Tuesday 30 October 2012

paying bills is boring even with lipstick!

Continuing with my series of posts on improving online and mobile banking, this time (find here the previous entry) I will make a case for intermediation instead of, or in addition to, simplification.

Lately I've seen many technology providers and banks showcasing the new advances in mobile and online banking... nice pie charts that move, a couple of web 2.0 interactions and bill payment operations that show the logos of the utility companies.

No doubt we're living a modernization of banking sites and the whole digital banking experience, but it seems to me that the more things change, the more stay the same.

Take for example bill payments... you can add all the logos of the world and make them drop into de screen and show me how my payment is "being processed" with a progress bar... but you know what? I still find paying bills boring!

You can also show me my investment in mutual funds with a pie chart showing the distribution of assets among stocks, bonds and money markets, and allow me to click into one of them to see the whole composition of the segment... but, I still prefer to do other things than choosing funds and looking their composition.

Sure I want to make money, but for that I work and I have a bank to take care of the money I make. I feel that I belong to a group that represents the vast majority of people... we don't know how to take care of our banked money, we don't care enough about how to do it or simply we would rather be doing something else.

I like current efforts being made to simplify, beautify and enrich digital banking, but sometimes it seems like putting lipstick on a bill!...it will still be a bill ;-)

Instead on focusing how to make paying a bill nicer, let's remove it from the equation... automatize it... alert the user that a payment will take place and then do it. Give the power of veto as it gives the user the control over the operation, but don't force the user to pay it everytime.

Propose the funds that are best for the user, change them when needed and show the user the progress from time to time... again giving the control to the power user that wants to do it on her own.

And even if the user will visit less the banking app or site, the interaction either by alerts, mails and on the site will be much more meaningful.

Quantity should not be over quality... I interact with a bus driver everyday, but I'm not closer to him in any way... and if you remove him from the equation like in the subway I don't see the difference. But my usual cab driver when I go to the airport puts the kind of music I like and knows when to talk to me and when to leave me alone because I'm busy.

Let's make the new digital banking more engaging, more helpful, more valuable and more meaningful for the users.

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