Bank of America is rolling out a few updates to its mobile app and related digital-banking services this week.
Some are seasonal, and others are meant to get customers more engaged with the bank's app, which has 24 million users. It’s also setting up digital-only “Advanced Centers” where the only interaction with humans is through a video link.
The bank is introducing a new gamification feature to make its merchant discount program, BankAmeriDeals, more enticing. It’s called BankAmeriDeals Coin. As people use BankAmeriDeals, they collect coins, which add up to an additional bonus.
“We’re trying to make it fun and interactive, using design principles, letting people play games in the app,” said Michelle Moore, the bank's head of digital banking. “We’re trying to migrate toward personalization, giving people a reason to wake up every day and, in addition to looking at their balances, have some fun in the mobile app.”
A second new feature streamlines the process for opening a checking account within the app to a one-page application. A quarter of all accounts are opened digitally, Bank of America said.
A third added feature makes it easy for people to donate to charities.
“We spend a lot of time trying to understand what’s important to our customers,” Moore said. “We have a lot of data that shows our customers are focused on seven life priorities, ranging from health to finances to leisure and giving. We know that from millennials all the way through the life cycle, one thing that matters to our customers is their ability to give back.”
The bank partnered with a woman-run fintech startup in Charlotte, N.C., uBack, to create a tile on its app’s front page that links to the uBack site, where customers can choose among thousands of local charities.
“We’re out there testing to see how this will resonate with our customers: Is this what they mean when they say they want to give back?” Moore said.
A fourth feature, coinciding with the holiday buying season, lets customers shop for gift cards.
“We’ve noticed that the No. 1 thing customers want to give and receive at the holidays is a gift card,” Moore said. Through a partnership with Gift Card Mall, customers can click through the app to a site where they can shop for gift cards.
“We were looking at, how do we help reduce stress, make customers’ life easier during the holiday shopping season,” Moore said.
And the bank continues to expand what Moore calls “digital to physical integration.” Customers have been able to schedule appointments with lending officers and small-business bankers through the app for some time. This week the bank added the ability to schedule an appointment with a notary.
Bank of America is also experimenting with all-digital “Advanced Centers” in Denver, Minneapolis and Charlotte.
“When you walk into these Advanced Centers, you’re greeted by a virtual concierge who is also on my team, to help guide you through,” Moore said. “You can do everything you want to do in a full-service financial center except there are no people there — everything you do is with our folks but virtually.”
There is a greeter, but only on a TV screen. There are private conference rooms where customers can have remote video conversations with specialists.
“These Advanced Centers are additive to our footprint versus taking away because we can now go into new markets like Denver, like Minneapolis, and we can more quickly put up physical locations,” Moore said. “There’s no one physically standing there, but you can sit down and talk to someone remotely over video. We can reach more people.”
The bank has also redesigned online banking, making the site cleaner and dedicating more space to better money habits and improving customers' FICO scores, Moore said.