The new Javelin study is blunt: consumers crave online and mobile account opening but financial institutions are stumbling and uncertain in their embrace of this trend.
And that is a mistake, suggested Javelin’s Mark Schwanhausser, director, Omnichannel Financial Services, and an author of the report.
Financial institutions, he suggested, need to rethink the account opening process and what it means to both the institution and the consumer.
The report notes: “The fact that 88.5 million Americans attempted to open an account online or with a mobile device in the past 12 months underscores how far digital account opening has come. Nonetheless, its potential remains largely untapped.”
A key finding in the Javelin research is this: “Digital account opening is forcing face-to-face bankers to evolve.” Financial services executives have traditionally seen in-branch account opening as the key that unlocked selling other products and so the question is, when consumers open online, how to sell them?
Answers won’t necessarily come easy, suggested Schwanhausser in an interview, but they will have to come because a growing number of consumers want to open accounts without a branch visit.
Another, key finding in the report: “Mobile upgrades are needed urgently.” Schwanhausser elaborated that it simply is difficult to fill out lengthy forms on a smartphone and financial institutions will have to evolve approaches that give them all the information they need to but which also give the consumer ease of use.
He pointed to tools that, for instance, populate parts of a document with information gleaned from a smartphone photograph of a driver’s license as a case in point.
Good news in the report is that the numbers of online applications that successfully complete keep rising, but the report has bad news for credit unions: “Credit union members are significantly less likely than customers of the nation’s four giant banks to prefer applying online, a finding that points to substandard capabilities that disappoint credit union members, who exhibit a hunger for online-banking capabilities.”
Per Schwanhausser, the probability is that the pace of mobile account openings will only increase and financial institutions are advised to take steps now to be ready. “This switch may come quicker than you think. The urgency is in the speed in which consumer banking habits are changing – that is rapidly reshaping banking.”