Fintech and the Reality at Banks


In my Inbox, I get frequent emails about smart finance, hundreds of fintech startups in the ecosystem, some fintech startups raising multi-million dollars from VCs, banks showing their latest innovation and fintech centers.

I applied for a remortgage of my property recently (to help fund my entrepreneurial journey). The whole application process took several weeks despite the fact that this is a bank which I had several years of relationships with already including my payroll, credit card and existing mortgage.

By the end, I was asked to open a new account at the physical branch because their back office couldn’t do this. So I would say despite all the hype around smart/virtual banking, it appears physical branches are here to stay for a while.

When I was at the branch, I was told to go to the reception because the window that I usually go to do not deal with “new accounts” despite the fact that I am actually an existing customer. I have to somehow begin my relationship with them again as a new customer.

There is only one reception and the line is all over the place.

Finally, it was my turn and a junior staff answered. He was genuinely helpful but he was inexperienced so he made a few mistakes with the forms and photocopying.

When I was waiting, I overheard a lady complaining quite viciously on waiting for a long time. She was complaining that once she signed up for her insurance, the payment should not require her to come back to the branch to sign again. And she waited for so long that she went out and came back but found the only staff that could help went out for lunch (so somehow only 1 staff could help).

The junior guy I mentioned above kept apologising. His manners are truly amiable and I genuinely feel for him as it is clearly not his fault.

During this time, a more senior staff walked by and just pretended she didn’t see anything.

Finally, it was my turn at the window (the same window that told me to go to the reception first) and I asked why did they place a junior staff at the reception. The lady told me that because apparently there was no other experienced staff that would be willing to take the job so this poor guy was there to take all the brunt and got naively sold it was good training.

I was talking to another bank the other day. The guy was proudly saying that one of their latest achievements in innovation was being the first bank to have a special type of fingerprint ID, the name of which escapes me.

I am not a tech person but when I asked my tech friend, it basically meant if someone chopped off my finger and put that on the ID, it wouldn’t have worked where I am not going to try but assume the fingerprint ID for other banks would have worked.

I am not entirely sure the use case on this but I would imagine it to be quite rare so question it’s necessity.

Given the fact that we still have to do a lot of things at the physical branches, wouldn’t the resources be better spent at addressing that rather than being the first at something that probably not many people get to use?

Every now and then, I would get random calls from banks asking if I need a personal loan. I really wish banks can use their fintech centers to better filter customers doing this because it is really wasting peoples’ time most of the time and they are just damaging their client relationships or trying very hard to show they don’t give a shit. 

Anyway, I actually did try calling back once to ask for a personal loan but I somehow got to the credit card loan department and after some steps, they told me that what I was after was a personal loan so I had to call the personal lending department again because they do not deal with that. There must be a better way of treating a warm lead.

I appreciate the difficulties in migrating systems and the reforms involved but if banks are incapable of doing that, is all the fintech we are seeing any more than a hype?

And it is even more difficult to imagine banks can help us closer to achieving financial freedom or peace of mind especially those most in need of it. But isn’t that what they are trying to say to us when they are selling us their products?



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1 reply


  1. Banks go under because of Liquidity not Credit – The Banking to Startup Diary

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