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Customer Bank Fees: Mint.com Takes on Wells Fargo

Danny Peltz from Wells Fargo confessed that his bank's rather cool Stagecoach Island website, complete with avatars, was begun on a bet. But is this the rich experience bank customers really want from their financial institution?

At a recent Web 2.0 panel discussion held in New York (courtesy of Celent), the concept of "rich user experience" dominated the discussion. Danny Peltz from Wells Fargo confessed that his bank's rather cool Stagecoach Island website, complete with avatars, was begun on a bet. But is this the rich experience bank customers really want from their financial institution? A good-natured but pointed exchange followed from the panelists.It was Mint.com that raised a substantive issue. Aaron Paltzer, Mint's founder and CEO, threw out the statistic that the average American household will spend $500 this year on banking and other financial services fees, and said consumers aren't happy about it. His opinion: banks should move away from fee-based revenue. And he vowed that Mint would continue to "expose" these fees on its site.

Peltz countered with, "Well, based on Wells Fargo's 175 years of experience - we wish you luck with that." The audience laughed. But only a little.

As a typical bank customer myself, I keep waiting for new technologies to positively impact my bottom line. I thought it would happen with the labor savings from ATMs. But instead, banks charge me to use them - sometimes, at both ends. If Wells Fargo's commitment to fees is typical, will there soon be a teller fee as well? How about my online saving account? Will the land-based checking account that funds it start charging me for the privilege? Or maybe the online bank will begin extracting a deposit or withdrawal fee.

So what would you rather have from your bank - a nifty website, or lower fees?

And how much is the maintenance assessment on my avatar?Danny Peltz from Wells Fargo confessed that his bank's rather cool Stagecoach Island website, complete with avatars, was begun on a bet. But is this the rich experience bank customers really want from their financial institution?

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