North Bay banks beef up online presence to attract, keep customers
Digital banking is no longer an afterthought.
Banks now have to compete against each other plus outside software developers on who can provide the best banking services on customer desktops or in the palm of their hands. One of those outside software companies is called Emma.
Co-founded by CEO Edoardo Moreni, the United Kingdom-based app became available in the U.S. and Canada last month. The app allows consumers to track spending and subscriptions while setting budgeting and savings goals on their mobile devices.
“Our main realization is that the role of the bank is to provide financial products,” Moreni said, adding his app is intended to help users look after their financial health.
Partly in response to software like Emma, North Bay institutions are increasingly expanding and updating their offerings as an essential part of their customer service.
Novato-based Bank of Marin rolled out a new digital banking platform in June even while it announced it would close its downtown Petaluma branch as of Aug. 9, underscoring the primacy of a digital presence and the changing place of brick-and-mortar locations at the bank.
During a previous call to discuss quarterly results, Bank of Marin President and CEO Russell Colombo said its two other Petaluma locations are sufficient for that market and underscored it didn’t mean his bank was shifting focus.
“The reality is activity in branches has changed over the years,” Colombo said during that call. He added that more customers are using the bank’s digital capabilities as opposed to coming into branches.
“We don’t really need that many locations to serve that customer base because of technology changing the way people bank,” Colombo said of the closure.
Bank of Marin’s new platform allows for instant, person-to-person transfers of funds between most financial institutions, according to an email from Director of Marketing Andrea Henderson.
The platform’s Money Manager function allows consumers to link their Bank of Marin account with other financial service providers like banks, and credit card and brokerage companies.
“This allows our customers the ability to have a one-stop-shop for viewing balances and transactions across their various accounts,” Henderson wrote.
Person-to-person transfers are also a component of Redwood Credit Union’s online and mobile platforms. The function is instant between credit union members and takes about one day when transferring money to non-members according to Tony Hildesheim, Redwood’s chief information officer.
“We had members who were asking for more effective ways of banking with us,” Hildesheim said. He added the bank’s online and mobile platforms are intended to integrate seamlessly, so that, “anything you can do at the branch you can do in mobile and online.”
Account linking also appears to be a core offering for many financial institutions. Hildesheim said customers can download data from outside accounts into their app, but said third party services are a good alternative for doing that as it can become cluttered.
He added the technology does allow for categorization of spending and budget creation but that so far “We’re not seeing a lot of people use that as much.”