Big banks top 5 online media center designs

Banks’ digital media centers often resemble a bullet-pointed Word document, circa the mid-1980s. As newsrooms are the website space designated for banks to broadcast their most newsworthy news, it’s interesting that from a design perspective, most banks have left their newsroom pages to fossilize and petrify.

However, a few banks are breaking free of the monotonous newsroom mold to offer up a content product that’s actually alluring.

Here’s our top 5.

United States

BNY Mellon

In 2014, BNY Mellon released its revamped newsroom, and boy, a lot of thought went into it. After years of going down the beaten press release track, the megabank decided it was time for a change. “We recognize that that’s not how people consume their news currently,” said Colleen Krieger of the bank’s corporate communications in the newsroom’s release video.


Instead of bullet points, the newsroom is organized more like a magazine interface, in keeping with millennial reading preferences. The content itself matches the design’s millennial vibe, with world finance news coexisting happily with top exec interviews, blockchain experiment announcements, and tips from BNY Mellon interns. 

J.P.Morgan Chase

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the United States’ largest bank by total assets has invested in its news design, and it shows. Although the newsroom itself is fairly drab, their news tab is current. The bank hasn’t entirely done away with the bullet-point press release system, it’s only one facet of the newsroom – and it’s in blue. The rest of the newsroom consists of a mix of written, visual, and video content arranged in boxes of varying sizes.


For the parent company, the newsroom is very community-oriented, showcasing a number of programs and bank employees that are dedicated to giving back. While Chase’s newsroom is a grid of boxes with smiling people giving down-to-earth financial advice, it appears the company doesn’t think this relaxed vibe should extend to its investment arm. JPMorgan’s newsroom is a press release listicle in blue.

United Kingdom

The Royal Bank of Scotland

The UK’s third largest bank by assets easily wins the UK newsroom design competition. While the Kingdom’s other four big banks have stuck with the tried-and-true bullet point system, RBS’ newsroom is much more similar to JPM’s boxed blog-like format, with vibrant images to go with a wide range of topics: financial advice, economic analysis, developments and the bank, and CSR.


European Union

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank also seems to have grasped the basic principle that the listicle newsrooms of yesteryear are out. Instead, the German bank’s media center has opted for an assortment of boxes with news inside. However, the design – and the content – is much less vibrant than BNY Mellon’s. The colors are more subdued, the boxes are side by side, not interlocked, and the announcements are for bankers, not youngsters.


Still, replacing the list system with the box system demonstrates that Deutsche Bank is thinking out of the box. Interestingly, online German bank N26, whose tagline is “Banking by Design”, wasn’t particularly creative with its newsroom design.

ING Bank

ING Bank’s newsroom design is a long way from BNY Mellon’s Pinterest-like interface, but it wins points for adding a splash of color, the brand’s trademark orange, as well as pictures.

So while their newsroom is still just press releases, it looks more like a media publication than a list typed up on a word processor that’s still running on Windows XP.

At least they’re trying.

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Big banks can bust a move

We get so caught up in innovative fintech startups that we sometimes lose perspective when a larger institution does something to shake things up. Gidon Belmaker had an interesting look into how ING inspires fresh thinking in its ranks and how it brings these ideas to fruition in new products and services. Through employee-targeted contests and an in-house incubator, the bank acquired 650,000 new customers in the first half of 2016.

With outside help from technology and UX firms, big banks are also working on rolling out personalized banking experiences. “The banks are locked in on an ‘old model’ mindset,” said Pau Velando, general manager of Strands, a company that offers digital money management software to financial institutions. “They think more in terms of banking and less in terms of providing value added services to their customers.”

USAA today has its own customer advocates. Hadas Tayeb focused on a particular disability advocate at the financial services firm who designed a new machine reader for check deposits for the visually impaired. In general, USAA has recently upgraded its check technology. Checks may be dead over the long term but that hasn’t stopped the firm from providing services that people need and are asking for today.

Millennials enjoying more financial tools

If it can get out from under its debt load, the largest generation is going to have a lot of financial platforms to help it save and invest for the future. Student loan refinancer, CommonBond is betting on that scenario. With a recent round of funding, expanded debt facility, and acquisition, the firm has created what its calling a 401(k) for student debt, which essentially turns debt repayment into an employee perk.

N26, the European digital bank, recently received a German and European banking license and Josh Liggett describes how the startup is stepping things up with increased focus on the customer and product offerings.

““We tried to be very transparent, and tried to change fundamentally the cost structure behind everything,” said CEO Valentin Stalf. “Our customers understand that the model has to be sustainable, transparent, and fair. We tried to respond honestly and transparently, and we focus on the core value proposition of simplifying your financial life.”

Finance connects to the world around it

No longer content to remain in its predefined in-store and internet boxes, payments is trying to bust out. Expect to see payments in almost anything that’s connected. Soon, your jewelry, your fridge, and your car will be able to pay for things on the Internet of Things. Here are 5 innovative IoT payment products.

Automation in the financial industry is also taking curious forms. Softbank robot Pepper is set to sell insurance at 80 stores in Japan. Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co will be deploying 100 Pepper robots across 80 branches in Japan to help out on the sales floor by 2017.

Financial services for the rest of the world

Financial services conform to the environments in which they serve. Different technology and pricing environments produce substantially different solutions. Take Africa, for instance. There, fintech isn’t disrupting the banks. It’s creating them. Mexico also has its own financial ecosystem that’s showing signs of embracing new technologies. China will soon kick off the second round of awarding licenses for private banks. Five private banks had opened for business in 2015. Some of the aspirants said if they receive the banking license, they would concentrate on providing financial services to technology companies.

Fintech meets big data…er, big survey data, that is

There was a lot of research published this week about banking, banking customers, and financial ecosystems. Worth checking out are these various pieces:


How ING uses culture to develop innovative products

ING Group released its quarterly earnings this week, beating analyst consensus figures by 40 percent.

The Dutch bank attributes the increase in profits to the success of its customer-first strategy, which puts a strong emphasis on innovation.

This strategy, the bank claims, helped it acquire about 650,000 new retail customers in the first half of 2016. The bank’s core lending grew by EUR 14.8 billion in the second quarter.

ING recently launched a slew of digital money management products. The bank added a forecasting feature to its mobile banking app in the Netherlands, which enables users to gain more control over their finances. ING in Spain launched a digital financial advisor called My Money Coach that helps customers to manage their current and future personal finances. And similarly, in France, the bank launched Coach Epargne, or Savings Coach.

In addition, ING joined forces with a Belgian bank to launch an integrated mobile payments and loyalty platform. This solution merges the loyalty platforms of both banks, with ING’s Payconiq app.

Payconiq was developed by bank employees in its accelerator. It’s symbolic of how structural and cultural changes can have bottom line effects.

About 2 years ago, ING appointed a Chief Innovation Officer that reports directly to the CEO. The Chief Innovation Office, with a team, resources, and responsibilities, was given the mandate to be a facilitator of innovation and transformation within the bank. Words like agile and lean, a staple in Silicon Valley vocabulary, are now part of the bank’s handbook.

One of the major changes is project-based teamwork, which acts as a catalyst for breaking organizational silos, explained Diederik Heinink, from ING’s corporate communications office.

Based on an identified customer need, a group of the most relevant people from various departments are gathered together and tasked with developing solutions. Doing things this way, the bank hopes, will ensure shorter time-to-market and more customer-centric offerings.

“It is very much about collaboration, sharing, and openness,” Heinink said. “We want to tap into the talent of people we have in house.”

Once a year, the bank hosts an innovation bootcamp. The competition allows anyone of its 50,000 employees a chance to submit product ideas. The top 10 submissions then move on to compete against one another.  The top 3 ideas are incubated alongside three fintech startups in the bank’s accelerator.

Last year, about 1200 ideas were submitted by bank employees. Payconiq, the bank’s mobile payments platform, was developed in this manner.

The push for innovation is part of the bank’s Think Forward strategy, which was crafted to offer better solutions to changing customer demand, mostly around speed, user experience and mobility. The bank focuses on empowering customers to take better control of their financial lives through the use of the bank’s products,

Among the core areas the bank focuses on are payments, lending, robo advice, money management, working capital solutions, and financial markets. Recently, ING started cooperating with Kabbage and funding loans on the platform. Currently, the bank is working with about 45 fintech startups, according to Heinink.

“We can learn from the startups’ agility, entrepreneurship, and know how,” he said. “They can tap into our strong brand and 35 million customers.”

Banks are increasingly aware that they need to collaborate with fintech startups in order to win over customers, who are less and less loyal to one brand. As customer habits change, many banks are charting their own courses of innovation, finding the right balance between homegrown innovation and partnerships.