Banking on Usability?


This ad from Kiwibank shows a customer turning to rage while checking his balance online   …presumably on a competitor bank’s website.

Banks were one of the first industries to take their services online in New Zealand, so after more than a decade to fine tune their customers’ online experience…

…should user-friendliness really be a point of difference?

5 thoughts on “Banking on Usability?

  1. Zef

    That, and ‘usefulness’ – so my bank is fairly user-friendly, but is missing many features I’d like for online banking (such as being able to label my own accounts) – if I didn’t have a fixed loan with them I would have switched by now.

  2. Nick

    Hiya Zef …Your suggestion of re-namable accounts is typical of the gems that come out of user research. It’s often ‘details’ like this, of high value to the customer, but with often low implementation cost that can prove to give one provider an edge over their competitors.

    Back in the 90’s the fact that online banking worked at all was worth shouting about .. Today (as well as working) User friendliness should be a given.

    Do any of the banks let you ‘label’ your accounts?

  3. Andrew Lynch

    Hi Nick. Kiwibank’s advert feels like a failure of marketing. Marketing people talk to people in different ways than experience designers talk to people. I would never assume that online banking (or the ease of its use) is a distinguishing feature, but I have watched users — here in 2009 — who struggle with or are scornful of the idea of managing their finances online.

    Interestingly, I recently ranked a handful of San Francisco banks based on what account features they offered to small business owners. Part of the ranking included how each bank characterized its online ease of use. I was surprised to discover that more than half of these banks thought I would be impressed by the ideas of creating mobile alerts, transferring funds between accounts, and photo-customizing my debit cards.

    But hey, I got a toaster, 3 crock pots, and some rechargeable batteries out of the study. It’s like the 80s all over again.

  4. Ken

    Ease of use should be standard, I’d agree. I’d like to see it go to the next level. It would be interesting to know how many customers (apart from me) would value an features like where you can manage your finances online and track spending against budgets. Would this lead to more competitive advantage? There seems to be complacency among banking customers (eg. see and I don’t know if these features would make people switch banks. Would it be worth banks investing in this in NZ? Still first thing’s first … basic usability. 🙂

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