Ideal Online Banks


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Ideal Online Banks

  1. 1. Online Banking Ideal vs. Customary Gavesh Malhan William Biedenbach Syed Zillur Rehman
  2. 2. Table of Contents I. Introduction......................................................................................1 II. Ideal Bank Website……..................................................................2 III. Evaluation Method...........................................................................8 IV. Bank Analysis..................................................................................9 V. Conclusion.....................................................................................39 Bank Website Ratings ………………..………………………… Appendix
  3. 3. I. Introduction The banking industry operates in a consistently evolving market environment. To remain competitive, banks attempt to improve process efficiencies and transform products/ services to meet customers’ needs. Technological innovation has always been at the root of these initiatives. The development of the internet and rapid advancements in communication tools has permitted banks to establish several banking channels for consumer customers; in particular Automated Teller Machines (ATM), banking over the internet or online banking, and mobile banking from a phone or PDA. The focus of this analysis is to determine to what degree banks have utilized the internet in the personal consumer banking sector to provide services for current and potential bank customers. The structure of the analysis compares a project team defined theoretically ideal banking website against already established functioning banking sites. Thirty banks with an internet presence have been selected for comparison. Each bank will be awarded a numerical score based on how well it matches the theoretical site. Subsequently, the banks will be ranked from most to least ideal. Additionally, a qualitative synopsis is provided discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each website reviewed. Key findings and an assessment of the studies results conclude the project. II. Ideal Bank Website The ideal banking website as defined by the project team contains five critical elements; (1) Security, (2) Convenience/Usability, (3) Online Functionality, (4) Account Services, and (5) Availability of Information. Each element selected is considered to be a determining factor for current and potential banking customers, and influential in their decision to stay with or become a member of the bank. Critical elements are further 1
  4. 4. broken down into measurable attributes that can be scored either present or absent. The collective presence of all the attributes on an individual banking website is considered by the project team to be ideal. The following section defines the characteristics of each individual element’s attributes. 1. Security • Website Security link on main page: Clearly marked hyperlink to website’s security information on the sites home page. • Extra security prompt: The use of additional security measures to prevent identity theft, (security icons, email conformations, access questions). • Public Access: Different security treatment of public computers used to assess the banking site. • Encryption: Site requires data encryption (128 bit or better). • Session Timeout: Site automatically logs out inactive banking session. • Online Fraud Policy: Clearly defined banking fraud policy. • Transfer/Bill Payment Policy: Bank’s online banking policy is clearly defined and trouble resolution guidelines are provided. • Online Claims: Ability to open and file trouble tickets / disputes online. • Login cookie: User option to display user id on return from home PC. • Date/Time of last login: Site provides previous account login information. • Alerts & Reminders: The bank proactively alerts individual customers of security issues or possible account threats. • Password policy: The bank sets password requirements that prevent easily hacked user ID/Passwords. 2
  5. 5. • General Security Warnings: The bank sends out security warnings to customers alerting customers to potential security threats (phishers or examples of spoof emails). • ID/Password Retrieval Online: Users are available to find or reset login information via the internet. 2. Convenience / Ease of Use • View Account Balance: Ability to quickly and easily view up to date account balance. • Pending Transaction: View current balance that takes into consideration any bill payments/transfers that have been set up for a future date. • ATM/Branch Link: Main page has links to ATM/branch. • Instant ATM search: Least number of mouse clicks to retrieve ATM/branch information. • ATM Location’s Map: Display all nearest locations on a map. • Directions to ATM: Driving directions link readily available. • ATM/Branch Detail: Location information with details such as address, telephone number, and hours of operation. • Services at ATM/Branch: List different types of services next to the branch. • Online application: Apply for different types of accounts online. • Instructions for online application: Clear instructions with pre-requisites and approximate time needed to apply online. • Internal Account Aggregation: Link and view different types of internal accounts such as credit card, saving, brokerage, checking account on a same screen. 3
  6. 6. • External Account Aggregation: Link and view different accounts at other banks on a single page. • Search field: Ability to search different topics from the main page. • Site Map link: Availability of site map for easy navigation. • Effective Website Design: Good layout and easy to browse with content in clear and non-cluttered format. • Minimum advertisement: Fewer product promotions and no pop-ups. 3. Account Services • Online customer service: 24/7 customer service that allows users to resolve matters online. • Service specific contact information: Availability of service specific contact information such as telephone & fax numbers, addresses, etc. • Online chat: Ability to chat with a live person in answering questions or resolving issues. • Email: Ability to send, receive, and read messages via email. • Online bill payment: Make payments to virtually anyone in the country at anytime. • Prior payments: View prior payments that have been processed and posted to your account using bill payment or transfer features. • Recurring and future payments: Ability to set up recurring payments for ongoing bills (like cable), so you don’t have to remember each time they are due and set up payments that are due in the future. 4
  7. 7. • Money transfer – internal accounts: Transfer money between different accounts within a bank. (For example, from checking to savings and vice versa). • Money transfer – external accounts: Transfer money to accounts that are in other domestic financial institutions. • Money transfer – international accounts: Send money to international bank accounts. • Transfer funds to non-personal accounts: Transfer/wire money to the accounts of other people. • Budgeting/spending summary: View transactions/expenditures by payee or categories (such as travel, utilities, loans, groceries, etc.) to see how and where you spent your money and be able to use it as a budgeting tool. • Integration with financial software: Integration with QuickBooks, Quicken, Microsoft Money or other similar software to download and view account activity. • Overdraft protection: Manage overdraft protection online to protect against unexpected overdrafts or embarrassment of bounced checks. • Stop/cancel payment: Ability to stop payment on checks that have been issued. • Image of cleared checks: View images of cancelled/cleared checks online – front and back. • Online check ordering: Order checks online with the same check design/style or different, if such option is available. • Automatic check ordering: Automatic re-orders of checks when the customer is down to writing the last few checks. • Apply for loans online: Apply for loans online in a fast, secure and easy manner. 5
  8. 8. • Online statements: View, print, and save statements online. • Banking alerts: Receive timely alerts that are sent right to email or wireless device. • Customizable alerts: Ability to customize alerts based on personal preference. • Mobile banking: 24/7 access to banking on mobile phone to check account balance, view account history, transfer money, and perform other functions. • Transaction history availability: View history of transactions on your account. Ability to view history for more than a year. • Receive eBills: Receive online version of paper bills directly to bill payment section of bank account. • Online banking rewards: Receive rewards for online banking. 4. Online Functionality • Personal Customization – Users can customize the look and feel of their online account (view/layout, news, and fingertip information). • Use of Multimedia – The site strikes a good balance between text/graphics/photos/etc. providing the user with a pleasant online experience. • Video Demo – The site uses video technology to provide users with instructional demonstrations, elaborating on products and service features. 5. Availability of Information • Products’ Description: Information on various products is sufficient and easy to understand. 6
  9. 9. • Additional Resources: Links to banking related resources. For instance, articles, tools like calculators to find out loan installment, college saving, retirement planning. • Fees Structure: Banking fees information such as bounced check charges, overdraft charges, ATM usage charges, and money transfer fees. • External Resources: Links to external resources including tax related matters, brokerage, and insurance products. 7
  10. 10. III. Evaluation method The attributes described in the Ideal Bank Website section define a template for the optimal banking website. By comparing this ideal banking template to already in place banking websites the project team is able to evaluate and rank the thirty selected banking websites. A binary scoring system was used to create a report card for the individual banks. Banks were given a score of either “1” or “0” (see Appendix for results) for each attribute prescribed by the ideal banking website template. A score of “1” was given to sites that offered the attribute and “0” when not available or in cases where a determination could not be made. An overall score was then determined for each bank by summing the attribute scores. The project team then ranked the individual bank websites by overall score. The bank with the highest score received the highest ranking. Additionally, banks were qualitatively evaluated on their strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of current and potential customers. The qualitative reviews are detailed in the Bank Analysis sections of the report. Lastly, the project team recorded the time spent researching and evaluating each banking site. The analysis for each bank site is discussed in detail in the next section, report card data for each bank is located the Appendix. 8
  11. 11. IV. Bank Analysis 1. Bank of America - Webpage design, style and appearance are all of excellent quality on the Bank of America’s website. The use of red, white and blue colors and small unassuming graphics and text contribute to a well laid out homepage coupled with clearly defined banking search tools, distinctly defined modules focusing users to bank services available, while impressing a strong sense of security, ease, and free usage. Extensive online help and interactive demos are clearly marked. Current customers are able to immediately log on to their accounts; view all accounts on one page, and transact the full range of banking services available. Customers can easily scan the page to identify branch & ATM locations, reset passwords/ login ID, and get support with privacy/security concerns. Video tutorials walk customers through a step by step instructional program to acquaint users with the various online banking features. Navigation tools permit users to skip through the topics quickly minimizing the time spent on unnecessary topics and return to their banking needs. Potential customers can easily survey the site and identify products and services available. “Open account” hyperlinks on the main page connects the user to a page charting the full suite of banking products offered with detailed side by side comparison descriptions laying out the features and requirement of banking product. Bank of America offers users the ability to have an instant message discussion with customer service at any point to answer questions or concerns about new accounts or online banking services. This site is extremely user friendly and online feature rich. Total Score: 60 Time Spent: 60 min 9
  12. 12. 2. Chase - Simplistic in design, the Chase bank homepage is easy to navigate and clearly delineated by product offerings, website news, and online banking capabilities. Graphics are used to place an emphasis on the websites security or to display a sense of technical sophistication. Banking information is easy to find and detailed banking product descriptions are only one click away. Chase bank provides current and potential users with several tools to help ensure a positive banking experience. Online banking demonstrations are clear, to the point, and presented in an interactive fashion. The user can skip unnecessary topics and explore functionality at their own pace. Guidance tools help customers select the products that best meets their needs or explore banking features previously unused. Customers are able to customize several aspects of their day to day banking via tools online; ATM QuickChoice allows users to set default bank machine preferences (fast cash withdrawal amount, receipt printing options, language), or Personalized Alerts (automated mobile/email alerts containing security warning and daily account notifications). Customer service contact information is easily available on the website from any page. Customers can contact a bank representative via e-mail, telephone, or find branch locations for in person trouble resolution. The site however, is strategically designed to provide current and potential customers with all the information necessary to resolve predictable concerns online without the need for intervention from a customer service representative. Chase bank has developed a feature rich full service online banking site using a simple web design and abundant online support tools. Total Score: 60 Time Spent: 60 min 10
  13. 13. 3. Wells Fargo Bank - The bank offers a superb online banking site and is rated among other top performers such as Bank of America, Citibank, etc. Fraud prevention and online security along with account services are highlighted on the website’s main page right beneath the login window. Other resourceful information and various products and services that Wells Fargo has to offer are displayed with some advertisements to make the site look colorful and attractive to the users. The site offers the text and other information to be displayed in Spanish with just one click on the top right corner. If someone is looking to apply for online banking and wants to save the information in order to finish up the application at a later date, the site allows you to do so. Once logged in to the account, the customer can view all the accounts (including loans, brokerage, etc.) on the “Account Summary” page. From there, the user can view the account activity, spending report (that summarizes the spending from checking account, check card, credit card and bill pay service into an easy-to-use report whereby, you can see how and where you spend your money) and perform several other functions. The site also allows the user to set up and receive electronic bills similar to what Wachovia has to offer. Customers can search for other products and services while logged in to their account as well. In addition, users have the ability to order foreign currency, travelers’ cheques, gift cards, etc. Visitors seeking to perform online banking can browse through the site that contains all the essential information they need as there are online tours available to assist them in learning about online banking, spending report feature, etc. The website seems to be effectively designed for a prospective user to explore. Total Score: 59 Time Spent: 45 min 11
  14. 14. 4. Citibank - The wealth of features that Citibank’s site offers is just exceptional. With an excellent balance of text, graphics, bank advertisements and pictures, it allows a user to find the information with very few clicks compared to its peers. Citibank website allows you to bank from your computer or mobile device without having to visit or call the branch for most day to day transactions. The availability of 24/7 customer service via email or chat allows you to get answers to your questions or resolve matters without much inconvenience. The site offers links to various financial tools and resources within the site and outside, allowing users to get the information they are seeking without going through the typical search engines. Current users can perform a variety of additional tasks in addition to the standard online banking functions such as applying for loans, credit cards, etc., linking and transferring funds between external accounts (domestic and international) of their own and others in their households, enjoying protection against unauthorized transactions in their account, etc. One of the features that hardly any other bank site offered is rewards for online banking from Citibank. With the amount of features that the site offers, one can perform a search to see if a feature is available or look it up on the website’s site map that, in our opinion, is very well laid out. With all the above mentioned banking features along with unparalleled security section, any potential customer looking to open an account at Citibank would definitely be appreciative of the site’s functionality. There is a lot of useful and in-depth information available to users to explore on the site. When a user accesses the Citibank’s main page, heshe is exposed to a variety of information in such a fashion that it encompasses all aspects of online banking without leaving the user to be lost. Total Score: 59 Time Spent: 60 min 12
  15. 15. 5. Wachovia Bank - Wachovia’s website very carefully laid out with the login, security information, and bank locations lookup on the far left, various products and services in the middle and search and online functionality for business groups on the far right of the bank’s homepage. The text, colors and graphics are well balanced making the site pleasing to view. In addition to the online banking demo, a section on “Learn more” about the online banking is available for users to gain an understanding of this fast growing area of banking. The vast resources available on Wachovia’s website are truly noteworthy – from online banking services to retirement, brokerage, insurance, investing products and services to various tools, newsletters, articles, etc. for each of these products. Once a customer signs in to his account, heshe can view all the accounts on “My Accounts” page from where different features for each of the accounts can be accessed. One of the strengths that no other bank offered was the ability to view and consolidate all your online accounts – whether it is bank accounts, portfolios, loans, and even your frequent flyer rewards, emails for both your Wachovia and non-Wachovia online accounts. In addition, current users can set up to receive e-bills directly to your Bill Pay screen from where you make the payments. Not only that, they can also set up reminders to help track when their bills are due including the e-bills that you have set up to receive online. One of the drawbacks of the site is the inability to customize “My Accounts” page view. Prospective users can review overall account features, apply online, or contact customer service right from the main page. Mobile banking is a newly added feature that seems to attract new customers. Total Score: 55 Time Spent: 45 min 13
  16. 16. 6. Washington Mutual Bank - With one fourth of the site’s page covered with advertisements and remainder of the site with simple, yet discrete layout, this site appears to be well groomed. On the top right corner of the site, one can find three font sizes that allow users to switch from a small or medium or large text size. The website design is very user friendly and not cluttered with too much information on the homepage unlike some of the other large banking sites. The site offers online banking guarantee as some of the other large banks do, whereby a user is covered for fraudulent and unauthorized transactions. The site also provides “Bank-tionary” for users trying to find information or meanings for banking words. In addition to viewing and accessing the bank accounts, loans, etc, current users enjoy the feature of viewing more than a year’s transaction history and 7 years of statements, which is far more than what most of the other online banks usually offer. Customers who initiate their payments four business days before the due date using the online bill payment are backed by the “On Time Guarantee” feature that covers them for any delay in payments being made beyond the due date. If a potential user is seeking to navigate the features, the site has an online tutorial that goes through each of the features along with the respective screens as well as a demo where a person presents the features the site has to offer and how to sign up from the convenience of your home. The website is very effective for those seeking to explore their options with online banking along with some great features a site has to offer. Total Score: 55 Time Spent: 40 min 14
  17. 17. 7. PNC Bank - Website design is bright and attractive; the banks colors orange and blue are integrated well into the site and emphasize the PNC brand. Pictures are used appropriately to commutate an effective message at a glance; supporting text is included to remove any possible ambiguity of its meaning. PNC Bank banner ads are displayed at the top of the page and scroll continuously although slightly annoying not completely distractive. Bank service and products are grouped logically, text descriptions are tightly grouped but subtlety delineated with dotted underling for easy readability. Site search features, customer service/contact information, and interactive demonstration tools are all easily identifiable. Finding “Getting started” account setup links are obvious and easy to follow. Additionally, PNC Bank offers Spanish speaking customer’s information in Spanish. Current and potential customers may have some difficulty finding loan and rate information. Isolating mortgage and home equity rates required several drill down clicks. However, customer service is always available and most in depth web pages list a 24/7 customer representative contact number. Shopping for bank products is made simple with PNC bank’s comparison tools. This service allows the user to select the products he/she has the most interest in, the website then builds a comparison table of the products allowing the user to easily identify the pos and cons of each offering. Online banking is Quicken compatible making tracking, budgeting, tax data, and investment planning much simpler. PNC Bank’s Quick switch feature removes the difficulties associated with changing banks. New customers are able to easily redirect deposits, update automatic payments, and closing undesired accounts effortlessly. Total Score: 53 Time Spent: 30 min 15
  18. 18. 8. HSBC Bank USA - HSBC online bank is very well organized and has an excellent overall layout, which makes it easy for customers to find information. Prospective customers can find out more detail about a service or product by reading related information or they can watch a demo. Products such as checking or saving accounts are described in a quick overview format with fees and features illustrated based on different classifications. In order to logon to the website, customers have to use a security key along with the password that provides extra layer of security. In addition, register feature gives customers online versions of checkbook that helps to categorize transaction entries and reconcile balances. Also, with “Easy View” customers can view their HSBC and non-HSBC accounts such as yahoo mail, headline news, track travel rewards on a single page with just one password. Current and potential customers can also find information on non-banking products such as insurance, tax-related services, investments, and international services. For instance, they can obtain auto-insurance quotes directly from HSBC website. HSBC can further enhance its customer services by offering online chat. Because of their global presence, they should offer more integration with international services such as currency exchange and wire transfer. Total Score: 49 Time Spent: 60 min 16
  19. 19. 9. KeyBank - KeyBank website has a well structured layout with white background that makes font standout more. Although, it is content heavy but the entire format makes information easy to find. Availability of frequently accessed modules such as online banking, apply now, and locations on the main page saves time by eliminating several mouse clicks and provide quick navigation. Online videos and guided tours provide information about bank’s different products especially their home buyer video and home equity video are great instructional resources. For current customers, KeyBank has many unique and useful features. For example, customers can do domestic and international wire transfer from their account. In addition, customers can connect to partner websites to order Traveler’s cheques, gift cheques, and foreign currency. They can quickly setup bill payment, sort transactions based on categories, generate graphs and reports from their account. Furthermore, they have several online tools like calculators specific to stock related transactions. They also provide links to non-banking related websites such as Equifax where customers can find out their credit score. Customers can also set default main page according to their user group. Prospective customers can find essential information on closing their existing accounts at other banks and transferring them over to KeyBank. They can also find contact information for product related queries. Total Score: 48 Time Spent: 60 min 17
  20. 20. 10. Sovereign Bank - Sovereign online bank has performed evenly across all five categories. Advertisements take a considerable portion of the main page and that should be adjusted to increase font size. Browsing and navigating to different areas of the website is really convenient. The right side panel on each page enables users to learn more about a subject by accessing related resources, access accounts, next steps, and customer service queries. Instructions are easy to understand and highlights what is needed before enrolling for a particular service. They have considerable number of links to external resources and that makes them one of the best in the availability of information sector. In order to take it to the next level, they should give insurance quotes directly from their website. Current customers can benefit from self-service resources by submitting various online forms such as requesting copy of cancelled check, statements, and 1099 requests. Nevertheless, in order to change mailing address they would need to download a form and mail it. Before logging on, users are prompted to verify pre-selected images in addition to regular password, thus making banking experience more secure. Users can also change their login preference based on what they would like to see first. Also, different icons based on payment methods provide an easy way to understand transactions. Total Score: 47 Time Spent: 50 min 18
  21. 21. 11. Commerce Bank - Simple, yet offering a rich functionality, Commerce Bank’s website seems to attract individual customers with its good mix of multimedia. The site offers traditional online banking characteristics supplemented with other products such as loans, investments, insurance, etc. Mixture of blue, red and white is used in a very creative way making the website very informational and appealing, yet not too overcrowded. The bank’s stock price along with major indexes’ prices appears on the “Stock Watch” section on the bottom of the site. Finding a bank location & ATM and answers to some frequently asked questions are available right on the site’s homepage. Once logged in to your account, the user is able to view the account balance along with various functions he/she can use such as setting up and managing transfers, bill pay, alerts and other services. The service center contains 3 main categories to the existing user – inquiries & service requests, message center and adding additional products and services which appears to be user friendly. One of the downsides of the website is that it goes through maintenance each night (sometime around midnight) which is very inopportune for any user looking to login to their account at late night to perform any transaction or simply view their account balance. Any prospective customer looking to explore the features that the site offers can do so from the personal banking webpage link where online banking demo, information on other accounts such as money market, CDs, IRAs, etc. is available in addition to other products and services. If you are looking for a website that contains standard and some additional features (without the complexity of finding them), Commerce bank’s online banking is a good fit. Total Score: 47 Time Spent: 45 min 19
  22. 22. 12. Fifth Third Bank - The website uses a blend of green, blue and black colors to display the text which makes the website attractive but large bank advertisements for gift cards, home equity lines and such are a bit distraction. The site permits the user to log in or explore the site right from the homepage where an array of other products and services are exhibited along with information on security, bank locations, site map, etc. One of the features that the site offers is the planning center where abundant information on college planning, retirement, buying home, changing jobs, etc. can be found. The current customer can login directly from the site’s homepage and access the account summary page that provides a snapshot of their financial position – checking, savings, credit card, mortgage, brokerage and other accounts held at the Fifth Third Bank. The user can manage and perform checking and savings account transactions in addition to viewing information about credit card, equity lines, etc. and even accessing it using Quicken or Microsoft Money. The multiple payments option allows customers to pay one or several payees in addition to viewing prior payments made to them. Prospective users can view the interactive video and internet banking demos to get familiarized with the online banking. Once a user has obtained their ATM card and PIN number, accessing the online banking is just a few clicks away as there are no forms to fill out and there is no waiting period to gain access. Total Score: 46 Time Spent: 50 min 20
  23. 23. 13. - Huntington online bank has a fresh look with a clear format. It has a good overall layout and nice color schemes. Prospective customer can quickly and easily find information about different products and compare them with each other. Customer service is available in the form of email, FAQ’s, and service specific phone numbers. Also, tools such as financial and business calculator can be helpful when planning for retirement, college saving, or purchasing a house. Huntington’s current customers take advantage of online banking by monitoring their spending in categorized format. Reports can be generated based on budget, tax based transactions, and cash flow. When the customer has a question about a transaction, heshe can directly send a message to customer service. All send and receive messages are displayed on one page. It integrates well with financial software such as Microsoft Money and Quicken. Huntington should minimize product promotion on the main page. Instead, that space should be utilized to emphasize product categories. Menus on top section should be formulated so that they become obvious and easy to find. Online chat can help enhance customer service by instantly resolving any problems. Additionally, receiving bills directly on the website will be convenient for customers. Total Score: 44 Time Spent: 45 min 21
  24. 24. 14. First National Bank Omaha - The website appears to be very similar in design and format to that of the Fifth Third Bank. The advertisements seem to be brighter than they need to be but smaller compared to those on the Fifth Third Bank. The user has the ability to access various online services, look up product information and browse through the useful tools, resources and services right from the online banking login page. The login for this site is a bit distinct from most of the other online banking websites. The current user is prompted for entering their user name at the login screen after which he/she is taken to the page where a personal message (that has been initially created by the user) is shown to the user to verify before entering their password for account access. This serves as an extra layer of security when logging in to the account. Once logged in, similar to many other sites, this website displays the last 4 digits of the customer’s account numbers’ only for security purposes. Other than viewing accounts and bill payment services, the site offers other account services and financial tools such as calculators, financial guides, newsletters, etc. from the account summary screen. Any user looking to get a feel of the website can attain that from the web demo available right from the homepage without having to browse through the website. The demo provides descriptions and screen shots that give users an insight at what the First National Bank Omaha has to offer for online banking. In addition, the demo has two viewing formats – one, where potential users go through each section in an order without having to click on anything and the other, where they can set the pace for review of the sections giving more control. The site itself is conveniently displayed and appears to be comprehensible. Total Score: 44 Time Spent: 45 min 22
  25. 25. 15. Affinity Federal Credit Union - The website design is very effective, information is easy to locate and available via several methods from the main webpage. The site uses several colors to demark the functional sections of the page. Text is readable although a bit cluttered, however reverse contrast text is used well to alleviate some of the visual noise. Graphics and art are supportive and helpful in communicating the desired message to user. The main page allows current customers to directly login in to their accounts, search the site, locate ATM/branch locations, see bank rate information at a glance, use financial calculators, get financial planning advice, or get customer service. Current and potential customers can easily use the web site to get information on all the banking products Affinity offers, including retirement investment and insurance products. A strong emphasis is placed on customer service; contact information is clearly listed, online chat with customer representatives is available, as well as interactive online banking demonstrations. Affinity does not offer a few advanced online banking tools such as; email alerts, mobile banking access, or aggregate banking account information. Current customers can address all their banking and financial needs via the Affinity website. Customers can utilize online banking to transfer money between accounts, pay bills, apply for loans, use financial tools, and even deposit funds up to $1,500 online. Potential customers are able to quickly determine the services Affinity has to offer, get product specific detailed information, apply for accounts or loans online, and receive any customer support needed. The structure and functionality of the Affinity web site supports a positive banking atmosphere for potential and current customers. Total Score: 44 Time Spent: 30 min 23
  26. 26. 16. US Bank - Security and Services are two areas where US Bank demonstrates edge over other banks. While browsing the site, customers would come across several security links that give feeling of assurance and confidence. Drop down menus are neatly organized on both sides of the page making it easier for customers to reach their target. The entire website is not centrally aligned, therefore leaving empty space on the right side. It is difficult to read contents especially top and bottom menus as font size is too small. Interactive slide presentations give customers feeling as if they are present at an actual bank. By looking at screenshots of sample activities, prospective customers can get first hand experience of online banking. Their product specific 24/7 customer service ensures that someone will always be there to assist and answer any questions. Because of their limited physical presence, they should extend their ATM search to bring any bank that is closest to the location. One of the great features US Bank’s customers enjoy is that they can view all their accounts i.e. credit account, deposit account, investment account on a single page. With cash advance function, customers can take out money from their credit account or from other direct deposit accounts and move them into their checking account. Also, they can apply for new loans or credit line increase directly from their account. In addition, customers can easily see details on checks by switching to different formats such as reverse black and white or zoom and they can also print and save. Other online banking features such as e-bill, transfer, integration with financial software are also at their disposal. Total Score: 41 Time Spent: 50 min 24
  27. 27. 17. Ameriprise - The Ameriprise banking website is attractive and arranged well; the page is easy to read, functional areas are separated effectively, account features are thoroughly described, and support is readily available. The primary colors used are blue and orange; they complement each other nicely and make the site appear crisp and clear. Background shading is used to setup contrast for different functional areas and to offset text in large tables for improved readability. Some art and graphics are used on the site however; pictures are generally cosmetic and used to add a sense of financial stability to the bank. Rollover tabs open dropdown sub-menus on the page permitting the user to see additional information without having to drill down further into the site, a convenient tool for new or potential users who are not familiar with the Ameriprise website. Customer service links and contact numbers are displayed predominately on the page. Current and potential customers can review overall account features at a glance, apply online, or contact customer service as necessary. The website gives each bank product classification its own dedicated page on the site. All the individual product offerings within the classification are described and compared feature by feature so a user can determine which product suites their needs best. Online demonstration tools exist so potential customers are able to get an understanding for the look and feel of the Ameriprise user interface. Users still requiring assistance may contact customer service via email, telephone, or meet a representative local branch office. Although, the Ameriprise website is very effective at communicating reliability and ease of use; the online banking tools are slightly limited (for example, no mobile banking) due to the fact that their primary business centers around financial services. Total score: 40 Time Spent: 45 min 25
  28. 28. 18. E*Trade - E*Trade has evenly distributed content with some strong security features. It has dull color schemes and non-uniform layout; particularly some of the useful menus are listed at the bottom of the page, which is contrary to normal convention. It has performed average in availability of information and convenience categories. It warrants improvement in online functionality and service areas. For prospective customers, the comparison on current yields shown on the main page is not meaningful as it does not display competitor’s information. Also, the website lacks interactive demos/tutorials that can help in explaining different products to new customers. They should improve their ATM search engine so that it not only brings E*Trade branches, but also any bank that is close to the location. For current customers, it shows all service related information on a single page. One of the useful features is the ability to track all service requests, ask questions, locate tutorials, and other similar functions directly from a portal. Furthermore, they can see images of their checks as well as deposits from their accounts. They can also use their brokerage account to perform online banking, thereby giving more financial control to make the most out of cash between investments. In addition, E*Trade Digital Security ID provides a unique and enhanced security measures to online banking. E-trade customers receive a digital card that displays a new PIN every 60 seconds. Furthermore, their quick and easy money transfer service to and from any financial institutions is really convenient. Total Score: 38 Time Spent: 40 min 26
  29. 29. 19. EverBank - Webpage design is tabular and well delineated; earth tone colors are used to offset functional areas on the page distinguishing the sections of content. Banking rates are predominately displayed on virtually every webpage of the EverBank website. Text is small and difficult to read and generally offset against a white background. Rollover dropdown tabs reveal subsection link topics allowing users to easily identify and drill down to the desired information. Products and customer service links are easily identified however; the resulting information is difficult to see at a glance and requires the user to read through cluttered text containing several sub notes to find the information they require. On site help is limited to pdf instruction documents and pop-up answers to canned questions, some of which require the user to scroll down through several screens of plain text to get an answer. Customer service is available either via telephone or website form email. Current customers can log in directly from the EverBank website home page to access their account information and conduct online banking transactions and find ATM locations. Financial tools and calculators help customers evaluate several loan scenarios and determine foreign currency exchanges. Unfortunately, prospective customers are given limited to zero visibility into the look and feel of the EverBank online banking experience. Users can not review demonstrations of the online banking interface and it is difficult to understand what exact services are available. For example; EverBank offers aggregate account information for non-EverBank accounts, yet a potential customer looking for this service may rule out EverBank as a provider because it is not an obvious feature. The EverBank website while functional is not optimally user friendly. Total Score: 36 Time Spent: 45 min 27
  30. 30. 20. First Internet Bank of Indiana - First Internet Bank of Indiana has performed well in service category because of their wide range of online services to current customers. They can redeem CDs, dispute fees/ATM transactions, stop/cancel/reorder checks, close account, request increase in credit limit, add joint account holder directly from their account. Current and potential customers can find out if bank’s maintenance schedule is suitable to their access hours. They can use the search function to lookup any information or click on contact us to chat with customer service specialists. However, the website design makes it difficult to navigate and find desired information. For instance, menus on the left panel should also be available on top section and they should also display sub-categories. The font size makes it harder to read available information. Because of these factors, the website received fewer points in convenience category. Prospective customers can learn more about bank’s services by viewing an interactive demo. Nevertheless, they can not search ATMs or branch locations on the site. In contrast, current customers can lookup ATM locations to make a deposit and they can print deposit slips as well. Considering its exclusive online presence, it should offer customer service 24/7. On security front, they need to re-evaluate some of their processes to ensure current and potential customers are confident with their online banking experience. Total Score: 35 Time Spent: 40 min 28
  31. 31. 21. Sun National Bank - Sun National Bank is a small regional bank offering basic online banking with mediocre functionality. Even though the site offers branch locations and other resources right from the login homepage, the text size displayed is smaller compared to other websites and as a result, it renders the site a bit less tasteful to explore. In addition, the advertisements cover nearly half of the website which leaves very little room for essential information for any user to view. Moreover, there is no online banking demo available to any new users to become acquainted with the online banking features the bank has to offer. One of the strengths that this regional bank site offers is availability of intraday transactions that affect a customer’s available account balance. Such transactions appear in the account’s history screen identified by “Memo” appearing in the date field that have been authorized or submitted but not yet posted to the account. Most of the other small banks generally do not display such information until it has been finalized and posted to the individual’s account. The site offers “Switch Kit Planner” – a pdf template that can be printed and used to keep a new user organized when switching to Sun National Bank’s online banking. Moreover, the absence of online banking demo and an ordinary lay out of the site deprive the prospective user from scanning through the site and looking at the features that the bank may have to offer. In general, the site needs to be a bit more creative, attractive and informational with appropriate links to resources and tools for prospective customers. Total Score: 35 Time Spent: 30 min 29
  32. 32. 22. Cape Savings Bank - Another small community bank that offers basic online banking features is Cape Savings Bank. The website’s layout is simple and straightforward as expected. The use of minimal bank advertisements allows any current or prospective user to browse through the website without much hassle. However, plain and simple text with some font styles is all what one can see on the site, creating a poor balance between graphics and text usage. Being a small bank, specific contact information is available to contact bank personnel but if someone is looking for driving directions or maps to the bank, he/she might want to use sites such as Mapquest, Google maps, etc. When a current customer logs in, he/she is brought to the account summary page by default, but such view can be changed by switching to a different layout such as reports, bill payment, etc. In addition, another feature that the site offers is enhanced security to current computer or all computers, which we believe was one of the main features this site had to offer beside basic online banking. Although, email alerts are the only medium available at this time, the site does expect to have the mobile alerts and banking available sometime in the future. Online bill payment seems to be the only demo that is available on the bank’s site as the online banking demo is not functional. This limits a potential user to navigate through the features the bank might have to offer. Any potential user who is looking for a website that provides an array of features is likely to choose some other bank than Cape Savings due to its poor multimedia and limited information availability (website itself does not display information to be readily accessible due to poor webpage design). Total Score: 35 Time Spent: 40 min 30
  33. 33. 23. Schwab Bank - Site design is tabular in structure, delineated into functional areas. Little color is used and no graphics or advertisements are present on the page. The home page is simple and basically a direct portal into a current customer’s bank account. As a result the page is dominated by the “Account Login” field with a small “New Account” application link underneath. Some page space is used to list new features and a simple description of the various Schwab products. A “More” information hyperlinks can be followed if a user requires more in-depth product level detail. Current customers have access to online bill pay services and home financing products and tools. An account and mortgage interest rate table is available however it is difficult to read due to font size and poor design layout. The bank does not offer advanced online banking service such as account activity email alerts, mobile banking, budgeting tools/spending reports, or banking rewards. Current and potential customers have little online customer service options; help is limited to frequently asked questions and assistance from customer service representatives via the telephone. New customers will not generally be attracted to Schwab bank based on the bank’s online banking services or web design. Schwab’s online banking functions are not as robust as others within the industry and customer service is almost nonexistent. Banking services appear to be a complement to Schwab’s investor services and not intended to serve as a full feature consumer bank with web enabled customer service and advance banking tools. Several links within the website link users to the Charles Schwab Brokerage website. Total Score: 35 Time Spent: 30 min. 31
  34. 34. 24. Boardwalk Bank - The website’s layout is very simple and straightforward. The use of blue and black text on a white background makes the website somewhat dull compared to other online banking sites. Since Boardwalk bank is a small community bank serving the southern New Jersey area, the features available on the site are limited to a few basic ones such as online bill pay, transfers, viewing history and so forth. For a current user, the site allows them to log in and perform online banking from one screen that lists the various accounts held at this bank. If one had to look up the branch and ATM locations, they are limited to address, telephone numbers and operation hours information only – no maps, driving directions are available. In addition, the site does not allow to set-up future transfers. One can view all their accounts held at this bank on the account access page but to apply for such accounts, it must be done via mail or in person such as applying for a loan must be done at the bank’s office. Any potential user looking to bank through the Boardwalk Bank’s website can view the features and how they can perform online banking through the test demo. It was noted that the demo does not resemble a typical online banking video tutorial demo. Rather, this demo allows the potential user to navigate through the various screens as if he/she were a current user, thereby, allowing them to set up dummy bill payments, alerts, view transactions, etc. In addition, it provides a description of what the screen and each feature listed on it entails. This website is perfect for those looking to perform online banking just to view their accounts, pay bills online and appreciate its simplicity. If you are looking for advance online banking features, this banking website is not ideal for such purpose. Total Score: 33 Time Spent: 30 min 32
  35. 35. 25. Presidential Bank - Website design is rudimentary and slightly distracting/confusing. A user gets a feeling of information overload upon entering the site, due to several styles of cramped text, several color schemes, and mismatched textured backgrounds. Banking rate advertisements dominate the page supported by animated flashing graphs, another contributor to the sites overall clutter. The site is divided into several functional sections with multiple scrolling windows within the page causing the page to scroll awkwardly when attempting to scan the page for information. Customer service information is available on the main page via email or telephone. Current users must click a login button on the main page to get access to the login page and then choose from several online banking functions before an account login field appears, granting the user access to their account information. Logged in customers are then able to transact online banking business, customize some simple banking features, apply for loans, or determine branch locations. Potential customers have the ability to review frequently asked questions, compare banking rates, product features, test the sites online banking simulation tool, or open an account online. New accounts are easily opened by following a link on any page to the bank’s one page application form. Additionally, Presidential Bank offers investment services through a third party provider Clarendon Securities, a link is provided redirecting the user. Several important online banking features are missing from the site including. financial planning tools, calculators, ATM location finder, and mobile banking tools. Total Score: 32 Time Spent: 50 min 33
  36. 36. 26. Provident Bank NJ - Provident Bank NJ’s website has an unorthodox layout with disperse information all across the page. A large advertisement, which is placed in the middle, does not load properly and makes it difficult to find content. There is no clear distinction between different sections of a page and there is no concept of menus. Customers who are interested in opening a CD account or savings account will not be able to find interest yield information. The website lacks details and descriptions of different products. For example, if someone likes to get more detail about checking account, they have to click on a tabular link that is not intuitive at first sight. Similarly, finding more information on a topic or locating external references is not readily available. They should make their website more interactive and add multimedia such as online demo or videos. To their credit, they are one of the few banks with links to fees structure. Also, the section on financial assistance has some good web tools such as rent vs. buy calculator and college saving calculator. Current customers who receive social security payments can set up direct deposit online. Online banking is available to current customers but there is no information on type of services available to them. There is a link to an interesting feature known as Remote Deposit, but there is no explanation on what it is supposed to do. Total Score: 31 Time Spent: 55 min 34
  37. 37. 27. Valley National Bank - Valley National Bank’s website has a cluttered layout with inconsistent template across different pages. The extra space on each side of the main page could have been utilized for providing more information for prospective customers. Color combination on the website makes it difficult to read menus and gives an unprofessional feel. Extensive graphics and large product advertisement makes it extremely unattractive. Even though, it has a good overview of privacy and security information, it needs to undergo a major overhaul to compete against top banks. Prospective customers can gain information about different products by accessing links on main page. Online Demo is not easy to find and it requires some technical expertise to understand various features and products. There is no option to open an online account, which could be a big turn away for potential clients. Also, it does not have current CDs and saving interest rates anywhere on the website. Surprisingly, new customers can apply for loans directly through the website. Mortgage seekers can find information and interest rates on the main page. Current customers can benefit from online banking by paying bills, checking account balances, transfer money, and download statements into Microsoft money and Quicken. They can setup notifications based on different types of balance states. There is a Co-Browse feature, which looks interesting but there is no information on how it functions. Total Score: 30 Time Spent: 40 min 35
  38. 38. 28. Ascencia Bank - Website design is basic and looks less professional in comparison to other online banking web pages. The site’s use of solid flat colors without shading or blending is reminiscent of early web design. Plain text is used with only bolding or italics enhancements, rectangle straight line borders are used to offset topics. All sub web- pages are over crowded with text and generally information can not be ascertained in a glance. Additionally, the main page is also missing several standard features generally available to customers within the industry including; site search field, direct account login field, bank contact information, ATM/branch location tools, and rollover topic dropdown subfields. However, a current customer well acquainted with Ascencia may appreciate the simplistic web design and lack of advertisements. Once a current customer is logged onto the site they are able to see a list of their current accounts listed by account number, and conduct banking as needed. Again, the user interface is very simple and straight forward. Online customer service is very limited as well. Only a list of frequently asked questions and answers are provided to help customers resolve problems, issues not listed or unresolved issues must be addressed by a bank representative via telephone or email. Potential customers must surf through most of the site in order to develop a strong understanding of Ascencia product offerings. Although, they do provide an online banking demonstration tool to get new users familiar with the sites banking interface. The “Open Account” hyperlinks could be better presented and easier to identify. Banking rate information is customer friendly and can be determined with little effort. In general, the Ascencia site is feature and customer service limited. Total Score: 30 Time Spent: 45 min 36
  39. 39. 29. Bank of Hawaii - Design of home page is busy and slightly distracting. Bank service ads and offers continually cycle across the top of the page. Blue text is used predominately against a white background which is difficult to read due to the large amount of text used and small font size. Orange and red text is used additionally to offset important links although again slightly distracting. Accented icons are well-designed and effectively help guide the user where appropriate. Art is limited in use but confusing as to its purpose. Bank products are listed by function in bulleted list on the center of the page with hyperlinks to more information. Select banking rates are predominantly listed for easy identification. Bank of Hawaii’s site is very customer service friendly. Current customers are provided online and telephone assistance at the top of every webpage, and allow the customer to setup a return call from a bank representative. Financial planning tools for budgeting, retirement planning, home buying, and loan calculators are easily accessed from the main page and continue to be displayed on each successive webpage. Online banking features including mobile banking tools are clearly defined and easy to setup. Potential customers are also treated to a very customer service focused online atmosphere. The bank has created interactive demonstration simulations for several of their online banking tools including mobile banking and general online banking. These simulations give customers the ability to actually try out the related services in a truly interactive environment. The demos should attract potential customers to the bank. Bank of Hawaii’s strong customer service emphasis and online product simulations more then makes up for any clutter associated with information overload. Total Score: 30 Time Spent: 45 min 37
  40. 40. 30. North Fork Bank - North Fork Bank has a decent overall layout but needs to improve its online banking functionality. Information is more readily available for current customers as compared to potential customer. For instance, current customers can enroll for online banking, whereas potential customers have to visit a bank to open an account. Mortgages and consumer loans can not be applied via online thus making banking experience more inclined toward brick and mortar style. Colors and menus are in par with normal convention, but excessive advertisements and graphics offset overall design. Demo of online bill payment and online banking is not constructed properly making it difficult to understand if the two are linked together for customers. Users can obtain information on insurance and brokerage services, but they can not obtain quotes or apply online. Current customers can perform several tasks such as stop payment, loan payment, and transfer money from their online portal. They can also add payee and setup recurrence for online billing. A nice feature available to current customer is that they can view pie graph of their activities. Also, they can customize start page to display most important information according to customer’s preference. They have to add more features to online banking in order to compete with other ranked banks. Similarly, they have to make it more convenient and user friendly. Total Score: 23 Time Spent: 40 min 38
  41. 41. V. Conclusion As expected none of the 30 banking websites reviewed matched the ideal banking template exactly. However, several banking sites did contain the majority of the attributes prescribed and offered services and features beyond simple online banking. In terms of security, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo offered all the template attributes required for an ideal banking website. As far as convenience is concerned, Bank of America, Chase and Wachovia ranked the best, providing users with superior, easy to use, site navigation and search tools. Wells Fargo, Citibank, Washington Mutual, HSBC and Commerce offered the highest ranked online functionality, providing demonstration tools, excellent site design (balance of texts and graphics), and personal site preference customization opposed to default views provided on the majority of online banking websites. All of the banks reviewed provide basic online account services however, Bank of America, Chase and Citibank standout as industry leaders by providing enhanced online account services prescribed by the ideal template. Lastly, under the element of information availability most banking sites rank very well, keeping banking information, products, and customer contact information readily available on their sites. Finally, the highest overall score awarded of 60 (max possible 64) went to Bank of America and Chase, resulting in a tie. Lastly, the project team has drawn several conclusions based on observations made during the banking site analysis pertaining to; the size and etymology of the bank. Large banks constantly had well designed, feature rich websites that stressed products and services while simultaneously emphasizing the bank’s branding. Additionally, larger banks have invested resources in customer service channels, such as online video demonstrations, service simulation tools, and advanced online documentation help tools. 39
  42. 42. By promoting these online customer service solutions larger banks have reduced their human capital costs spent on service representatives and still provide high levels of customer service. Small banks generally have well designed websites however; a conscience attempt to brand the bank’s image via the site is not apparent. Interestingly, smaller banks generally have unique services unavailable at bigger banks including, auto leasing programs or health savings accounts. The focus of customer service at smaller institutions is also at a more personal level and direct customer service interaction is encouraged. Banking websites are also strongly influenced by the bank’s origin. Brick and mortar banks have a different feel than exclusively online banks. Branch and ATM locations need to be stressed for obvious reasons on B&M sites, yet these banks also use their physical presence to promote convenience and reliability. Exclusively, online banks tend to stress their low cost solutions to promote and attract customers. A distinct third version of online bank also exists in the form of a brokerage banking account. Brokerage firms have started to offer traditional banking services to their investor clients. This strategy works in two ways; first current customers can keep all of their financial data in a signal repository and eliminate the need for multiple accounts. Second, the brokerage can attract novice or unlikely investors by allowing them to open banking accounts in the hopes of securing their future investment business. These hybrid sites consistently had the least amount of features and the poorest customer service tools; however they all without fail had links back to their more sophisticated main brokerage websites. In the future, we anticipate that with the improvement in technology, banks will offer more online services to attract customers. 40