The new Javelin study is blunt: consumers crave online andmobile account opening but financial institutions are stumbling anduncertain in their embrace of this trend.

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And that is a mistake, suggested Javelin's Mark Schwanhausser, director, Omnichannel Financial Services, and anauthor of the report.

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Financial institutions, he suggested, need to rethink theaccount opening process and what it means to both the institutionand the consumer.

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The report notes: “The fact that 88.5 million Americansattempted to open an account online or with a mobile device in thepast 12 months underscores how far digital account opening hascome. Nonetheless, its potential remains largely untapped.”

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A key finding in the Javelin research is this: “Digital account opening is forcingface-to-face bankers to evolve.” Financial services executives havetraditionally seen in-branch account opening as the key thatunlocked selling other products and so the question is, whenconsumers open online, how to sell them?

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Answers won't necessarily come easy, suggested Schwanhausser inan interview, but they will have to come because a growing numberof consumers want to open accounts without a branch visit.

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Another, key finding in the report: “Mobile upgrades are neededurgently.” Schwanhausser elaborated that it simply is difficult tofill out lengthy forms on a smartphone and financial institutionswill have to evolve approaches that give them all the informationthey need to but which also give the consumer ease of use.

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He pointed to tools that, for instance, populate parts of adocument with information gleaned from a smartphone photograph of adriver's license as a case in point.

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Good news in the report is that the numbers of onlineapplications that successfully complete keep rising, but the reporthas bad news for credit unions: “Credit union members aresignificantly less likely than customers of the nation's four giantbanks to prefer applying online, a finding that points tosubstandard capabilities that disappoint credit union members, whoexhibit a hunger for online-banking capabilities.”

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Per Schwanhausser, the probability is that the pace of mobileaccount openings will only increase and financial institutions areadvised to take steps now to be ready. “This switch may comequicker than you think. The urgency is in the speed in whichconsumer banking habits are changing – that is rapidly reshapingbanking.”

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