I signed up and have been using the Up Bank app for two months now. And there is no denying the work that has gone into making for a smooth experience. The one thing to take away from this review is that Up Bank have created a slick app. It’s clean, incredibly intuitive and easy to use. And what it lacks in terms of banking functionality, it definitely makes up for in convenience. It’s definitely easy to get hooked to it.
Up Bank app review: TL;DR
- It’s a slickly designed app – No two ways about it.
- The focus is on crafting a smooth experience. You’re going to engage with the app in ways you wouldn’t have thought of doing with a banking app.
- “Basic banking features” missing.
- The focus is not on building banking features but on building features that form habits.
- Up Bank is building for addiction – They’re thinking like an app, not like a bank.
Up Bank app features – No pin login
I can only begin to imagine the number of “but what happens if…” arguments that the Product team must have had with Risk while pushing through this feature. When I open the app, it goes straight into the app. No login screen, no pin screen, no second factor authentication – they deserve massive props for this feature alone.
Up Bank app features – Activity stream
Up Bank lived up to their promise that the banking experience would be more “app” and “bank.”
The icons and the colours are the first thing that jump out at you. They’re little things but they give you an idea of the attention that has gone into crafting the experience.
I like that they went with with ‘money in’ as green but left the ‘money out’ as black, rather than red. After all, I can’t imagine too many people would be thrilled to see so much red every time they log on.
The only unfortunate part is that, just like every other bank, my name breached their character limit.
Up Bank app features – Merchant labeling
The other feature that Up Bank had hyped up was cleaner merchant/store labels along with relevant icons. Up Bank presents the merchant names as their real names rather than their corporate names. No more tapping your card at a new coffee shop and later wondering what on earth “XAVIER TURNBULL PTY LTD FOR TURNBULL FAMILY TRUST” was and what prompted you to give them $3.50 earlier today.
What’s also worth calling out is that if Up Bank is not able to identify the merchant, you can help them out. And unlike the similar (but entirely half-baked) feature by Qantas Money, you only need to update this once, and all past and new records for this merchant will reflect the new information.
Up Bank app feature – Spare change roundup
It might be safe to say that spare change roundups have now become a standard banking feature. Up Bank does it by default and worth mentioning that there isn’t a way to turn it off.
Up Bank app review – Savers tracker
This screen deals with tracking the spare change roundups. At the moment, all my spare change roundups go into the default “Savings” bucket. I believe that you’re able to create multiple buckets for different savings goals and assign specific amounts to each bucket. I plan to explore this feature in detail in a later post.
Up Bank app feature – Payments tracker
This screen tracks all the incoming payments in one place. And clever little add on, you are able to name and tag each incoming payment as well. So the app asked me whether “This is me funding my Up account” and if not, to create a new contact.
Up Bank app review – Customer support chat
Probably the best review you can give customer support is this: It worked and it wasn’t painful at all. As for what I asked them, I’ll leave it to you to figure out whether I actually did something that dumb!
Up Bank app – Banking features missing
I can’t pay bills with Up Bank.
Up Bank currently does not support BPay. So you can’t pay bills with your Up Bank account. They’ve said that this feature would be available by Q3 2019, a couple of months away.
While this may seem like an odd thing to do, it make a lot of sense.
Final thoughts: The Up Bank app is building addiction
Up Bank’s focus right now is getting people addicted to their app. If the word ‘addiction’ is too strong for you then let’s call it a “habit-forming product.”
Here are some, just some of the benefits of habit-forming products:
- Every time a user commits an action with the product, it strengthens their ties to that product. More so when they put something back into the product. Users are less likely to leave a product after they’ve made significant contributions to it. That’s why Up Bank encourages you to “help them out” by identifying merchants.
- Users that get hooked to your products are more likely to tell their friends about it. And once they become evangelists, they became less likely to leave.
- Habit-forming products build bias: Humans avoid cognitive dissonance. They choose, instead, to anchor to one piece of information that supports their decision. So tomorrow, if/when a better product comes along, it’ll become near impossible for Up Bank users to leave because:
- They’ll refuse to even believe that a better product is possible.
- They’ll keep coming back to the features that they love about Up Bank, which were designed to get them to form a habit.
Up Bank claimed that they’re going to think like a tech company, not like a bank. The core strategy of banking incumbents is “How can I sell more products?” The core strategy at play here is “How can I solve user problems,” followed by “How can I build a habit-forming product?”
The Up Bank app supports all these claims.