Have Banks actually embraced Digital Convergence?

I have always viewed the Financial Sector’s attempts to move to the digital age in personal online banking with suspicion, feeling that they do not understand the concept of “Online”. Digital Convergence and immediacy as concepts seem to have passed them by. 

Perhaps I am doing some banks a disservice by tarring all with the same brush, but I will be delighted to be introduced to a bank that can actually demonstrate that it understands the implications of the Digital Revolution in a more fundamental way than by using millenials in their advertising and by rattling up an online banking platform and having you visit a branch before you can use it.

They seem to have interpreted Digital Convergence is a very restricted way, one that suits their purposes, while paying lip service to the needs and aspirations of their customers.  They are not in step with the digital age, where online banking means that in theory you should be able to signup for their services and immediately thereafter bank from anywhere on a variety of devices without ever putting foot in a branch. 

Capitec have failed the online test, FNB and ABSA have failed the online test, and now Standard Bank have joined the rest of the major SA Banks.  However, having said that, It’s not just SA.  My Scottish Bank required that I update my Internet profile, and POSTED, yes POSTED my new PIN to me.  No immediate access to my account. What’s the point of an online service that makes you wait days before it can be used?

They were surpassed this morning by Standard Bank.

Standard Bank have issued a new Internet Bank App to which you will be moved without the option in a little while when the old app is discontinued. They claim that your current Internet Banking profile allows you to move to the new platform using your existing credentials. Just enter your existing registered email account and password.

After trying unsuccessfully to log on, and being told the credentials I used for the old app were invalid, I was asked to reset my password. I duly entered my ATM card number and PIN as requested and was told it does not exist or was incorrect.  My ATM PIN is locked and I must now go to a branch to unlock it.  They use One-Time PIN to cellphone verification technology for other confidential transactions, so why not in this case? 

Access to the old app is also locked.  So, If I were needing to pay bills in SA and attempting to use either app from outside SA, far from a branch, I am totally screwed.

In frustration, I turned to my Windows cellphone to find that my cellphone banking app no longer connects because it has been discontinued and the replacement “UPGRADE” app is not available for Windows phones.  I call the support centre to be told that this is because the mobile security platform they use does not support Windows. Rather, it is a design decision by Standard Bank to deliberately exclude the Windows platform from the specification and development of the new cellphone app.  The usual flim-flam about “under active investigation and development” and all the rest of the corporate bulldust doesn’t cut any mustard with me.  

Perhaps it is time to consider a move to another bank. I’ve resisted for several years on the basis of better the devil you know, but this highlights the vast gulf between marketing and reality in the Financial Sector.

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