Active Banking

The adoption of digital banking has made a huge difference to the way customers interact with their financial service providers.. or has it?

How has the adoption of digital banking changed the way customers interact with financial serviceproviders?

Traditional red-brick-banking was all about safe, secure deposits of wealth, stored away to borrow or keep as the bank saw fit. The buildings looked sturdy to complete the picture of the bank’s dependable strength. We took heart from this, safe in the knowledge that our money was well looked after, writes Kevin Phillips

The household names still stand strong

The high-street is still full of these stronghold buildings, in which some of these household names still reside; banks and building societies waiting for customers to turn up and transact. Ignoring the decline in their number for now, the role of the branch to support transactions has diminished as the ever busier customer has less time to spend browsing accounts and services. We either can’t or don’t want to travel to the branch any more, queue up and spend our time filling in forms and depositing cash and cheques. The alternative, telephone and internet banking has made a storming entry over the last couple of decades.

Has digital banking made a huge difference?

In fact, I argue that customers are almost no better off than they were when they had to travel to the bank. Sure, the branch has now come to us; we can browse the internet from home or access the digital channel from our mobiles, but the banking process is still the same: I need to go to the bank; the bank is still not coming to me. The fact that it is not means that I am still exposed to forgetting to pay a card bill, to missing out on great new offers and services, and to falling into the zombie account trap. Unless I do the research myself I am simply overlooked by my financial service provider who is far more motivated to spend time wooing new customers than servicing their existing clientele.

Better financial service

I want a better service than this, one that comes to me when I need it. I want my financial service to remind me when a bill is coming up, and when I need to take action to avoid a charge. I want to know when I am approaching my credit limit or when my balance is getting low. It would be great to know what options I have to prevent my savings account from dipping below a good earnings rate, and when a new product has been launched in case I wish to take advantage of it… and to let me do so immediately. I also want to know when a transfer has been completed, when my salary has hit my account, or if I am no longer on track to meet my savings target. When I take out a mortgage I don’t want to have to chase up the call centre to see what the next stage is, but I want to be kept informed as the fulfilment progresses, to be alerted to my next action and given the chance to do so without having to post lots of paperwork. I don’t want to have to log in and check for these events, I want to be fed the information as it happens. I want to have active banking, not re-active banking.

As digital consumers we are used to being kept informed, as it happens, by our social media services. We receive updates from our family and friends: what they are up to, where they are going, and how they are getting on, so why doesn’t my financial service provider?