The mobile banking apps of payment banks are of great importance these days to bind and retain customers. The corona crisis is encouraging companies to take steps in the field of digitization. For banks, a fully digital, fast and secure customer onboarding process is an ideal idea to work towards. The onboarding process of the challenger banks still appears to have a considerable advantage over the onboarding process of the large banks. Over the past year, this last group of banks has made few breakthrough developments. On the other hand, there are interesting developments in a number of other banks examined. Triodos, Knab and ASN Bank in particular have made significant improvements.

Enigma Consulting has investigated the customer onboarding process at various checking account offering banks. This study is a repeat of a previous study from early 2019. The following thirteen banks were included in the study: ABN Amro, ASN, Bunq, ING, Knab, Monese, Moneyou, N26, Openbank, Rabobank, Revolut, SNS and Triodos. Monese and Openbank feature for the first time. We initially focused on onboarding via the app. When onboarding via the app was not possible, the onboarding was carried out online, via the website. In this study, the process was assessed on the basis of three criteria: (1) user-friendliness, (2) fraud prevention/safety and (3) innovation.

The overviews below graphically show the movements that have taken place at the various banks in the past year.

Chart comparison between early 2019 and early 2020

Score early 2019 = circle with thin black border Score early 2020 = circle with thick black border

Triodos, ASN and Knab are taking steps forward

In the 2019 study, one of the conclusions was that ASN and Triodos had to be careful that the difference with the other banks would not become too large. In terms of user-friendliness, Triodos has made a number of improvements in the past period. For example, the online environment on the website has been given a completely new look-and-feel. The onboarding process itself has also become more accessible. A year ago, for example, the customer had to send a physical copy of their ID-card by mail. Nowadays this copy can also be uploaded digitally, which has increased considerably.

ASN has strengthened the safety of its onboarding process. A broadcast by Dutch television program Rambam demonstrated the need for this reinforcement because it was possible to open an account with a forged copy of a passport. ASN has learned from this and closed the leak.

At Knab, too, striking improvements have been implemented. Where the customer previously started onboarding via the website, the process can now be carried out entirely via the app. The app has also been modernized. Furthermore, it is possible to scan the passport, register a PIN via the app and linking of the identifier and debit card is no longer required. The user experience has been positively influenced by these new developments. In view of the know your customer process, the customer is presented with an extensive questionnaire.

Challenger banks are fast, paperless and innovative

The challenger banks are in the advantage over traditional banks with a completely digital and paperless process, a short turnaround time and innovative solutions. The online banks are still forcing the established order to improve when it comes to ease of use and speed. In addition, fintechs are stable when it comes to safety.

Monese and Openbank are newcomers to the study. At Monese, the identification is read out via a photo and the customer identifies himself via a selfie film and voice recording. These functionalities score well on user convenience. However, there is a lot of improvement in the area of fraud prevention and safety. There have been occurrences of customers receiving a debit card with an incorrect name. The name of the customer is not always correctly read from the ID-card which results in the system making its own interpretation. The bank does include an extra check of the identity data by the customer itself in their process. In this area, ease of use, speed and safety are not balanced.

At the Spanish online bank Openbank, which entered the Dutch market in February 2020, the onboarding process is completely digital as well. The customer can identify their self through an identification deposit or via a video call. An Openbank employee asks some verification questions in the video call. A picture is then taken of the costumer and their ID-card. In our opinion, video call verification is a safe and digital way to find out if the person requesting the account actually has the specified identity. On the other hand, a video call can form a barrier for a customer to complete the process. Additionally, the customer must sign the terms via a digital signature.

At Revolut, the customer can now activate the debit card in the app. On top of that, a more extensive device registration has been introduced. Bunq, Moneyou and N26 have left the onboarding process through the app unchanged over the past year.

What is also interesting is that challenger banks, like Bunq, Monese and N26, offer an attractive referral model. As a customer, you get a reward when you bring in a new customer. This reward often comes in the form of a monetary amount.

Traditional banks stable

The onboarding process shows no noticeable developments at the large banks. At ABN Amro, the driving license has been added as a means of identification and a customer must go through all screens of the ‘settings’, such as the limits and alerts. ABN Amro scores well on safety. The bank indicates that it is sends all mail separately for safety reasons. For example, the customer receives four different letters – for the debit card, PIN number, debit card activation code and identifier. In addition, the customer must go through an extensive device registration for each device that is used for mobile banking. These additional security steps are somewhat at the expense of user-friendliness.

No changes have been made at ING and Rabobank. At ING, onboarding with an Android operating system runs smoothly. However, onboarding via the iOS operating system (Apple) is still not possible. Those customers must rely on the onboarding process via the website.

Customer identification and verification

Identification methods such as a videocall, selfie photo and selfie film are becoming more relevant. De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has indicated in the ‘Guide Wwft 2019’ that institutions should use one or more other reliable methods to verify the identity of the customer in addition to an identification deposit. In the case of an identification deposit, it is not established that an adequate identification and verification has been carried out by another institution, the DNB states.

ASN, Knab, Rabobank, SNS and Triodos use the identification deposit without using other methods to verify the identity of the customer. These banks will have to work with their identification and verification process to comply with the DNB’s guidelines.

Superior onboarding customer journey at other banks?

In summary, it can be argued that traditional banks have added little value to their onboarding process. The underlying reason may be that they are not stimulated to further develop the process, because they expect their market share to remain stable. The banks that failed to excel in their customer journey last year have prioritised further digitisation and improvement of the customer experience. In addition, several banks have improved the look-and-feel.

What is interesting is how these payment banks relate to other financial institutions. Do financial institutions with only a savings account and/or an investment account offer a safer, more innovative or more user-friendly customer journey? To answer this question, Enigma Consulting has examined the onboarding of eleven other financial institutions. The results will follow in a follow-up to this article.

If you want to get more value from your onboarding process or want to know more about the new guidelines regarding identification, Enigma Consulting can provide you with advice.


Marc Groot
Marc Groot
Executive Consultant
Mahada Abdillah Walie
Mahada Abdillah Walie
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