Ease of use is the top priority in attracting and keeping mobile banking users

In our most recent UK consumer research we found signs of a highly active market in opening new bank accounts:

  • 44% of people who currently have a bank account have opened their current account (or a new one) within the last five years

  • In younger age groups up to 32% of people have opened more than one new account in the last five years

  • 62% of people would consider opening another bank account in the next three years

The new accounts that people are opening are increasingly with challenger banks such as Starling Bank and Monzo, or bank-like services such as Revolut and Loot. 14% of our survey respondents have accounts with at least one of these new brands.

Looking beyond the colourful debit card

Signing up as a customer of one of these challengers gets you a colourful bank card: Monzo, Starling, and Tandem all have distinctive designs that catch people’s eye and help fuel the viral marketing effect. If day-glo cards aren’t your thing, you can get other design touches like the card being portrait oriented with no embossed numbers (Starling), transparent (N26), or made of metal (N26 again and Revolut in their premium services). These are clearly designed to fuel word-of-mouth brand awareness and show how savvy these newcomers are about their consumer strategy.

But is a fashion statement for your wallet all that attracts people to open new current accounts? We explored this in our recent (November 2018) consumer research, asking people who bank with challengers what they liked most about these mobile-only services.

When you give survey respondents a free text field it can be quite hard to sort out the signal from the random noise of hundreds of unique replies. But this time it was different, because the same theme kept coming up again and again. There was one key word being repeated a lot:


Here are some of the words people used to tell us what they love about their challenger accounts:

  • Easy to sign up
  • Easy login
  • Easy to check my balance any time
  • Easy to manage my money
  • Lock my card easily if I lost it
  • Incredibly easy, no hassle
  • Easy to see how much I’ve spent
  • Easier to control my spending
  • Sending money more easily
  • The easiest bank account I’ve ever used

Our survey also looked at lists of varied mobile banking features and benefits which attract different people to try out new accounts, but the consistency and widespread repetition about ease of use strikes us as a fantastic universal basis on which to judge the CX of modern banking services.

If people say your service is easy, then you’re winning.

When designing and evaluating banking customer experience, “easy” is of course far from a simple goal: it’s actually a stretch goal far beyond “minimum viable”.

For a customer to praise your app as easy means that it’s succeeded in being intuitive, controllable, responsive, fast, seamless, stable and … that sense of “it just works”.

Flip it the other way round, and no matter how cool the features and how great the bank account, if the customer experiences your app as slow, buggy, janky, unreliable, inconsistent, confusing, or frustrating… then your design job is not finished. Unfortunately this “unfinished state” describes a lot of the legacy first-wave online banking that customers of high street banks are still stuck with.

When you look at the differences between the implementation of mobile banking by customer-centric banking challengers, versus bank-centric high street brands, frequently the main differences are in the details of how polished the user experience is. Anything less than completely smooth and people’s patience runs out.

Users are nervous about apps and nervous about their money

Since people often approach unfamiliar digital apps and interfaces with some trepidation, and banking as a job-to-be-done is not exactly everyone’s favourite part of the day, nerves fray quickly when things don’t seem easy.

When designing and running a digital banking service, this means you don’t really have much goodwill to burn with your main customer base. Careful, devil-in-the details design and large amounts of testing are crucial.

When developing or updating digital banking workflows, your “test passed” is not just “did it work?” but also “do real users find it easy?”.

When established banks and financial services start asking that question “is it easy?”, it means they align all their expertise – whether design, development, QA, security, ops, or customer service – in the right direction: customer centricity.

Aiming for ultimate ease of use sounds simple but it’s the key strategy that will lead established financial brands back into the banking transformation race… and it’s a race that’s currently being led mostly by new, lesser resourced challengers who are just doing a better job of making people’s lives easier one tap at a time.

The world’s leading financial brands partner with CREALOGIX to replace, upgrade, or augment their customer-facing digital services. For information and to enquire about our retail banking solutions, visit: https://crealogix.com/uk/sectors/retail-banking/

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