BB&T Already Making Plans to Expand Its New Digital Portal

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BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C., is pleased with early adoption rates for its month-old customizable online banking portal.

The $209 billion-asset company debuted its U platform — an application designed in-house that lets customers set color schemes, profile pictures and other features – late last month. BB&T is having all new clients sign up for the portal while encouraging existing customers to adopt it as well. So far, about 70,000 people are on board.

“We think it's really being adopted very well and the response … has been exceptional,” Ricky Brown, the company’s president of community banking, said during a conference call Thursday to discuss quarterly earnings. Early “feedback has been very, very good.”

BB&T is already planning its next wave of features, including the ability to provide customers with a quarterly view of their credit score. “We think it’s important for them to understand credit and finances,” Brown said.

The effort has several benefits. First, it could help BB&T land more millennial customers, while helping create stickier relationships to reduce attrition. BB&T also hopes to incorporate more cross-selling functions over time. The platform was “not built as a product that has an end life,” Brown said.

Expanded use could also provide BB&T with more options when it comes to reducing the size of its branch network. The company has entered a number of new markets in the past year – Texas, Pennsylvania and southern Ohio – via acquisitions, which has significantly increased its overall cost structure.

Digital initiatives do not “take a huge amount of actual capital in terms of equipment,” Brown said.

“Clearly our most expensive channel is the branch, which we'll be rationalizing over time,” he added. “We think that, with the advent of digital and things like U, that we will be able to go into markets where we've got great distribution, great coverage and great brand and perhaps be able to take branches out.”

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