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Is it Time for Digital Banking Subscription Fees?

By Jim Bruene on May 21, 2014 5:58 PM | Comments

image Now that we are 30 years into the online banking era (and nearly 20 years of web banking), it's time to start making the channel pay its way (or at least contribute something). Even though your customers might think otherwise, there is no rule that says all your online and mobile banking must be free of charge.

Yet, across 10,000 U.S. banks and credit unions, only a handful are still charging for digital value-adds (other than expedited and/or P2P payments). The biggest outliers (all previously covered):

  • Regions Bank's variable mobile deposit fee dependent on speed of funds availability (post)
  • MyVirtualStrongbox (from DigitalMailer) deployed at 11 credit unions including Belvoir Credit Union; generally free, with optional fees for extra storage (post)
  • US Bank's per-item $0.50 charge for remote deposits (post)
  • Mercantile Bank's $4/mo consumer positive-pay service (post)

Please tweet new examples to @netbanker.

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Make Digital Banking a Profit Center
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Most digital innovations of the past 15 years have been justified with a combination of soft dollar benefits (aka intangibles) such as retention, customer satisfaction, competitive pressure, etc. Those are vitally important. But without profits/revenues, customer satisfaction is moot. 

So let's put an end to the "100% digital banking subsidy" and start charging something to those most likely to pay -- your digital power users.  If that segment coughed up an optional $3.95/mo for your Digital Gold account, you'd be earning a half-million dollars annually per 10,000 subscribers. That's money that'll come in real handy when the CFPB caps ODs at $15 each.  

What type of services might be included in this "gold/platinum/VIP/premium" account? It depends on your brand and market, but these could be relatively cost effective:

  • Priority service (4-hour turnaround time)
  • Dedicated email/text message address
  • Expanded "Help" hours/availability
  • Expedited funds availability
  • Higher limits
  • Additional security assurances/alerts/monitoring
  • Lengthier statement/image archives
  • Free intra-family transfers
  • Special edition (different skin) mobile banking app
  • Random membership perks (local deals, 2-for-1 dining, etc.) 

Check out more ideas in the Netbanker archives or refer to our annual planning report (subscription).

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Note: I run a variation of this topic every year or so, along with the occasional full report.

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Categories: Fee Income , Pricing

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