I’m betting you don’t carry a checkbook anymore. Sure, you might have one buried in your purse or tucked in the drawer in the desk where you pay certain bills, but there’s no need to tote one around anymore. Thanks to mobile and online banking, you can confidently make buying decisions just by checking your balance to see if there’s enough cash in the vault.

What should we target for irrelevance next? My list starts with the concept of monthly statements, paying a stack of bills on a weekend, and the biweekly or monthly paycheck. Too often, though, we make it hard for customers to think outside the box because we ourselves still think inside of it.

Let’s take the standard monthly statement. It is an irrelevant document for consumers who log into digital banking to check balances, monitor alerts, and scroll through transactions. If that’s the case, then what’s the rationale for framing finance in monthly periods? That thinking might be essential to corporate CFOs sizing up month-over-month cycles, but it’s a low priority for kitchen-table CFOs who live paycheck to paycheck. Accepting that is essential if we’re going to redesign digital banking and change financial habits.

Paying bills is another example where the industry’s mindset must change. A fintech vendor once asked if I thought consumers really want to pay bills on a smartphone in a taxi. I countered that they don’t want to blow an hour on the weekend to pay a stack of bills either. But they endure the weekend chore because digital banking still forces them to reach for paper, pencil, and a calculator to determine if they can afford to pay bills by the due dates. The dread of that leads to procrastination – and that stack of bills. Bankers can’t use consumer habits as an excuse for not upgrading. Mobile payments will get a turbo boost if we arm consumers with the ability to estimate their cash flow reliably and confidently with only a glance at their smartphones.

And then there’s the paycheck. It is a reality born in a paper era, for the convenience of the employer. When you get down to it, though, we’re all basically day laborers who don’t get paid in cash as the sun sets over the field. But in an era when money is digital and moves in real time, aren’t employees entitled to access their pay, without having to ask for a cash advance or taking out a payday loan?


About Mark Schwanhausser

Mark strategizes how financial institutions can track and serve customers across the channels they use, and provide a consistent, integrated brand and user experience. Mark helps banks and credit unions profitably enable customers to monitor and manage their money more intelligently through technology such as online banking, mobile banking, personal financial management, financial alerts, and technologies on the horizon. 

Mark led the development of Javelin’s Digital Banking Maturity Path, a strategic framework for assessing a financial institution’s ability to deliver advice in digital channels, and the Financial Journey Model, which builds digital banking on a foundation of time-tested personal finance principles. He has also mapped out strategies to upgrade online banking, digital account opening, and financial alerts in a mobile-first era. 

Before joining Javelin, Mark was a personal finance reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. He covered money and emerging trends in financial services and payments technology.

Mark has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and attended Antioch College.

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