The digital banking boom is still booming. On a fundamental level, this digital banking focus has centered on a singular goal: providing a great customer experience. But in the realm of banking statements, it seems bankers—and customers—are at a crossroads. Should banks continue to invest in paper statements, or have digital statements muscled out the old standard?
The answer isn’t as cut and dried as some might believe. In fact, when it comes to allocating the banker’s budget, the topic can be downright polarizing.
Traditional eStatements vs. Digital eStatements
When considering whether your institution should prioritize budgets for paper statements or digital statements, it’s important that a distinction be made between traditional eStatements and digital eStatements.
Before the digital banking boom, consumers were content to receive their monthly bank statements in the mail. But through the advent of the internet—and more specifically, email— many financial institutions now offer eStatements directly to their customers’ inboxes. These traditional eStatements, usually sent in a PDF format, save the institution print and mail costs, but do little to enhance the customer experience. This is because a PDF, much like a physical paper statement, is a static document. And while customers might be happy to reduce the clutter in their mailboxes, a PDF in their inbox doesn’t exactly provide the “wow” factor of mobile banking, social payments and other notable digital banking staples.
In contrast, digital eStatements utilize HTML5, which enables customers to interact with their banking statements as they would a webpage. Much like internet banking, the interactivity of digital eStatements allows your customers to search for specific transactions, date ranges, amounts and merchants anytime from their mobile device or computer. Consumers can use this functionality to easily create a budget, detect fraudulent activity and verify monthly expenses. The digital eStatement bridges the promise of an enhanced customer experience with the cost-savings of eDelivery; a formidable one-two punch for any institution’s digital strategy.
Customers Still Want Paper Statements
Despite the digitization of most of the financial sector’s core services, many of your customers still prefer—and rely on—paper bank statements. Though it is important to provide a great digital experience, these “print and mail” customers cannot be overlooked. And while you might think that older generations hold a monopoly on paper banking statements, that is not always the case; here are a few reasons why customers of every age might prefer paper statements:
- Limited internet access: Not every household in America has access to high-speed internet. Specifically, customers who live in low-income or rural areas might rely on paper statements because they simply cannot connect to the internet.
- Paper trail: A physical record is, arguably, easier to maintain for the not-so-digitally savvy. Some consumers prefer this method of record-keeping and will insist on paper statements from their bank to facilitate that requirement.
- The fear of being hacked: Many consumers do not understand the intricacies of data hacking and cybersecurity threats, but they will be the first to pull away from anything digital your bank offers when they hear news of the latest mega-breach.
Further, financial institutions are still legally on the hook to provide paper statements to customers. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act still inhibits financial institutions from switching customers to digital or eStatements without their consent; and it’s likely that consumers who have opted out of these digital options won’t change their minds anytime soon.
So, should you invest your budget in digital or paper banking statements? The answer is, almost always, both. While it is important to deliver an outstanding digital experience to the customers who demand it, there will always be a segment of individuals who rely on paper statements. And while this is not ideal from a cost perspective, it is still a necessary expense that can be attributed to delivering a superior customer experience.