Over the summer, BankThink asked a little over a dozen industry experts to weigh in on what they thought the future model of banking would look like. The series generated a spirited discussion on several topics: What will future branch networks look like? Should banks partner with startups? What is the best use of Big Data?

All of the conversation, however, was tied to one central question: What exactly do customers want in a banking model? (I suppose this will invariably happen when one question you ask is, "What products and services will tomorrow's banks offer that truly add value and that customers will be willing, even happy, to pay for?")

Our subsequent Tweet Chat on the Future Model of Banking series illustrated just how divided industry pundits were on what is currently driving and what would inevitably determine customers' banking choices. Some felt that trust, privacy and identity management would win business. Others thought that convenience, channel integration and affordability were priorities.

Hence, today BankThink introduces a new series, entitled "What Bank Customers Want," in which people from different demographics will provide firsthand accounts of what they are looking for from the financial firm they do business with.

Contributors were asked to comment on broad issues – for instance, mobile versus brick-and-mortar banking – but also encouraged to get specific. (A secondary catalyst for the series, for instance, was my growing disillusionment with 5% cash back credit cards that require quarterly enrollment and rotate the spending categories that earn points. Twitter quickly proved all customers do not necessarily share that sentiment.)  

Our fundamental pitch, however, was: "If you could design your perfect bank, what would it look like?"

In the series' inaugural post, Simon Zhen – a millennial who's well versed on industry trends given he writes for the personal finance site MyBankTracker.com – wishes for frictionless payments. Over the next week, we'll hear from students at a financial literacy school in Oakland, Calif.; a retired baby boomer; a former Wall Streeter who now works for a New York progressive activist organization; and a few others about what their ideal bank would be. We also plan on keeping the series open-ended so readers can hear from other demographics over time.

I expect responses will vary, given that the fundamental needs of any given demographic vary, but hopefully a few common threads will emerge. And, as always, readers are encouraged to share their thoughts on the pieces in the Comments sections.

Jeanine Skowronski is the deputy editor of BankThink. You can contact her at Jeanine.skowronski@sourcemedia.com or follow her at Twitter @JeanineSko.