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Omnichannel account opening has appeal across generations


Imagine you are on the search for a new mobile phone plan. Conveniently, your desired provider has an easy sign-up button on their website. You fill in a few forms, expecting to be quickly accepted and get info on how to activate your SIM card.

Instead, the site requires you to visit a store in person to verify your identity. When you arrive at the store, the clerk cannot find your original application and asks you to fill out another from scratch. Finally, activated phone in hand, the clerk has you download a mobile app to manage your account. But rather than easily syncing with your new account, the app requires a completely new registration process.

If consumers had to jump through these hoops for a phone, that provider would quickly go out of business. However, this is a common process at banks for bringing in new deposits: A customer tries to open a new checking account online, and if the bank has an issue confirming their identity, often the customer is asked to come into the branch. This approach can start the relationship off on the wrong foot or drive the new customer away entirely.

New accounts in any format

Banks use the word omnichannel to describe their account-opening tools, but in practice “omnichannel” turns into “mobile or online options for the perfect applicant only” and too many people get left out when using digital account opening solutions.

For a better digital experience, look for ways to keep people in their preferred channel, even if your bank needs more from them. Instead of an in-person visit for establishing proof of address, a digital account-opening tool should allow for image processing that collects and verifies the validity of IDs and supporting documents like paystubs or utility bills.

Or, if your classic methods of identity verification like out-of-wallet questions are not cutting it, provide more ways to verify identity, such as an AI-powered comparison between an applicant’s ID and their face. Many tasks that are typically seen as in-branch-only can and should be supported in omnichannel tools.

Even with a powerful digital channel, banks should not always assume a new customer will pick one channel and stay there. In a true omnichannel solution, each channel needs to work independently while playing to the strengths of every channel.

Capturing and verifying an ID image is important for fraud prevention, but if someone is using a computer, they may not have a way to provide that ID image unless your omnichannel tools can easily hand off their application from their computer to their smartphone to use the camera.

If someone is opening an account online, but needs to get personalized support over the phone, can support staff easily connect the phone call to that person’s application and co-browse to directly see and fix problems? Switching between channels should never be a requirement, but a true omnichannel experience needs to find what is great about each channel and use those advantages to create the best process for everyone.

Solutions for everyone

In financial services, there seems to be an ongoing mission to decode how financial institutions can best serve each generation. Traditionally, banks tend to view in-person as the preferred option of older generations and online or mobile as one for younger generations, but this is not always the case.

A BAI survey found that more than three-quarters of Baby Boomers say their primary financial services provider’s digital capabilities are meeting their needs. Our data from Google Analytics affirms the importance of digital for this generation from an account-opening perspective. In the 55-64 age range, we see almost as many users applying for accounts on a mobile device or a tablet as on a computer.

Alternatively, younger generations like Gen Z might have a lot of questions about the account-opening process and prefer to have someone in the branch walk them through the process and answer their questions. BAI research found that nearly half of Gen Z is willing to pay for customized services or financial advice. Although these generations tend to prefer online and mobile channels, banks must ensure that they have plenty of options that work for them.

When discussing omnichannel solutions of any kind, the importance of mobile cannot be overstated. According to our Google Analytics data, mobile is the most popular channel for prime age applicants between the ages of 25-54. With growing concerns about new account fraud, mobile also presents some of the best ways to verify users.

When dealing with an age-diverse customer base, no one account opening solution will work for everyone. By offering a truly omnichannel solution, banks can give new customers a host of channels to choose from and they can use a combination that best fits their needs.

Evan Barale is a senior product manager at Access Softek.


BAI Banking Outlook video: Preparing for Gen Z

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