DIY banking takes consumers beyond the branch


March 8, 2021

The pandemic has quickly pushed the payments world toward the direction of “hands-off.” The rise of contactless payments and digital banking will attest to that. But that doesn’t mean banks can leave consumers to figure out their financial lives on their own. In fact, the “do it yourself” movement in financial services has created a need for enhanced functionality to facilitate payments, as well as the ability to report suspected fraud and receive automated alerts to ensure that “do it yourself” doesn’t become “do it all by yourself.”


In the digital age, for consumers, credit card servicing is becoming a largely “do it yourself” affair. In an interview with PYMNTS, Tina Selwyn, head of customer experience at credit card transaction service provider Elan Financial Services, said that cardholders have become digitally savvy, and are “constantly raising the bar on what they expect to do digitally.”


Self-service has become what Selwyn termed a “strategic area of focus” for Elan and other firms over the past few years, especially amid the pandemic. She expects the embrace of such DIY options to accelerate in the years ahead, across online and brick-and-mortar channels. But along with that embrace has emerged a learning curve, as customers have had to shift away from branch settings and conduct daily life online.


“To help customers understand what is available to self-serve digitally, we need to provide them with the useful content that can educate them” beyond the payments and other (in some cases) basic functions that cardholders have already become comfortable handling in an online setting, said Selwyn.


In satisfying expectations – and bringing cardholders to new experiences – convenience is an important factor, said Selwyn, who noted that Elan’s overall goal is to make it “unbelievably easy for customers to do business with us from the application onwards.” That means crafting a streamlined process from the very first interactions, to digitally engage consumers as quickly as possible, meet their self-service needs and maximize their card rewards.


The DIY Factor 

“From an onboarding standpoint, we can accelerate our overall emphasis on allowing customers to seamlessly apply for credit,” Selwyn told PYMNTS. By way of example, Elan has invested in technology that allows applicants to text a unique short code, visit a URL or scan a QR code to apply for credit using a mobile device. “This channel has seen exponential growth since the onset of the pandemic,” she noted.


Elan has also introduced the ability to instantly provision new and existing card credentials into digital wallets, working with PayPal and other industry providers and card-on-file merchants to accommodate users’ payment preferences.


With a nod toward education, Selwyn said the industry at large has been making an effort to provide transparency in what it takes to build and maintain a positive credit score and good financial health, with spend analysis and secured card products that can help members improve their respective financial positions.


“Direct mail and emails still have a place, but digital marketing continues to grow,” she said — and banks and other FIs need to meet customers where they are online. Whether it's via the browser or the phone, relevant and timely marketing can be presented. FIs need to factor in the customer's new way of living when offering cards or rewards, whether it’s a value-add to food delivery, groceries or home improvement.


The convenience factors and educational efforts should help set the stage for a rebound in credit use as the pandemic recedes and the economy improves, said Selwyn – though the timing of that shift remains unclear.


Convenience also plays a role when it comes to card security and managing cards on a day-to-day basis. Cardholders find value in the ability to lock and unlock cards at will online, or to set up alerts for transactions via email or push notifications in their channel of choice.


Strategically, it has never been more important for FIs to make it easy for cardmembers to set up and manage their accounts digitally, receive notifications and alerts when and how they want, and have expanded opportunities to learn and improve their financial health.


This article originally appeared on on March 2, 2021.

“It has never been more important for FIs to make it easy for cardmembers to set up and manage their accounts digitally.”