How can banks streamline the onboarding process?

Find out why innovative community banks are the still at the heart of the US banking sector.

First impressions count. That’s why when it comes to securing new customers, the onboarding process is one of the most important steps that banks need to focus on. Enticing customers with attractive offers or a flashy marketing campaign can only get you so far. If consumers decide after they’ve signed up for an account or product that the reality doesn’t meet their expectations, they may not stick around.

Getting the first interactions with a customer right can be the difference between securing a loyal customer for many years and one that leaves quickly, with major cost implications for financial services firms.

How are banks fast-tracking onboarding efforts?

Being able to complete the process digitally is one key to this. In an environment where consumers expect to be able to conduct every aspect of their banking from their computer or smartphone, being required to go into a branch to show their identity will seem very outdated. Therefore, being able to complete this process entirely online is the next logical step.

A recent study by Mapa Research noted that the goal should be to enable customers to open an account and start spending on the same day. In some markets, such as the UK, the introduction of digital document upload services means that the verification stage can be completed quickly, while Germany’s digital-only challengers N26 and Fidor allow consumers to complete a video chat-based ID verification process in order to gain instant access to their account.

However, even with these capabilities, applicants must still normally wait at least two days for a card to arrive in the post before they can start spending, though this too is changing thanks to the advent of digital wallets. Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) is one financial institution that offers digital card issuance that can allow consumers to start using a digital card in a matter of minutes.

Even so, these efforts still require documentation to be verified before an account can be activated, and issues with this, such as a dependence on paper contracts or the lack of accepted digital ID verification, can lead to further delays.

Singapore trial offers document-less process

One solution may be a trial currently underway in Singapore that looks to make the digital onboarding process easier by removing the need for customers to provide supporting documentation altogether.

Four banks – UOB, Development Bank of Singapore, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation and Standard Chartered Bank – are participating in the government-led MyInfo service, which uses a centralized database of consumer details to source the required information. Currently, registered users of can apply for a bank account without supplying information such as copies of their ID or proof of income, as all the details required are already held by the service.

If successful, there are plans to extend the MyInfo service to other transactions such as applications for credit cards and home loans later this year.

Chief executive of Standard Chartered Michael Gorriz said the service will be a “win-win” for banks, consumers and the government. “Consumers will benefit from only having to provide their data once and have control over access to their personal information,” he said. “Banks will benefit because we get qualified, accurate data from the consumer.”

Efforts such as this may not be practical everywhere, as Singapore’s centralized government-supported database is unusual, but it does highlight how making the onboarding process as fast and hassle-free as possible needs to be a focus for any bank.

Written by Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom

Glenn Tom is NCR’s Senior Director of Global Solutions Marketing. In this position, he is responsible for leading global marketing efforts for all of the division’s consumer- and FI-facing solutions, including digital banking, branch, ATM hardware and software, channel management, payments & transaction processing and enterprise fraud & security. Prior to joining NCR and Digital Insight in 2008, Glenn previously held marketing and general management positions at Intuit, Morgan Stanley, Citibank and American Express. Glenn has a BA in Liberal Arts from Claremont McKenna College, a BS in Industrial Engineering from USC and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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