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Where Are the Online Banking Fees?

imageI am rarely at a loss for material when looking for examples to illustrate a point about online finance. Across thousands of financial websites, there’s an almost infinite supply of novel new services, marketing strategies, and promotional efforts. 

However, there’s one area with almost zero innovation. Pricing.

In the United States anyway, nearly every bank and credit union offers online, and now mobile, banking free of charge (see note 1). It’s an appealing price point for sure, but it also hampers the ability of financial institutions to develop novel service offerings. It’s a game of minimizing channel costs rather than maximizing returns.

However, several interesting new services that are at least trying to charge fees have recently shot up in online personal finance. Two debuted their new services at FinovateStartup April 28 (see notes 2 & 3; videos of their demos will be available online shortly):

  • is charging $125 to help consumers lower property taxes on their homes
  • Home-Account is charging a $8.75/mo to help users manage their home mortgage

We’ll look at both companies this week starting with  

1. We covered online banking pricing in a 2004 Online Banking Report (here). While the report is nearly five years old, sadly little has changed, so it remains relevant to today’s situation in the United States. 
2. In addition, at FinovateStartup we saw several new services that could increase payments-related income for banks, including the alt-payment companies, especially Acculynk and Moneta, offering revenue sharing and interchange fees for banking partners, and MicroNotes, which showed a platform that provided fee income to delivery-targeted advertising within the bill-payment function.
3. Also, Wells Fargo should be given credit for rolling out a fee-based storage solution integrated within its online banking services. The vSafe program costs $4.95/mo and up based on storage capacity desired.