All I asked was to open a bank account

The year is 2017, we order almost everything that we need from Amazon, and Ebay. We never pay for a taxi in cash and neither need to catch a taxi- we just open an app and call for it. We borrow money from our friends and return it via Venmo app, we get our deliveries (almost) immediately and know who will be the delivery guy before we even meet him.
This is the new era that we live in and as a matter of fact, it isn’t so new anymore.

However, when we need to deal with our bank, it feels like it was stuck somewhere in the 90s.

Sure, banks are trying to reinvent themselves constantly, but somehow the basic interaction with the bank doesn’t feel like that.

I just recently went to the bank to open a new account and to tell you the truth I was pretty amazed by the experience:

First, I didn’t know whether I can schedule a meeting with a banker or go to the branch at the opening hours.

Then, I waited for 35 minutes before anyone talked to me.

The account opening process took over an hour and apparently I will have to go there again to collect my credit card and checkbook (by the way, why do we still need to use those paper checks?).

All the process happened on the banker screen without me being able to see the details that being entered about me.


Then the banker started asking weird questions — he said it’s a KYC (Know Your Costumer) questionnaire and when I say weird I really mean it.

At the end I signed a bunch of Terms’ papers written in a very legal language. I’m not really sure what I signed on but I took a copy of those papers home. Maybe someday I will find the time to read them, or not…

KYC form. Source:

To summarize my experience, I will only say, it could be super different.
It could be fully digital and much easier for me but also for the banker.

Seriously, it can be much different

A few years ago the regulation tried to make the customers’ life easier and allowed banks to open account digitally.
I know that opening a bank account still suffers from a list of regulation requirements but it can still become a good experience.

For the 5 last years I’ve been exploring this issue — the customer onboarding and specifically opening a bank account digitally. I planned bank onboarding through a bank website and then at a native mobile app.
And I can promise you that this experience can be amazing if it is treated properly.

Before I will start with the key factors for a successful onboarding, I have to say that a few banks did develop a digital onboarding process, but it wasn’t build properly and you can easily see the bank didn’t take this option as a main option for account opening.

In order to succeed in building the best onboarding experience and to make this process the main acquisition tool of the bank, here are a few things you pay attention to:

#1- Time is precious
Onboarding process must take less than 10 minutes. Your customers don’t have time to spent and sure not for the cause of joining a bank. You must make sure that it will be quick and to let the customer know how much time it is going to take.

An example of 5 minutes onboarding

#2- 100% Digital

The process must be fully digital. Many banks implemented a process which is not 100% digital and therefor the customer still needs to go to the branch — to sign documents or to take his credit card. 
Your customers are very busy and if they will have to come to the branch, they will probably give up.
I prefer to have this process on a mobile app — the onboarding is the gateway to the bank, so it makes sense that the customer will download the app and will keep using it after the onboarding.

#3- Don’t leave me with an empty box

Many times the customer opens an account but can’t use it. He puts a lot of effort in this process but at the end he is getting only an empty account.
Nobody wants to open an account just for the sake of the account.
Usually you have to go and pick up your card and checkbook, you have to submit a request for a credit limit (so you can go to minus balance) and even to get a permission to the secured website or banking app.
Make sure that the customer will finish the onboarding and will have a bank account plus everything that he can possibly need.

#4-Don’t let me fill any forms

Most of the banks which offer a digital onboarding for their customers do it as a side project. So they don’t really try to design it properly.
The outcome is usually a website with a digital form — an endless form that the customer needs to fill in.
There are two problems with this situation:
1. Most of the customers will open the website of the bank in their mobile device. Have you ever tried to fill in all the details in many fields in that small screen? It’s almost impossible and very exhausting.
2. No one will fill any forms, no one has the time and when you open a website and find a form, there’s a 90% chance that you will close it.

An example of onboarding that looks like a form

#5- Bank’s Onboarding should not be different from others

Your customers do onboarding frequently. They know how it feels to do onboarding to social media apps, Gett or Uber, Airbnb and more.
There is no reason that the bank account opening process will be different.
I know what you think, “How can we do it? We have strict regulation and many forms to sign on”, but from my experience, it is possible. 
You just have to be creative and think “outside the box”.

How do banks expect to stay relevant when their customers who are so digital and do everything in that small device called smartphone have to reach to the branch and have that kind of experience — its absolutely insane.

A smart man named Albert Einstein once said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.


To summarize my post, it is possible. Any bank can design and implement a new, joyful and creative way to join customers to the bank. It can really be fully digital and frictionless.
It is only a matter of a mindset and priority and to look at the digital onboarding process as the main way to join the bank.

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