Before and After: Wells Fargo’s New Website Design

image Two weeks ago, Wells Fargo rolled out a new homepage design. Based on a quick Google news search, it doesn’t seem to have received any negative comments. And that’s good.

Wells Fargo has maintained its overall good design for almost ten years (see previous versions below), so most visitors are accustomed to the bank’s no-nonsense approach to content and navigation. The new site maintains the look and feel of previous generations, while overhauling top-level navigation. While it may not win design awards, the new layout works really well, and that’s very good.

The most noticeable change shows that Wells finally eliminated its mid-page “link farm” navigation, in use since 2004 (see screenshots). It was replaced by fly-out “mega menus” that expand over the top half of the page when a cursor hovers over a primary navigation item. While these menus can be annoying when they hide content you were looking at, most website users are accustomed to them, and they are a good way to expose the broad offerings of a large commercial bank.

The other big change is something more unique to Wells Fargo: the “financial needs ribbon” (Wells calls it a “carousel”). It’s a swipe-able/clickable link to seven major financial topics:

  • Home Lending (see arrows, example below): Mortgages and first-time buyer education
  • Banking Made Easy: Pitching checking, savings and online/mobile banking
  • Borrowing and Credit: Promotes entry-level credit services
  • Retirement: Savings, IRA, etc.
  • Protect What Counts: Insurance
  • Fraud Information Center: Security and identity-theft protection
  • Going to College: Budgeting, scholarships and student loans

On a desktop, my first impression of the ribbon was that it cluttered the page with redundant links. But the more I looked at it, especially after being briefed by the Wells Fargo homepage team this week (note 1), the more it makes sense.

The drop-down menu and/or the search box are efficient for visitors who know exactly what they are looking for. But for those that are not thinking in specific banking-product terms, the needs-based terminology may strike a chord, e.g., “Protect What Counts” instead of “Insurance.” The ribbon also allows the bank to showcase important services more prominently and more thoroughly.

But to truly appreciate the new approach, you must open the site on a tablet (I tested on full iPad). On a touch-screen, the ribbon, and the underlying content, are smoothly swiped from left-to-right or right-to-left, making for a very professional looking tablet-website.

Bottom line: While the homepage is still slightly cluttered for my tastes (do they really need 4+ “happy family” shots on the homepage?), I think the bank has done a good job managing the tradeoff between simplicity and exposing all that it has to offer. And the touchscreen-friendly content-ribbon is a design innovation I think we’ll see at other financial institutions in the future.

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New Design: Launched June 8, 2013

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Before: June 2012

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Before: June 2008

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Before: June 2004

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Notes:
1. For a more thorough recap of the Wells Fargo redesign, see Mary Wisniewski’s American Banker interview of Shannon Lundgren, Wells Fargo VP Product Management of Digital Sales & Service.     
2. Hopefully, I can convince my friends at comScore to send over some before-and-after data once they’ve had a few months to measure the new site’s performance.  
3. We continually look at website design and UX in our industry subscription service, Online Banking Report. All-Access subscribers are entitled to a complimentary high-level website review each year. 

Bank Opportunity: Online/Mobile Travel Insurance Sales

imageWhen your core business has been around for hundreds of years, it’s harder to find new sources of revenue. One area ripe for expansion at many banks is insurance. Wells Fargo, for example, put more emphasis on the area by separating insurance from investments in its June 8, 2013, homepage remodel. See our full insurance report for more info on the market size and opportunities for banks.

While auto, life, health and home are the biggest in terms of overall premiums, they are also highly competitive with hundreds of thousands of established sales agents in the U.S. alone. But dozens of niche insurance-markets exist that might make it easier to find a foothold.

Take travel insurance.

You’ve seen these policies pitched when you are checking out at Expedia or other travel sites. While it’s tough to compete with the convenience of buying during the travel-booking process, financial institutions still have an advantage that Expedia doesn’t: Trust.

I’ve been using Expedia for 15 years and have booked 100+ trips there with few problems. So I trust them with travel arrangements. But does that trust extend to insuring my travel? Not so much. It’s hard to understand exactly what is included/excluded in their insurance upsells. And the one-size-fits-all approach rarely covers what I’m looking for in travel insurance (which is “no questions asked” cancellation). And often I’m exhausted after making complicated travel arrangements and have no energy left to figure out whether their insurance makes sense.

I’d much rather purchase a policy from a trusted source where I can get answers to specific questions, review policies after the fact, and be able to come back year after year for consistent choices. And since I don’t have a direct relationship with an insurance carrier (everything is bought through a small broker), I would be very interested in buying from my bank.

imageI’m not sure how many U.S. financial institutions offer travel insurance, but I suspect it’s a small number. But there is one major player with a comprehensive travel insurance offering, BB&T (see screenshots below).

Getting a quote is easy. You simply tell the bank how many travelers you have, their age, travel date and cost. Within seconds, three options are presented (screenshot #1) covering basic trip interruption to one that covers medical evacuation and much more (screenshot #2, note 2). It even allows you to upgrade to “cancel for any reason” for a reasonable additional fee ($63 per person for my hypothetical $3,000 per person trip).

Actually buying the insurance requires a few more fields to be completed (see screenshot #3). But at that point, I already know that it’s worth my while and am not put off by additional data entry. And if I was already logged in, these fields should mostly be prefilled.

Bottom line: With a captive audience of authenticated online and mobile users, banks and credit unions could be the biggest providers of travel insurance. And with the added advantage of seeing travel-reservation charges appearing on debit and credit cards, you can cross-sell the service while the trip-reservation process is still fresh in the customers’ mind. 

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1. BB&T produces three options for travelers (24 June 2013)
Notes:
1. Live Chat option in lower right
2. Total cost shown for two travelers going on a $3,000 trip that begins 60 days from now

image

 

2. Detailed coverage of BB&T Deluxe Protection Plan

 image

3. Complete application for each traveler

image

4. BB&T is one of a few financial institutions to include “insurance” as a primary navigation item

image

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Notes:
1. See our full Online Banking Report on “Banks in Insurance” here (Dec 2011, subscription)
2. To earn my business, I’d want to mix and match some of these benefits. The policy I want is basic interruption, but with the ability to cancel for any reason and with a deductible to bring the premium down.   
3. Picture credit: 1938 vintage travel poster at eBay

Everbank Takes Gold in Change Sciences Ranking of Small Biz Banking Online Sales, BB&T is Runner-up

Small Biz Banking Ranking from Change SciencesI’ve had a consumer account at Everbank since shortly after it launched in 1998. And I’ve continued to be a fan, both of the bank, and of its co-founder and product-guru Rob Foregger’s subsequent work at Personal Capital and others. But I hadn’t realized that Everbank excelled on the small biz side.

Change Sciences, which quantifies and compares bank user experience in various verticals, ranked Everbank #1 in its just-published report (subscription) on online sales of small-business banking services.

As you can see from the methodology below, Change Sciences is looking at the discovery and sales process for small biz banking, not the actual online banking experience itself.

Everbank took first by a solid 3-point margin over runner-up BB&T. Most of the big banks were bunched just below BB&T. PNC Bank and US Bank were just a point lower and BofA was just two points lower. SunTrust and Wells also finished four points under BB&T.

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Everbank offers an extensive menu of business benefits via mouseover dropdown menu (6 Aug 2012)

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Note: Change Sciences methodology (from its website)

Each site is evaluated (via desktop browser) against a series of criteria by a Change Sciences analyst. The analyst reviews pages and screens that are part of a critical user task. As the tasks are evaluated, the analyst does three things:
• Looks for predefined user-experience characteristics and features.
• Evaluates the page for ease of use or usability, and applies heuristics accordingly.
• Looks for unexpected enhancements, which we call pleasant surprises.

Tasks evaluated:
• Getting a first impression
• Learning about the bank’s approach to its small-business customers
• Finding out about checking and lending products
• Learning about online banking
• Getting to apply options

Mobile Marketing: Leveraging the iPhone App Update Process

image As customers have adopted ever-more convenient delivery methods, the customer communications process has changed dramatically. Each channel has its own ways of communicating with customers:

  • Branch/mail: Signage, statement inserts, chance conversations in line, direct sales pitches
  • Phone: On-hold messages, prompts on the phone tree, direct sales pitches
  • Online: Email, interstitials, display ads, website content, popups, online chat
  • Mobile: Similar to online plus notifications, text messages and app updates (see below)

In the mobile channel, the process for updating native apps provides a unique marketing opportunity that is virtually without cost and guaranteed to be read by a large portion of your mobile customers (previous post). App publishers have a screen of free real estate to explain the benefits of the new feature(s).

I’ve read thousands of these update descriptions and there is huge variety of approaches. Some publishers take maximum advantage of the “free publicity” to engage their customers (see Yelp below), pump up the new features (see USAA), and seek additional feedback (see Redfin, SimplyUs examples).

Other publishers don’t pay enough attention to readability (Wells, Bank of America, US Bank examples, see note 1) or just put the minimum effort into a bulleted list (E*Trade). 

Bottom line: Each time you push out a new update, use it as an opportunity to educate users and reinforce your mobile brand.

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iPhone App Update Examples

Good
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Yelp reinforces its playful brand with        USAA is more matter of fact, but  
enthusiastic and humorous copy                   does a good job highlighting new
announcing its v.6.0.                                           features in its v.4.9.

image     image

Redfin released a minor bug fix in             SimplyUs gets right to its bullet
v.3.3.2 but includes its email address        list of features, with just enough
to report any issues.                                           info to explain the v.1.0.17 update.
Nice touch!                                                            Plus email and Twitter handle.

image     image

Need work
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Wells does an OK job, but the first               Similarly, Bank of America has an
bullet reads like something lifted from        acceptable message for its v.3.3.351. 
project checklist. And the second                  But the copy is a little confusing and
is too long-winded. Plus, a floating             has an asterisked point floating mid-page.                       “Bug fixes” hovers at  the bottom                        
of its v.2.1 update.

image     image

US Bank’s v. 1.6.8 message is                    E*Trade’s 2.6 update sounds like it
confusing. Something about being             has a bunch of new features, but
asked to accept a quick update, but 
         it did nothing but list them with
no specifics on why or what has                no explanations.
changed.

image    image

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Note:
1. These examples were all taken from updates I downloaded today. They are not necessarily indicative of every update from these companies. At major releases (such as Yelp’s v6.0), most publishers will step up the copy-writing quality.

Out of the Inbox: Mobile Banking Marketing Messages from Wells Fargo and Bank of America

image Yesterday was mobile day in my inbox. In the span of two hours, both Wells Fargo and Bank of America hit me up with email reminders of how great their mobile services were. 

Of the two, Wells Fargo’s was the more interesting, telling me about its revamped, mobile-optimized site, <wf.com> (see first screenshot). But since I’ve been using their iPhone app for three years, I’m not sure why I’d be super-interested in its mobile site.

In fact, the message is confusing for app users. Until I reread it for this blog post, I thought the bank was touting a new and improved app, which I was looking forward to checking out.

Bank of America’s message was completely generic, saying that mobile banking is secure, convenient, and customized. And the call to action was to download its app, which I did almost four years ago, so I’m not sure why I received this message (note 1). I have also used the bank’s iPad app and Kindle app.

Bottom line: The email messages were well-designed and short, so the creative scores well. But the targeting was sub-par, especially BofA, which seemed to completely miss the mark. And while Wells Fargo’s message could have been better adapted for app users, the bank gets points for acknowledging that I use the mobile channel (note 2). 

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Wells Fargo customer email (28 March 2012, 11:37 AM Pacific)
From address: wellsfargo@wellsconnect.wellsfargo.com
Note: Account holder name blurred out.

Wells Fargo customer email

Bank of America general mobile banking customer email (28 March 2012, 1:34 PM)
From address: bankofamerica@emcom.bankofamerica.com

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Notes:
1. A month ago I had to replace my BofA card (again!) due to fraud, so possibly this was a misguided on-boarding message.
2. The Wells Fargo message was clearly targeted to mobile users: “Thanks to suggestions from mobile users like you.”

Wells Fargo Shutters its Fee-Based Document Storage Service vSafe

Wells Fargo vSafe service closure message

Another innovation bites the dust.

I was a fan of Wells Fargo’s virtual safe-deposit service vSafe. Or at least the idea of it. The service launched in late 2008, before “the cloud” became an everyday term and companies such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Box.net made file storage a competitive business.

The bank was gutsy enough not only to launch a unique service, but also charge for it. I applauded the $4.95 (1 GB) to $14.95 (6 GB) monthly fee at the time, although I personally didn’t use it enough and let the service lapse after the free trial period.

But alas, the bank has apparently given up on vSafe. It’s still listed on the main online banking toolbar (see below), but the tab now leads to a terse statement saying that the bank is no longer enrolling customers (see above). And the product has been purged from the public website.

Wells Fargo vSafe last days on the online banking toolbar?

According to storage startup AboutOne, which is marketing a replacement service for vSafe users, all stored files in vSafe will be deleted on March 28.  
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Analysis
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Although Wells Fargo stuck with it for more than three years, even marketing it from the homepage, vSafe must have had little traction. That’s not a huge surprise. Even before Dropbox, fee-based secure file storage was a niche offering. And with the onslaught of better known, cheaper (note 1), and more comprehensive cloud-storage services, it was an uphill battle.

However, we still believe the virtual file cabinet is a good idea for financial institutions, especially as a way to speed estatement adoption.

Instead of charging a fee for basic online storage, make it a free place where bank customers can store their electronic bank statements (from you) for the life of their account. Then, consider upselling additional storage features for a monthly fee. Or bundle file storage with other value-adds into a premium online banking account.   

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Notes:
1. Dropbox provides 2 GB free of charge, with 50 GB costing $9.99/mo.
2. In our Online Banking Report publication, we wrote about fee-based online services in May 2011; paperless banking and online storage in late 2010; and lifetime statement archives in 2005.

Wells Fargo Pitching Wachovia’s Way2Save Account at Login

imageWells Fargo generally does a good job with its login product pitches. I like how the bank provides a "Remind me later" and "No thanks" option next to "Apply Now."

However, in today’s pitch for the rebranded Wachovia Way2Save account (see old logo, inset), the bank seems to have forgotten an important part of consumer decision process: explaining what the account is. There is no Learn More button to be found on the ad or landing page.

I had to leave the app and search the Wells Fargo website to determine the rate and unique features of Way2Save (see note 1). The main benefit: users receive a 3% APY on the first $500 in the account for one year, provided they use one or these automated savings features:

  • $25+ per month or $1+ per day transferred from Wells Fargo checking (outside accounts not an option, except for initial account funding)
  • Automatic $1 transfer from WF checking to savings with every debit card purchase or pre-authorized debit  

After one-year interest drops to the prevailing rate, currently just 5 basis points, 1/60th the premium rate. 

Online application process: Choosing Apply Now on the interstitial drops users directly into the bank’s generic online app where’s it’s difficult to even confirm what you are applying for (see upper right corner of second screenshot). 

Since I only have a Wells Fargo credit card, the bank offers me a $5/mo checking account, which is free if I have direct deposit or $1500 on deposit. But the checking account is not required. You can setup a standalone savings account, though it won’t qualify for the interest rate bonus or be able to use the automation tools.

On the final page users can fund the account with a transfer from a Wells or non-Wells deposit account or they can deposit up to $500 via credit or debit card. 

Bottom line: Automatic savings are a win-win. And offering a $15 interest bonus is a good way to improve signups. But Wells needs to explain the offer better so that customers customers are motivated to complete the application.    

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Wells Fargo interstitial login ad for Way2Save (10 Nov 2011)

Wells Fargo interstitial login ad for Way2Save

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing page, which is the first page of the online application (link)

Landing page, which is the first page of the online application

Wells Fargo online application (page 2)
Note: The bank is still disclosing at $3 debit card usage fee

image

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Notes:
image1. Way2Save was inherited from Wachovia (previous posts). Here’s the cached 6 Nov page from Google. The page now redirects to Wells Fargo savings.
2. Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008.
2. For info on online account opening, deposit gathering and much more, see our subscription newsletter, Online Banking Report.

Notifying Card Issuers that You Are Out of the Country

image We were lucky enough to take a quick trip to Europe this summer and one of the many rituals of modern travel is convincing your card issuers not to block international transactions. The conventional wisdom is to notify issuers in advance. While not an absolute necessity, it is said to improve your odds.

The process is very straightforward. All the bank needs is your travel dates and where you are visiting. However, it is tedious over the phone due to redundant authentication requirements.

Consequently, it’s an ideal service to automate with online, or even better, mobile form. I wrote about it the last time I traveled. But this time I put a clock on the process, just to see exactly how much time was wasted, for both the consumer and bank, on the phone. 

Summary: It took about 1 minute per card to register online at Capital One and Chase. Over the phone, it took 6.5 minutes at Wells Fargo and 9.5 at U.S. Bank. No one has it in their mobile app yet (see details below).   

I realize that online travel notifications are not a high priority these days. But, it’s such a win-win service, I wish more banks offered it. However, the real end game is to build automatic location notification into mobile-banking apps. Even if customers won’t agree to being tracked 24/7, there could be a button in the app that users press to submit their GPS location whenever they land in a new city or country. 

That gives customers total control, but makes it super easy for them to communicate. And it gives you a highly  secure method of knowing your customers are in the same location as their card. 
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Capital One: Online — 2 minutes to register 2 cards (see screenshots in previous post)
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Luckily, Capital One, my go-to card abroad with no international transaction fee, has an online form to do this. It’s not easy to find, but I’d written about it before so I knew roughly where to look. The form is a little convoluted; if traveling to multiple countries, you have to keep pressing “add another destination,” but it took less than a minute to add the five countries were we passing through.

I have Capital One personal and business cards which are integrated into the same online banking platform. But unfortunately, you have to do each card separately, so total time expended, including login, was about 2 minutes.

Capital One gets extra credit for sending me an email on my scheduled departure day asking me whether I needed anything and providing their international call-center instructions. _________________________________________________________________________________

Chase Bank: Online — less than 1 minute for 2 cards (see screenshot in previous post)
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I couldn’t remember whether Chase had an online option, so I logged in, didn’t see it on the right-hand column of common links. So I went to customer service and found it on the list of available tasks. The form was super-easy; I could do both of my cards at once and just free-form input the countries. Total form-completion time was under 10 seconds, but if counting login and function-search, it took just under a minute. __________________________________________________________________________________

U.S. Bank: Phone: 9.5 minutes on phone + 2 minutes searching online for 1 debit card (with 2 different account numbers)
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I first checked online to see if travel notifications had been added since the last time I checked. No such luck, so about 2 minutes were wasted. Because we needed ATM access abroad, we had to have this card working, so I reluctantly called the 800 number on a Friday evening, and was told that wait times were approx 4 minutes. I think they were only half that, but it still took me a full 9.5 minutes to get my ATM cards registered. About one minute of that was spent finding my wife’s debit card, which I now know has a different number than mine.

Why the agent couldn’t handle both ATM cards from a joint account without needing the other number is beyond me, but he insisted.

Total time expended was 2 minutes online and 9.5 on the phone: 11.5 minutes total.

Extra credit goes to the U.S. Bank agent who activated my new debit card that had recently come in the mail. My old card would have expired during the trip.  
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Wells Fargo: Phone: 6.5 minutes on the phone + 2 minutes searching online for 1 card
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My wife carries a Wells card at all times, so usually she handles travel notifications. But since I was already on a roll, I took on the task. Although I didn’t recall ever seeing it, I assumed Wells would have an online option, but after a search of the site, I found that my hunch was wrong and that I’d wasted a few minutes.

I called the 800 number and was able to complete the process in about 6.5 minutes. Much of that time was spent listening to menu choices and current balance info (which I didn’t want). Had I known how to skip through the menus, it would have taken only about 3 minutes. The agent was friendly and efficient, although she twice asked if she could also activate my debit card even though I don’t have a checking account there. But I appreciate that she was trying to be thorough. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Bank of America: Phone — 2 minutes, 0 cards
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I was going to take my Bank of America card along, but after searching customer service I could not find an online form to complete, so I decided to leave it at home. Score 1 for the more online-savvy approach at its competitors.

Wells Fargo Remodels its Mobile Website, WF.com

image I just realized that I haven’t posted anything about non-app-based mobile websites (aka WAP) since the pre-iPhone days of early 2007, when I tried unsuccessfully to log in to ING Direct’s mobile site through my trusty Samsung Blackjack.  

Mobile banking has come a long way since then, primarily through native apps, now supported by more than 1,000 financial institutions in the U.S. alone. But a mobile-optimized website is still an important part of your overall mobile mix. Not everyone has a smartphone and not every smartphone user will download your app.

And some observers believe that the mobile Web, enhanced with HTML 5 and whatever comes next, will eventually run all the apps out of business. With 300,000 apps for the iPhone already created, I think that’s unlikely, but possible.

But whatever the future holds, today you need a good mobile-optimized website. And Wells Fargo, for one, hasn’t forgotten about it. Today they sent an email to customers announcing a remodeled mobile site at WF.com, its mobile URL (see screenshot below).

After logging in at the WF.com site, users are greeted with a menu button that opens up a new window of choices (note arrow in screenshot). It’s a nice way to navigate and makes the mobile website feel more like an app. The email also says there is more info on the page to minimize clicking, an important change. I still prefer the native app (note 1), but this is a nice improvement.

Wells Fargo email to customers announcing its redesigned mobile banking site, WF.com (5 Jan. 2011; landing page)
Note: The “Menu” button, when pressed, opens or closes the navigation choices (shown in open mode below)

Wells Fargo email to customers announcing its redesigned mobile banking site, WF.com (5 Jan 2011)

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Note:
1. Ironically, the native app doesn’t seem to be working on my iPhone 4 at the moment (update 6 Jan., it’s working now). Another reason you want to have a good mobile website alternative.

Wells Fargo Launches Much-Needed Personal Finance Tool: ATM Cash Tracker

image While full-functioned personal financial management (PFM) has its strategic advantages, the truth is that most consumers will never use a financial tool that takes longer than the length of a YouTube video to figure out (note 1).

That’s why I’m a big fan of what Wells Fargo has done with My Spending Report, a drop-dead simple method for periodically seeing how out-of-control your spending is. All you do is click on the appropriate tab within online banking and bang, you are instantly looking at a pre-categorized spending analysis. Let’s call it one-click PFM.

ATM Cash Tracker (press release), the newest tool from the bank, is similarly simple to set up and use. Although it’s initially designed for ATM users, the concept would work well online and even better via a mobile app.

Wells customers can add a Cash Tracker button to their personalized ATM menu (see first screenshot). When selected, the new tool will reveal the total cash withdrawn during the current month along with the average during the past 12 months. It tracks only cash withdrawn from Wells Fargo ATMs. 

That’s a great ATM innovation, but it will be even better when extended to mobile/online and applied to all cash use. As soon as I take money out of any machine (not just Wells Fargo) or receive cash back at the POS, my total cash use should be reflected on an online/mobile widget along with historical comparison. And users should have the option to tag the cash with spending categories to help assign it to the proper My Spending Report bucket.

And for users opting for emailed ATM receipts instead of paper ones (note 2), the Cash Tracker totals could be added to the virtual receipt (see second screenshot).

Wells Fargo personalized ATM menu
Note: New ATM Cash Finder not shown

Wells Fargo personalized ATM menu

Wells Fargo customers can choose to have their ATM receipt emailed
Note: Option E (below) allows users to hide their account balance from showing on the ATM screen.

Wells Fargo ATM e-receipt options

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Notes:
1. And I’m one of those people, so this is not meant to be a condescending remark. Just a fact.  
2. Wells Fargo released the ATM e-receipt option in June (press release)
3. Photo credit: Colin/thetruthabout
4. For more on online personal financial management (OFM), see our recent Online Banking Report