced the impact of smartphones — why not banking?

Let’s use the travel industry as an example. I can now book and check in for my flight, reserve a hotel, order a ride to the airport via Uber, pre-order a coffee at the terminal via the Starbucks app, and pay for it all without ever having to whip out my wallet. That type of holistic customer experience is something the banking industry should strive to mirror.

The problem with the industry’s approach to mobile, however, is not related to effort. There are tons of banking related consumer apps and fintech startups working hard to improve the banking customer experience. Rather, it is a problem all-too-common in the banking industry: not understanding the needs of customers. As a result, many of those apps misfire. Where startups and established players in the travel industry have worked to improve the lives of its users by studying user behavior data, the banking industry seems a bit deaf to its customer wants and needs. My example is just one of the many UX bugs in my bank’s app that make me, as a customer, less efficient and unhappy. It is high time for a change.

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Richard Paxton

CEO of the Alacer Group. Sharing the latest news in financial crimes and best practices that enable financial institutions to prevent money laundering.

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