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Venmo app. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The other day, I heard from a woman who is completely frustrated with her banking experience. She has one account at her local bank and another at a global institution. While she loves the neighborhood feel and personalization of the smaller bank, she was quick to point out the disparity of mobile features between the institutions. One provided her the ability to make her car payment, pay her cable bill and send money to her daughter’s account at another bank using Zelle. The other, a smaller institution, offered little in terms of these convenient features. As a result, she wastes a lot of time navigating between these two banks. If her local bank offered better digital services, she said she’d be happy to give up the other account.

Her complaint is emblematic of the challenge facing smaller banks and credit unions: Consumers want to bank local but can’t bring themselves to sacrifice the convenience of full-service digital banking. This disconnect between consumer desire and the type of banking experience smaller institutions can afford to provide poses an existential threat to regional banks and credit unions.

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