Boy, Does Banking Ever Need a Makeover!
Jay Sidhu CEO of BankMobile and Customers Bank
Luvleen Sidhu Chief Strategy Officer of BankMobile
Uber changed everything. And not just the way you hail a cab.
If you’ve ever used Uber, you know that it makes getting from Point A to Point B laughably simple. Open up the Uber app, tap a couple of prompts, and presto—a clean, comfortable, roadworthy vehicle, driven by an individual who has passed driving and criminal checks, arrives at your door to take you wherever you want to go.
But Uber changed more than just getting around.
It changed the way we think—and not just about the taxi-and-limousine industry.
Remember when people used to say, “If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they . . . ?” And they’d finish the sentence with whatever they thought should be super easy to do but was complicated for no good reason.
Today, people say, “If they can create Uber, and completely change the taxi-and limousine industry, why can’t they change . . . ?” Everything we do, from the way we travel to the way we shop, from the way we eat to the way we entertain ourselves, has been turned upside down by some Uber-like company or idea. Everything, that is, except banking. Why doesn’t your bank behave more like Uber—or Amazon, Airbnb, Facebook, iTunes, Pandora, Fandango, Waze, Seamless, or Netflix, for that matter?
In an era where you can tap an app and buy a book, a plane ticket, a stock, a song, or a vacation rental, banking is stuck in the nineteenth century. That’s because banks still spend money on branches (or stores, in the parlance of the industry), in every neighborhood and business district around the country. What they haven’t done is create the kind of experience you get on your smartphone from Uber and any of the thousands of other life-enhancing apps. That’s because the money that banks could be investing in an Uber-like banking experience is going toward rent, security, and utilities at branch offices instead.
Ever think about the security guards watching over the premises?
You’re paying for them.
All the advertising for those banks and all of the other expenses associated with traditional banking—the money for their upkeep—comes out of your pocket. Your paycheck. Your savings.
Need a new bank card? Get ready to spend another hour sitting there, proving to your “customer relationship manager” that you are who you say you are—even though he or she should know that by now.
Need more checks? Hope you aren’t in a hurry. They’ll take a couple of weeks to arrive.
Need anything from a human being? Get ready to waste even more precious minutes of your life waiting, waiting, waiting.
We haven’t even gotten to bank fees yet.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Banks don’t see you as a customer. They see you as a piñata. It’s party time, and they’re going to keep whacking you with fee upon fee until there’s nothing left in your checking account. No exaggeration. In one case, a fintech CFO opened a checking account in her five-year-old son’s name to teach him about the benefits of managing money. The boy’s first statement showed a $12 service charge. At that monthly rate, his $100 investment would all but drain away in eight months. And when he got down to his last dollar, the bank would charge him a fee for running out of money.
Better not even try to close the account, because the bank charges for that too!
You cannot make this stuff up.
The dirty little secret of banking is that banks charge you fees — outrageous, unjustifiable, and all too often illegitimate fees — for trying to use your own money the way you want to.
Want to get money from an ATM outside your network? You’re going to pay a fee.
Bounce a check? You’re going to pay a bigger fee.
Doing just about anything at any bank will trigger a fee.
Each year, banks charge more in overdraft fees alone than what Americans spend on vegetables—about $32 billion. Isn’t that outrageous?!
That’s how the banks pay for all those shiny branch offices.
That’s how bankers pay the salaries of tellers, officers, security guards, cleaning staff, and everyone else.
That’s how most banks pay their executive management the big bucks.
By nickel-and-diming you.
In the age of Uber, how can this go on?
Isn’t there a better way?
The answer is yes—a better way is here, and it’s already an essential part of our everyday lives. It’s your smartphone. We’re using it not only to search, compare, shop, tweet, snap, post and chat 24/7. We’re also using it, and other smart devices, to access nearly everything in our lives — education, healthcare, exercise routines, entertainment, vacation plans, job searches, dates. We don’t have to tell you how central the digital realm has become to the way we live now. More and more of us, from Millennials to Baby Boomers, have bought into the Internet of Things—the new world order that is turning our phones, tablets, wearable tech, TVs, cars, refrigerators, and much more into one synchronized computing system. Banks, stuck in an antiquated system of fees and outdated products and services, don’t get it that a new technology paradigm has changed how we live our lives. Banks are hellbent on sticking to their passé systems and products because that’s how they make money. By sticking it to you.
The Internet of Things has done a lot more than give us streaming video in place of videocassettes or home automation systems in place of mercury-bulb thermostats. It’s changed how we experience our world. Sites and apps so different from each other — Facebook, Uber, Amazon, Zappos, YouTube, and Kayak to name a few — give you a world of options. Look at Amazon. It developed Firefly, a technology that lets you scan something with your Fire HDX tablet or Fire phone and buy it through Amazon or its Amazon Price Check app. (Okay, the service would be much more amazing if it let you compare and buy products anywhere online. Someday, somebody’s going to come up with that better mousetrap.) Who knows how much shoe leather Zappos and Shoebuy have saved you by letting your “fingers do the walking.”
The value of all these apps and sites is greater than the sum of their parts because they also recommend books, movies, shoes, vitamins, household goods, etc., based on your searching habits. Then, when you’re ready to buy, you can decide how you’re going to pay and when you want delivery. And later on, when you want to purchase another product, you can review an index of your complete buying history. A truly useful app shows you what you’re looking for, of course, but it’ll also arm you with information.
It’s not about the product anymore. It’s about you.
We designed a mobile banking app with this customer-centered mantra in mind. When you bank with us at BankMobile, you’re getting pretty much the same experience you get from Uber, Amazon, Zappos, and Waze. You’ll access your checking account, savings account, line of credit, your financial advisor, and more—the same way you access everything else in your life.
With BankMobile, you’ll get an exponentially better way to do your banking. No more nonsense and hype, which is what you get from bank ads all day long.
“We care about you.”
“We’ll give you a cup of coffee.”
Instead, our company, BankMobile, is what happens if you take Uber model and apply it to the banking industry. The recipe is simple. Add one measure of communications technology; take advantage of an existing network of ATM machines all over the planet; eliminate the need for branches; eliminate all of those outrageous fees.
Use us to help you get to where you want to go — financially.
Serve when ready.
That’s the BankMobile approach to banking.