Krogstad Quickens Pace of Mobile App Change at Bank of the West

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  • We heard it again and again from Charaka Kithulegoda and other bankers honored in our Mobile Banker of the Year package this year: simplicity and ease of use are the keys to sound mobile banking app design.
    June 3

In the 18 months that Mathieu Krogstad has been with Bank of the West, he's launched several new mobile banking features.

One is Quick Balance, which lets customers check their bank balance before they log into mobile banking. "You download the app, you opt in for the service, and from then on, without having to log in, you pull down on the Bank of the West logo and hold for a few seconds and get your balance," says Krogstad, who is vice president, mobile banking and payments for the bank. His previous employer was mobile banking software provider M-Com, which was bought by Fiserv. The Quick Balance technology is provided by Fiserv, which also provides the bank's online, mobile banking, bill payment and person-to-person platforms. It taps into a craving cash-strapped customers have to know their financial status.

"So far, customers and employees love it, mainly because people love to know what their balances are," Krogstad says.

Although at first blush the feature may look like a security red flag, Krogstad points out that it's more secure than text messages delivering a customer's balance, because the communication is encrypted.

The $63 billion-asset San Francisco bank has also developed the ability to let people enroll in mobile banking from their device (it supports iPhone, iPad and Android) — this has become a best practice in the industry. Before, customers had to go online, sign in and sign up for the service before their mobile banking credentials would work. "That's a big source of friction in the enrollment process," Krogstad says. The next step will be to enroll non-online banking customers for online and mobile banking directly from the mobile device, which today few banks have.

A mobile PIN feature invites customers to set up a six-to-eight digit numeric PIN. "Keeping it strictly numeric but making it 6-8 digits gave us a big win in terms of speeding up and easing the login process," Krogstad says. "I think that PIN can have a lot of value in the future when we look toward payments, and want to provide an easy to enter credential at the point of sale."

Going forward, the bank plans to provide more balances in the Quick Balance tool, something customers have asked for. Small business and wealth management apps are on the drawing board.

To achieve these aggressive goals, Krogstad assembled a new mobile banking team comprised of mobile veterans from some of the biggest banks in the US and non-bankers from the mobile start-up world. The team pioneered a "radical collaboration" approach critical for success with such an extensive cross-functional engagement, which brings together hundreds of key stakeholders from all areas of the bank — from compliance, risk and security through branch staff.

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