Wells Fargo Rebuilds Website, Mobile Apps for Corporate Clients

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Wells Fargo, which was one of the first banks to offer mobile banking apps to business customers in 2007, has been making some updates.

First and foremost, it's created a browser-based, mobile-optimized CEO Mobile site. The site was built in-house in HTML5 using the open source YUI framework for building interactive web applications. All 89 web apps within the current CEO corporate portal are being re-architected and recoded for the new site.

The site is touch optimized and responsive, so it can scale to the display constraints of whatever device it's viewed on.

The bank will be piloting the new site until the end of the year and will begin formally rolling it out in 2014.

The upgraded site is meant to make business banking services run smoothly on all mobile devices. It doesn't let customers start a transaction on one device and continue it on another, because every session has to be authenticated for security purposes. The software does, however, let different users within a client company handle different pieces of the same process in separate sessions.

"We have a lot of workflow logic in our application," says Secil Watson, head of wholesale internet services, who visited American Banker's office yesterday. Some clients need to divide tasks across different people — one person might initiate a payment template, another person may make a payment for that template, and a third might approve the payment, for instance. The roles and entitlements of each user are built into the system.

"The CEO Portal is all about mass customization, because it's the same logic but it looks really different from user to user," Watson says. Some corporate customers have three or four accounts, others have 300 accounts; the site will have a different look and feel for each.

"Entitlements are a core way we simplify the user interface, so there's no clutter," Watson says. Individual users see only the data and tasks assigned to them. "But it's also risk mitigation, so you're not looking at accounts or information you're not permitted to look at."

The bank has been working to streamline the user experience on all devices.

"We look at behavior analytics a lot, because CEO Portal has been around for more than a decade and we've gathered a lot of information about how people use the apps," Watson notes.

The data shows that many users as part of their workflow will sign in, do one thing, sign back out and two hours later, repeat the process again. "They want that one thing to happen fast," Watson says. "For us it's all about reducing clicks."

Wire transfers are an example. "We found the wire approvers want it to do it as fast as possible," Watson says. "They get an email saying you have a wire pending but they also get a message from their coworker saying, go ahead and approve it, that wire has to go out in the next half hour. Speed is of the essence."

To fast-track the process, Wells Fargo put wire transfer approvals in a task panel on the home page of the CEO Mobile app. "We're trying to tunnel into certain critical, time-sensitive tasks so there are fewer clicks for customers, it's top of mind, and they're not going to get distracted by going someplace else," Watson says.

The security remains the same — users still need to provide their tokens twice to make a payment. "Now they can do it with two less clicks," Watson says.

Large corporate clients are required to use tokens and are strongly advised to use dual custody, separating the duties of who can initiate and who can approve a payment.

For customers that are too small to have dual custody — perhaps the company only has two employees — Wells Fargo this year introduced a feature called secure validation. With this turned on, when a customer submits a payment, the bank calls the user's mobile device and provides a numeric text or voice message the customer then has to enter in a field on the site.

"It's something else that you have that makes us more comfortable that you are who you say you are," Watson says.

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