Wells Fargo Seeks Partnerships to Give Mobile Users Better Experience

Wells Fargo has been going through a rough patch lately, but the bank itself is focused on moving forward.

This is especially true when it comes to digital banking. The San Francisco-based bank is looking at partnerships as a way of improving banking experience for its current digital users (including mobile).

“We are trying to be as aggressive as we can when it comes to partnerships,” Braden More, EVP, head of partnerships and industry relations, told Bank Innovation.

While looking at partnerships, there are three key facts Wells considers, More said: 1) commerce; 2) safety; and 3) simplicity.

“As a bank, we know that technology is changing the old paper business, and partnership with players that are already involved in the financial space or the ones that are coming into it are important to us,” said More. “The two initial questions when considering a partnership [are] always, is it safe? And is it commercially viable?”

Wells has a market capitalization of about $263 billion.

Another important consideration for More: does the product simplify the customer’s experience?

“That’s why our relations with Apple, PayPal, our own digital wallet, or Facebook are important to us because [each partnership] enables a digital, mobile way of banking for our customers, especially millennials,” said More.

Whether Wells Fargo partnerships will expand the bank’s number of mobile users is another story.

“We promote,” he said. “We want to make customers aware that the capabilities are there, but how they pay is less important to Wells Fargo than the fact they use us as their bank.”

Interestingly, over the past few quarters, the growth rate of its mobile users has plateaued. As Bank Innovation previously reported, Wells Fargo’s growth rate for mobile users of less than 1% last quarter is lagging behind its peers. The bank currently has 20.4 million MAUs, according to its earnings report last month, compared to 22.9 million and 28.4 million MAUs at Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, respectively, in the quarter.

But that’s beside the point More is trying to make.

“It’s an energizing phase we’re in when it comes to partnerships.” More said, “With interesting partnerships like the one with Facebook Messenger, we are distinguishing ourselves from our peers.”

Wells Fargo will be announcing more partnerships soon, however, More would not disclose any specifics.

One area of interest at Wells is payments, which More described as the “lungs of the ecosystem.” Additionally, More is particularly excited about is tokenization.

“We like the security associated with tokenized  mobile payments. We’ve rolled out our own capability through Android that allows customers to go through the Wells Fargo app to look at their balance as they make transactions,” said More. “With tokenization, you reduce the surface areas of attack and add more security. If you think about our control tower, we like the idea that customers have control over their tokens so that empowers customers without adding more complexity.”

Wells Fargo Control Tower is set to launch in 2018. Read more about Control Tower here.

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