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Have You Lost Your App-etite?

Digital banks claim agility and customer service as their differentiating factors. But is that the reality? Meet The Boss TV’s Sasha Qadri investigates.

With all this talk about app based, digital only banks, my interest was piqued. In the UK, Atom Bank launched in April and last week, I decided to sign up, so I could write about what it’s truly like to use an app based bank.  Well, I signed up and surprisingly, I now have to wait for Atom to send me a code which will allow me to unlock the app and open an account.

Strike 1. If I’d gone to a stuffy, traditional bank, I would have an account by now. With the new, digital, agile bank, I have nothing to show for my sign up. Interesting…

Perhaps I’m being unfair.  According to reports, Atom is only allowing 30-40 people per day to download the app, as in their CEO, Mark Mullen’s words, “We are being very cautious as we need to get this absolutely right.”  And other app based banks are restricting numbers in a similar way.  Still, it seems slightly counter-intuitive to me.  On their website, Atom states “We’re building this bank for you. We’ll learn and adapt to you, celebrating your individuality in every way. Y our logo, your name, your colours (yes really!). Atom, uniquely yours.”

Guess I’ll just have to wait a little longer to have that unique experience. I honestly don’t care much for the personalised logo. Maybe some people do, but that largely bypassed me.

The tone that these app based banks use is interesting.  They’re appealing to the new type of customer, who wants that individual experience but at their own convenience.  Take Bank Mobile.  On their website, they simply state, “Why can’t banks be as easy as Uber?”  Errr, yeah, and add to the list, most other day to day services.  They’ve hit the nail on the head. They go on to say, “We’ve seen your frustration with big banks building. You can buy an airplane ticket to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, but it still takes you 25 minutes to open a bank account. Technology has changed the landscape and culture of many leading industries. Why not banking?” It’s hard to put it better even if I tried. But hang on, it’s taken me more than 25 minutes to open my account with Atom. At the current count, it’s 7 days. Ahem.

I did get in touch with Atom to get the latest information on the number of people registered and how many accounts have been opened, but I’m still waiting to hear back from them. I could claim this is Strike 2 but in all fairness, the bigger banks can also be incredibly slow on getting back with data (which they don’t really want to share).

So it’s one strike for now.  But I wonder how digital banks can keep the momentum and interest going when they stifle it right at the beginning of the process.  Maybe I’ll change my mind once I get my code and begin my new banking journey.  I’ll keep you posted.  Let’s hope it’s sometime this year…

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