The battle to onboard: how to kill friction and get people to convert

Customers can be demanding folks. The speed and seamlessness of technology today has conditioned us all to expect the same experience in every interaction – whether we’re booking a hotel, buying paper towels on Amazon or filling in a banking application. The first two instances have adapted well to the shifting expectations – the latter, not so much.

TL;DR – Quick summary


When it comes to filling in an online application for, say, opening a new bank account, moving funds or linking a bank account with a payment service – the process is as cumbersome as ever. Add to this consumers’ newfound power to switch service providers more easily than ever and it means this: high abandonment rates.

According to a 2018 Signicat study, 52% of respondents have given up on banking applications (a number that rose by 35% in the UK over the last two years). The #1 reason? The amount of time it took. And #2 was “needing too much personal information”. No-one wants to dig out and manually input data – so they give up.

We have conversations about this with potential customers each week. How can the speed and seamlessness people expect be brought into the onboarding process for financial services? Especially when onerous Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements add additional steps?

Data aggregation is the simple answer. And there are two onboarding processes that become smoother and faster for your users when it’s implemented: verifying bank accounts and pre-filling online forms.

Customers want all-digital onboarding but banks are slow to catch up according to a Signicat report and Kofax’ Digital Banking Report.

Verifying accounts in seconds – not days

Account verification is a headache for online banking services like e-wallets and payment service providers (PSPs). They need users to provide all of their account info (and find it in the first place), and verify their own the bank account in order to get the service.

There have been all manner of effective yet clunky ways of doing this – manual form-filling, micro deposits, unique codes to verify provided over a number of days. This process generates considerable friction in the onboarding process. No wonder so many abandon it altogether.

But if these banks and fintechs used aggregation, an end user would only have to click to connect their bank account and authenticate themselves. All of their account info would be pulled into the online form and they would use a code-based or biometric authentication method – completing the process in several minutes as opposed to several days.

The goal here is to make this procedural part of onboarding smooth and ultimately forgettable – not the reason you lose a customer.

Pre-fill to simplify, save time and satisfy

Imagine this common onboarding scenario: you’re applying for a new investment account. But you need to transfer funds from the old one. Fast-forward to you searching for elusive sort codes, account numbers and ISIN numbers on papers you haven’t seen in years – and painstakingly filling in the paper forms. Then it’s rejected because you messed up one number.

No thanks.

Imagine instead that the onboarding was more like what Qliro does, a Swedish fintech (and Tink partner). They use aggregation to pre-fill this account info when a customer applies for a loan or sets up a direct debit. It takes their users just a couple of minutes to connect their accounts and authenticate – their account data gets fed into the online form.

Customers go through a simple three-step process to allow Qliro access to their banking data in seconds.

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