Will the open bank revolution require a UX revolution?

August 9, 2016 5:04 pm

Will the open bank revolution require a UX revolution?

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have today published their final report, which highlights changes needed to ensure customers are not paying more than they should and can benefit from all services.

“Open Banking will enable personal customers and small businesses to share their data securely with other banks and with third parties, enabling them to manage their accounts with multiple providers through a single digital ‘app’, to take more control of their funds.”

Amongst other measures, one huge change from this is that all banks have to implement open banking by 2018. As a UX Practitioner many questions come to mind:

  • What does this mean?
  • How will this work?
  • Will this be a third party app for customers to access their multiple banking needs from?
  • Will existing banking apps allow customers to add accounts from other banks or services?

One app to rule them all

Banking apps have similar options but with features, interfaces and gestures that make them unique. There is an initiative jointly with industry and Government, including the Open Data Institute, to launch an ‘Open Banking Working Group’ driving innovation, developing initiatives and an open data standard.


Setting up mobile online banking obviously has its security steps, so how would one app cope with multiple security measures from multiple banks’ accounts at the same time? With iOS and the increased uptake of fingerprint ID, this may help users gain access to multiple accounts with a single sign-up. There are often steps to sign up and log-in with passcodes, customer IDs and passwords before the option of fingerprint ID is offered. The workflow of access will be interesting to user journey map from a front end perspective, but with a back-end security reality view.

Change control for channels

If one app existed that could be a platform for all the customer’s bank accounts, would banks still have their own app? If they did, this would become another channel to maintain in the growing number of customer touch points; web, mobile web, app, third party app. The experience will have to be tested for consistency across all of these, with a possibility of less control of the third party app.

Integrated experience

Assuming existing banking apps open up to allow viewing and functions for other banks or service providers accounts within their app, how much integration will be available? Will we be able to see and use multiple accounts from multiple banks within the same app?

UX Translation

You could argue that someone with multiple accounts will be familiar with the interfaces from each bank, but there is a danger for confusion. The usability of an interface is strongly tied to its learnability, and allowing additional functionality from other banks could force a fit – a bit like forcing a square peg into a round hole. Fully testing this additional functionality will allow the bank to understand whether there is learned behaviour lost in translation.

A vanilla experience

Consistency is important but each bank needs to maintain its identity and unique selling points to suit its customer base, otherwise we’re going to have multiple versions of the same app with a different skin.

The fight for the dominant app

If a multiple bank account holder can add accounts from other banks to any of their banking apps, which app will they choose to access all their accounts from? Helping with consistency and ensuring core functionality has the same labels is the first step, but striving to provide a better experience will help to differentiate the apps between each other.