Enough slagging off banks, let’s talk about some of the good things some of the NZ banks have been doing lately …

I see Kiwibank have launched an iPhone version of their online banking site.

Very cool.

I love it how they have stripped back the functionality to just the essential bits – check your balance, transfer money.  The only thing that’s possibly missing is making a payment.  As a result the interface is not cluttered with lots of unnecessary noise.

However, look closely at the screenshots and you’ll see an interface still dominated by lots of mostly meaningless numbers.

Is “38-9007-0581259-00” your cheque account or your savings account?  Or your company account?  Or maybe your joint account for shared expenses?  You’ll have to either have a memory for long strings or (more likely) guess based on the balances.  But, good luck with that approach on the transfer screen – there are no balances displayed.

As far as innovations go I’m much more impressed with a small change that ASB recently made: you can now name your own accounts.

So simple.

You can choose names, like “Cheque” or “Savings”.  But, if you like, you can also call them whatever you want.  Use this to your advantage – I imagine it would be much harder to frivolously spend money from your savings account if it was called “Fiji Trip”, for example!

Little things…

13 thoughts on “Personalisation”

  1. HI Rowan,

    You’ve been able to do this for quite some time with the BNZ internet banking. They made this change a year or so ago. Very handy.


  2. Funny how we were slagging off Westpac yesterday, yet this is a feature that Westpac have had for a long time too. You can also rename your login ID to something more friendly.

  3. “However, look closely at the screenshots and you’ll see an interface still dominated by lots of mostly meaningless numbers” – this is one of the key issues that ASB’s pago service addresses; it allows you to place a meaningful name to your pago wallet, one that can then be used for receiving payments into – say for a TradeMe auction, or in order to settle a shared bill with a friend. You can also use that name to shop online with participating merchants…

    While pago may still be looking for ubiquity, I think that is a feature that really stands out for its simplicity. It also offers a degree, or type, of anonymity (you don’t need to distribute your bank account # to get paid)

    Similarly, in regards to naming your accounts whatever you want, as far as I know, you can’t actually use that name to direct a payment to. For example, if I want to give you some money to help with your Fiji trip, I can’t initiate an online payment from my bank account at ABC Bank to “Fiji Trip” @ XYZ Bank – I still need to know your 15 / 16-digit account number… So, while the account naming feature is great for managing your own accounts to an extent, it’s still doesn’t provide anything truly functional in the manner that the pago name does – i.e. greater ease-of-use when transacting with others….

  4. Pago is fine, but it does have some serious limitations. For example you can only pay $200 a day, plus the person receiving the money has to either have a pago wallet or go through a transfer process on the website – a bit tedious.

    Brendon mentioned that BNZ have a facility to name your accounts. Its true, they introduced this about two years ago I think. But what is even better is that that name appears everywhere: internet banking, the ATM, even when I visit the branch. I was doing some banking the other day and the teller told me that my ‘Holiday savings’ account was doing well!!

  5. Hey Rowan,
    I’m the developer for the Kiwibank Mobile Internet Banking site and firstly, I’m glad you like it :).
    Just a couple of small clarifications to explain some of your points:
    We had a look at having the account names in the list instead of the account numbers but decided against in the end as accounts names default to the account type (eg “NOW ACCOUNT”). So if you have multiple accounts of the same type, they will all be called the same thing – a bit more confusing than account numbers :) (You can also rename accounts (which are visible on all systems) with us as well – I’m actually surprised ASB couldn’t, I always thought of them as innovators :))
    On the first screenshot you’ll notice a little icon to the right, if you touch that it’ll drop down and display the other account information anyway like account name and actual balance (as opposed to the current balance). So you can easily get your account name by pressing the arrow if you need to.

    As for the transfer, we also had quite a few discussions about what to show in the drop down lists. The first versions of the site had the account balance and everything in it, but due to the limitations of the screen size, they were getting cut off. We ended up choosing just the account number as people will remember the order of the accounts (Or suffixes). Once you select the account you need to confirm the transfer anyway, and on this screen it displays the balance and account name as well. So if you get here and you’ve chosen the wrong account you can just go back and try a different one. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many other options as the account number fills the whole screen when you select it…

    Anyway, we’re looking at launching version 2 of this soon which should add a few more features (including support for more devices) and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to send me an email :)


  6. @Brendon: The account names at the BNZ were done before I worked on the product, so I think it was at least 4-5 years ago.

    Ironically the technical teams joked about how ‘useless’ the feature was even after it was launched. “If they’re too silly to know that suffix 51 is their savings account, perhaps they don’t deserve their money”. Over the last few years I’ve banked with ASB and on 3 occasions I’ve paid company funds onto my personal credit card because I didn’t recognise the two number difference between the two cards. Cash advance fees and interest ensued…

    As with most things in retail banking the implementation is more complicated than adding a ‘name’ column to the ‘accounts’ table, but I’m still amazed it took asb as long as it did. They’re so ahead on most other features…

  7. Those are definitly a good thing, but I guess ASB has more money behind their dev team than bankdirect does (even tho it’s the same company) – I suggested this to BD about 12 months ago, and they still dont have it. .

    Oh, well, either product is still better than the awful, time-delayed nonsense that Barclays in the UK have. They can only tell me the balance as of midnight, not now. And even then, I can see items which are in the future (eg, if it’s sunday, I can see things which are about to come out on monday, with mondays date). It’s very confusing. Their 2 factor authentication is good tho. Account number + I have to enter my PIN into a small calculator-sized device, with my bank card in it, and enter the resulting 8 digit number, much like a RSA token.

    As for the mobile banking – the kiwibank one looks very nice, but yeah much more use with account naming. So simple to do, too.

    A number of the US banks have proper iphone apps for theirs, which should be more secure. But even just a webapp is nice :)

  8. I still find it disturbing when a bank gets the security stuff SO wrong tho. From the kiwibank site:

    “We’ve ensured our internet banking for the iPhone is as safe and secure as possible from hackers and fraud. But please use caution with Wifi when connecting to the internet. Use the highest form of Wifi encryption possible (usually this will be WPA2) to minimise your exposure to risk.”

    Um, hang on a second. I should be able to do this over a totally unsecured wifi network, because they are using SSL from my browser to the bank. The wifi advice is good in general, but not in this case.

    PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, tell me they use SSL!!

  9. @Tom:

    “While pago may still be looking for ubiquity…” is a rather large understatement, no?

    How many active customers do you have using pago (not counting ASB staff)?

  10. Being a happy Kiwibank customer it is good to see them being really innovative in mobile. I used the service the other day for the first time and it was very easy and fast. Roll on version 2!

  11. I think all the major banks have had mobile applications for a while. Perhaps they haven’t had iPhone apps – iPhone is rather recent in NZ, though you’ve been able to build for it for a while.

    I also find it very easy to work out which account is which.. it is only the last few numbers I look at…

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