Onboarding: Revolut, KBC Ireland show the way

With one or two notable exceptions, traditional banks in the UK are doing a pretty dismal job at offering a great digital onboarding, argues Douglas Blakey


To be blunt, if new kid on the block Starling and store-focussed Metro Bank can enable applicants to submit proof of identity electronically, though smartphone or tablet, the incumbents should be able to offer a truly digital account opening experience.


It beggars belief that all banks are not yet able to offer biometrics that can enable KYC- and AML-compliant mobile onboarding.


The current UK account opening abandonment rates are staggering (link to feature 7: see The battle to onboard: consumers want digital Ids).


Despite all the time, money and energy being invested in digital and the desire to optimise the customer experience, UK banks continue to have an over-reliance on paper processes and a lack of digital identity. 40% of customers were giving up at this last step, frustrated.


Across Europe, 52% admit abandoning applications and in the UK it is even worse, at an estimated 56%.

Revolut hits 2 million customers

There are of course a number of notable exceptions. As RBI goes to press comes news that Revolut now has two million customers, an increase of 300% in the last year. Revolut has been breaking account opening records since it launched and can teach the incumbent banks, with far bigger tech budgets, a thing or two about digital onboarding.


When the writer opened a Revolut account recently, the entire exercise from downloading the app, proving identity and opening the account to completing a transaction took less than eight minutes.


By contrast, the editor of one of RBI’s sister titles wandered into the branch of one of the largest incumbent banks the other day, with his wife, to open a new joint account.


They had a quite a wait to see a branch rep; lengthy forms to complete; then a lengthy sales pitch; to cut a long story short, the visit ended in account opening failure, with the dismal parting message: can you come back-we are migrating from PCs to tablets and the system seems to be down.

KBC - world class onboarding

KBC in Ireland is another class leader when it comes to digital onboarding.

KBC launched a full service retail bank in Ireland as recently as 2013 with the vision to become Ireland’s number one challenger bank. It is delivering on its target: An active account in 5 steps in 5 minutes.


Well over 60% of new KBC accounts are opened digitally.


By the end of 2017, KBC customers in Ireland had opened 250,000 current accounts with more than 20,000 new accounts opened in the first quarter of 2018.


As well as the ability to open a current account in less than five minutes using a selfie to verify identify, KBC customers can now use their mobiles to apply for personal loans of up to €20,000 and receive the money in less than an hour.


In addition customers can use their smartphones to request an overdraft of between €300 and €7,000.


78% of KBC Ireland customers are regular users of its mobile banking app.


All of the UK banks claim to be customer centric; they all have substantial tech budgets; there is no longer any excuse not to be able to match the great user experience offered by such as Revolut, Metro Bank and KBC Ireland.







From this perspective, yes – deploying and maintaining ATMs must be done in a strategic manner. This being said, with the rapidly changing consumer expectations, businesses and banks must keep in mind that placing a strain on communities that already struggle to access cash might backfire.