The Q4 2003 Internet Banker Scorecard saw the proportion of Scorecard banks offering online document delivery continue to rise, with 67% offering online check imaging as of the October 17, 2003 Q4 Scorecard deadline. Notably, several banks also launched account-based e-mail alerts and inter-FI transfer functionality. Here's a look at key Scorecard findings:
Citibank Regains Primacy
Citibank regained the top spot in part through the April 2003 introduction of check images, along with the roll-out of additional transfer functionality such as inter-FI transfers and a new on-time bill payment pledge. Bank of America vaulted into second place Overall in part due to the introduction of online statement delivery and real-time transaction synchronization between the Web and ATM channels.
Citibank's top finish for Overall Score came despite the bank losing its edge in Ease Of Use, where it dropped from first to fifth. The bank's offering is a mixed bag when it comes to usability. On one hand, the bank receives credit for steps that make it easier for those applying online, and provides a useful summary of account information on the secure homepage along with shortcuts to various tasks. On the other hand, the bank suffers in the Design subcategory of Ease Of Use due to lapses in the overall site architecture.
E*Trade - A Fast-mover Once Again
After overhauling its offering since the Q2 '03 Scorecard, E*Trade tied with SouthTrust for the largest movement in Overall Score. Each bank gained eight spots, with E*Trade moving from fifteenth to seventh and SouthTrust moving from twenty-seventh to nineteenth. E*Trade, which has made its offering easier to use, also introduced online check imaging and bi-directional inter-FI transfers for banking customers.
Citizens & SunTrust Return
This edition of the Scorecard sees the return of Citizens (twenty-seventh Overall) and SunTrust (twenty-fourth Overall). SunTrust's offering now features check and deposit slip imaging as well as statement imaging, though, unusually, SunTrust has separated its statement delivery into a separate online service, which in turn can be used as a launching point for online banking and other services from SunTrust and its partners.
As these moves suggest, banks continue to evolve their online offerings at a fast pace. Indeed, since the Q4 Scorecard deadline, Bank One merged its online banking and brokerage offerings, while Citibank rolled out a program of activating checking accounts for new customers without first receiving a signature card. Fleet and National City, meanwhile, each rolled out online check imaging after our deadline.
As banks continue to refine and sometimes overhaul their offerings, there is increasing fragmentation in what Scorecard banks offer. Increasingly, banks are creating offerings that reflect business goals particular to the bank, such as what Citibank has done in prioritizing cross-border intra-FI transfers and what E*Trade has done with the promotion of two-way inter-FI transfers on the account management homepage.
Indeed, E*Trade Bank is one of several banks that will be interesting to watch for its use of the online offering to further the bank's specific business goals. E*Trade Bank has grown its deposits many-fold since its acquisition of Telebanc in January 2000. While the bulk of deposits have poured into accounts other than checking accounts, E*Trade appears interested in growing its checking business. Not only does the bank now offer online services, such as check imaging and a check register, focused on checking customers, but CEO Mitch Caplan recently announced that E*Trade will be converting its ATM fleet to deposit-taking machines, taking advantage of recent check imaging legislation to scan items at the point of deposit.
Other banks that bear watching include Wells Fargo, which has created an increasingly dynamic online delivery strategy featuring pre-approved offers and other targeted cross-sells, and Charter One, which has announced plans to move to a platform that will tightly integrate aggregation and inter-FI transfers.
Another bank to keep an eye on is First National Bank of Omaha. The bank, which shows a strong bias towards in-house development and operations management and competes with much larger players in the co-branded credit card market, has dramatically improved an offering that features increased support for its credit card and retail bank customers.
Gomez expects the dynamism shown in this and previous editions of the Scorecard to continue, as those banks not now offering online document delivery add it. Moreover, we expect banks to continue moving off the Web site through account-based alerts, and to increasingly tailor online delivery to their business goals for each individual customer and prospect.
Chris Musto is vice president of research at Gomez, Inc., an Internet benchmarking and improvement strategies firm in Waltham Mass. He can be reached at cmusto@Gomez.com.