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A UX Review: Digital Banking

A UX Review: Digital Banking


The end of the high street bank

In the past two years, the UK has seen 1,000 bank branch closures.

A recent Guardian article even went so far as to say that ‘tumbleweed’ blows through those that remain — which on average now only handle 71 customers each a day. The reality is…

78% of the time that customers spend on offline banking services is wasted.

Members of the older generation may still expect to be able to go to their local branch, but millennials are dictating today’s markets. And millennials expect a bank in their pocket. Spoiled by incredible digital experiences via smartphones, TV, laptops and wearables, standards are high — they have come to expect seamless services at their fingertips.


Brand loyalty is no longer a key advantage in banking

Research reveals that for millennials, service trumps brand. Brand loyalty is no longer enough to prevent a user switching to the next best experience on offer.

We are seeing some of the larger tech savvy banks starting to experiment with service enhancing innovations. American Express and Santander, for example, are making use of chat-bots to ‘streamline their operations, automate customer support, and provide a more convenient and enjoyable customer experience’.

However, the more traditional banks, including the likes of Barclays and HSBC, don’t seem to recognise the need for an immediate adjustment of strategy. Brand loyalty continues to be at the centre of their marketing activity — with some still running large ad campaigns trying to channel into brand nostalgia (e.g. Lloyds recent ‘By your side for 250 years’ advert below)


Instead, the focus should be on creating a competitive service digitally. And trying to remove the arduous stages of opening bank accounts or transferring money that exist today. Such issues are simply leaving people frustrated and angry and highly likely to consider switching to a FinTech who can give them fast set-up, easy access and a better overall service.

Although the majority of traditional banks are now working on their digital experience, improving their websites and creating apps, many are still struggling with crucial stages of digital transformation, and the cracks are visible. Compliance issues, legacy systems, fragmentation and lack of ownership all act as major roadblocks when it comes to creating a truly innovative and customer focused digital strategy.

This substantial challenge faced by the traditional banks is presenting opportunities for market disruptors. With considerably less baggage, FinTech start-ups born out of digital, can focus on offering online experiences based entirely around customer needs, and observant of the latest behavioural trends. Several have even jumped straight into offering a purely mobile app based service — whilst successfully reducing any potential trust issues by giving full transparency in their communications and ensuring the customer feels in control.

The most successful innovators are focusing on staying one step ahead of customer expectations. They aren’t just concerning themselves with fast set-up and access, they’re developing additional features to improve the way people actually use their service and increase the level of value they can gain.

In the UK we’re seeing more and more apps which can be linked to your bank account and help you understand and manage your spending habits, help with saving and investing money (e.g. Plum — which works via Facebook messenger, and MoneyBox which rounds up your spend and invests your money). Newer digital banks are able to include such services in addition to offering current and saving accounts.

Customer preference is evident, with Capgemini and Efma’s 2016 World Retail Banking Report (WRBR) finding that ‘customers are embracing FinTechs, with 40.3% saying they deliver a positive experience, compared to 37.1% who say banks do.’


Personalisation is a key differentiator

digital banking

Personal finances are a very private and sensitive issue — and everyone has a different situation. It’s also something many of us struggle to manage to a level we are happy with. And getting it right or wrong can have a dramatic impact on your life. Provided it’s transparent and trustworthy, any financial service designed around an individual’s specific needs, helping them gain greater control over their situation, is going to hold a lot of power.

As a result, the majority of FinTech start-ups are finding huge success from channelling into the power of personalisation in their service offering.

A recent Digital Banking Report goes so far as to say that ‘personalisation across all stages of the consumer journey will be a key differentiator for banking in the very near future.’


Our user experience review

For our taster UX review of the finance sector, we’ve chosen to focus on two leading traditional banks Barclays and NatWest, and two industry challengers Atom bank and Monzo.

Having established that today’s market expects better and faster digital banking services, we’ve reviewed the user experience on the below to assess how well the current market players are responding to this demand:



Get your copy of our digital banking UX review here: