Old bank dogs can learn new tech tricks

Hats off to the banks which made it easy to get back up to speed after credit/ debit card loss

The Scotsman - - Smart Money With Gareth Shaw -

Ithink it was the 5am wake-up call from my one-year-old that set the wheels in mo­tion.

After an hour of play that in­cluded read­ing ‘Spot Bakes a Cake’ for the 73rd time and a game that in­volves putting a cup on my head and quack­ing like a duck which makes my son laugh hys­ter­i­cally, I set off for a fa­tigue-stricken, three-hour jour­ney to a con­fer­ence in deep­est Berk­shire, which in­volved one bus, two tubes, three trains and a taxi ride.

A taxi ride, it turns out, I was un­able to pay for. Some­where on the trans­fer be­tween Twyford and Hen­ley, I’d ab­sent­mind­edly lost my wal­let, which in­cluded three debit cards, a credit card and an old five-pound note I’d been plan­ning to ex­change at the Bank of Eng­land.

Sur­pris­ingly, this is the first time this has hap­pened to me and, nat­u­rally, I was filled with hor­ror. Was some­one go­ing crazy with my con­tact­less cards? Was my iden­tity be­ing stolen? Was that old pa­per fiver I’d been cling­ing onto be­ing cashed in? But the fi­nan­cial hack in me saw an op­por­tu­nity – how quickly could I get back to spend­ing after be­ing forced to can­cel ev­ery sin­gle card I owned.

I have three bank ac­counts – one with the high-street provider I joined when I was 17 years old be­cause it was near­est to the bus stop, and two smart­phone-only ac­counts I run ex­clu­sively through mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions. My credit card provider is a well-known re­tailer with a su­perb re­ward scheme.

My first step was to open the bank­ing apps on my phone. I was able to freeze all three debit cards to stop any­one us­ing them – all it took was a thumb-print to un­lock the apps and the flick of a but­ton to put a block on the cards. And when the train com­pany con­firmed that my wal­let couldn’t be found, I once again used the apps to can­cel my debit cards and re­order a new one.

In just a minute of tap­ping and swip­ing, 75 per cent of my anx­i­ety had sub­sided.

Things were more cum­ber­some with my credit card. I had to Google the num­ber for lost or stolen cards; go through around five au­to­mated op­tions and then three se­cu­rity ques­tions be­fore I could can­cel. All in all, I was on the phone for 15 min­utes, and told that a new card would be reis­sued to me in seven to 10 work­ing days. Clearly, the loser in the pack had been iden­ti­fied.

The abil­ity to freeze or can­cel your card in-app is a rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non, pi­o­neered by smart­phone-only chal­lenger banks.

The likes of Monzo and Star­ling have made this a ma­jor sell­ing-point, demon­strat­ing their agility and de­sire to solve the old frus­tra­tions of tra­di­tional banks.

Very few of the big high­street beasts of bank­ing of­fer this op­tion – ex­cept for mine, for­tu­nately. Had I put my 17-year-old busi­ness with any other provider, I sus­pect I would have faced an­other 15-minute call to get my card can­celled..

That wasn’ t the most re­mark­able out­come of this ex­pe­ri­ence. All of my debit cards are loaded on my phone to use with Ap­ple Pay. Or­di­nar­ily, if you’ve can­celled your card, those re­sid­ing in your Ap­ple Wal­let will no longer work and need to be deleted.

But mo­ments after can­celling my debit card with my old­est bank, I no­ticed the last four dig­its of the card changed on my phone, and I’d al­ready been is­sued a new card which had au­to­mat­i­cally been up­dated. With­out ex­pect­ing it, there wasn’t a mo­ment where I’d lost the abil­ity to pay for some­thing (so long as it was done con­tact­less via con­tact­less). Open­ing the app of one of my smart­phone ac­counts, I dis­cov­ered the same had oc­curred and all I need to do was add the new card to my Ap­ple Wal­let. It was only the last smart­phone bank the re­quired me to be is­sued with a new phys­i­cal card be­fore I could load it onto my phone.

I was away for three days in to­tal, from Mon­day through to Wed­nes­day. By the time I’d re­turned, my old­est bank had reis­sued my new card. By Thurs­day, I had three out of the four new cards in my hands.

At Which?, we’re del­uged with sto­ries from peo­ple who have had bad bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, giv­ing lit­tle room to cel­e­brate when things go well. But I was gen­uinely blown away by how easy it was to get back on my feet after an event that must hap­pen to peo­ple ev­ery sin­gle day. This was an ex­cel­lent demon­stra­tion of banks un­der­stand­ing the pain points when things go wrong for a cus­tomer and re­move all of the fric­tion to solve their prob­lem.

And the fact that my le­gacy bank, whose peers are not known for lead­ing the pack in terms of dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion, out­per­formed the fin-tech up­starts in my sce­nario shows that even the big­gest of the old dogs can learn new tech tricks to keep their cus­tomers happy.

Of course, it’s not an ex­per­i­ment I want to repli­cate. But it’s one less thing to worry about the next time I spend the day in a stu­por after a game of twi­light quacky-cup-hat.

Gareth Shaw is head of Which? Money on­line

This was an ex­cel­lent demon­stra­tion of banks un­der­stand­ing the pain points when things go wrong for a cus­tomer

It was sur­pris­ing how quickly it was pos­si­ble to go back to spend­ing after be­ing forced to can­cel ev­ery sin­gle card

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