Someone make my online banking look like this

It seems no matter who your financial institution of choice, online banking is a total mess. I have yet to see an online banking system that is modern, functional and – most importantly – does what I want it to do.

I could write a book about the ways in which Lloyds TSB’s online banking system has inconvenienced me in the past. Needlessly complex security procedures, hard-to-find options and counter-intuitive interfaces all combine to create an irritating and time-consuming quagmire. To illustrate what I mean, here is the process to pay a credit card bill (a Lloyds credit card, no less), which took me roughly an hour to figure out when I came to do it for the first time:

  1. Select “Make a Payment” on the account from which you wish to pay the bill (not the credit card itself)
  2. Add a new recipient
  3. Enter the bank account details of the Lloyds TSB credit cards payment account (you have to look these up – no “I’m paying a credit card” option)
  4. Enter your card number as the reference
  5. Go through a ludicrous “we’ll phone you and you can enter this PIN number” verification system
  6. Go back to “Make a Payment”
  7. Choose the recipient you just set up
  8. Enter the amount you wish to pay
  9. Choose “ASAP” or schedule the payment for some time in the future
  10. Re-enter your password
  11. Watch a clock spin round and round while the screen informs you a “Faster Payment” is in progress (I dread to think how slow they were before)
  12. You’re done!

Here’s how that process should go:

  1. Click a “Make a Payment” button on the credit card you wish to pay towards
  2. Enter the amount you wish to pay
  3. Re-enter your password
  4. You’re done!

I don’t know about you, but 99% of the time when I log into my online banking all I want to do is check my balance and see the most recent transactions. It’s very rare that I’ll actually do anything once I’m logged in. This is what I see when I log in (the areas shaded grey are things that I’ve never, ever used, and highlighted in red are the things I care about):

Lloyds online banking

Yes, I have a bank account with 22p in it.

The proportion of screen real estate given up to ‘things that people will find useful’ is tiny compared to ‘things that will make Lloyds money’ – the priorities are skewed entirely in the wrong direction. Based on my needs (which I imagine are representative of many people’s), I’d prefer to see something like this when I log in –

Better Lloyds dashboard

Using a layout like this all the information I want (primarily balance and recent transactions) is presented front and centre, not in excruciating detail, but as much as I need, with the option to dive deeper.

Simple ≠ bad

Dates are kept vague (yesterday, last week etc.) in this overview. Honestly, who looks at their online banking and thinks “Ahh yes, I spent £0.83 in Smiths on the 13th December!” If you’re anything like me you won’t even know today’s date, let alone the date two days ago.

Lloyds seem determined to hide from users details of how money left an account. They use confusing acronyms for transfers and Direct Debits, and don’t give details of which card paid for a particular item (I have a joint account, so it’s not me doing all the spending). The pop-out view for each transaction supplies these details is a readily understandable way.

There’s also no reason to differentiate between a “transfer” and a “payment” for the average user. All I care about is that money is leaving my account, and the only way my brain sorts transactions is one-off (purchases or withdrawals) and recurring (bills).

Data mining

Our online banks hold tons of information that isn’t used in any way. A simple example – why not take my monthly income, subtract all my recurring payments and tell me how much spending money I have until my next payday? You could alter the dashboard to look something like this –

online_banking_cleverer

Dream bank

If we’re going all-out with online banking wish-lists, why not design an online banking system with Tray.io-style triggers? For example, send me a text when my balance falls below a certain amount, or if a transaction over a certain amount occurs.

Get some true two-factor authentication too and integrate with Google Authenticator.

Give me full access to my financial history (not just two months and a prompt to order paper copies of older statements), and let me apply notes and attachments to transactions (for example attach a PDF receipt).

While we’re at it, put a map in there and let me tell you when and where I’m going on holiday so my card doesn’t get blocked (as happens every time I travel, despite Lloyds’ insistence that it won’t). Not only would this save everyone trouble, if my bank knows where I’m going on holiday they can offer to sell me that country’s currency. Hell, they could even open a savings account for me when I book in my holiday and prompt me to pay in a certain amount every month to make sure I have enough spending money.

And lastly, give us access to our fucking data! But that’s another blog post for another time.

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