Why aren’t people opening accounts online?

A client sent me the graphic below with a question – if 9 out of 10 people are still opening bank accounts in the branch, should our organization bother introducing online account opening?

Considering the chart in question, which was sent out by the ABA Banking Journal in January 2018, I was reminded of a segment on the 538 Podcast, “Good use of data or bad use of data?”

The idea of the segment, as you may be able to guess, is to determine if the conclusion derived from a piece of data is accurate, based, I assume, on the idea that you can make your data say whatever you want.

In this case, the data has a few problems, starting with timeliness. Understanding that it takes time to collect, analyze and publish data, statistics from 2016 feel like a lifetime ago.

The second is the group surveyed – following up with the Journal on Twitter, we were told that the survey “was conducted among a large and diverse cross-section of all banks,” and not, presumably, just those banks that actually offer online account opening.

In July, The Financial Brand noted that the number of organizations allowing for opening checking accounts online jumped from less than 50% in 2016 to 66% in 2017, with a growing percentage indicating they plan on allowing for end-to-end checking account opening in the future.

Which leaves us with this question – are 9 out of 10 accounts opened in a branch because of customer preference, the online experience is terrible, or the option is not available?

Unfortunately, data shared in this “byte” doesn’t answer these questions, and may lead banks to the wrong conclusion.

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