My bank is a bank, not my friend

Here we go folks. I am about to contradict myself. But maybe not, I can’t decide. Maybe you decide. Ok, here goes.

Five years ago, I wrote on Finextra that when it comes to social media, a bank should behave like a person, even if they are a bank. See here. 

At the time, the post was about a poor unfortunate woman named Natalie Westerman, who’s Twitter ID was … wait for it… @natwest. So you can guess, cue RBS/NatWest bank meltdown and her little Twitter feed became unindated with irate customers.

Before closing her account, I noted that she was the perfect picture of grace and patience calmly directing people to the actual NatWest Twitter account @natwest_help. I noted that if it were me, I would have tweeted “F*&%-off Twats, I’m not the bank!’ instead of taking the high road like Natalie.

All of this was happening at the time when there were many commentators and blogs and gurus advising banks to be a bit more personal. Conference presenters would title their Power Points with with bold statements like “I want to be friends with my bank!”(trust me, they did).

I myself made a bold statement. I wrote in June 2012 that “…on social media – respond like a person, not like a corporate, PR-approved, broadcasting robot. (well…a polite and patient person anyway :-).”

But now, a few years and more grey hairs later, I am not so sure.

What do you want from your bank or your financial services firm.? One that can send and receive money – your money – when you are at home or abroad or attending a global FinTech conference in Amsterdam? You want that service to work, that’s what. And when it doesn’t work, you want customer services to respond to your ‘customer chat’ query ASAP.

What you don’t want from your financial services provider is a response like this.


Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good Robert Downey Jr gif as much as the next person. But is this the correct way to respond to a customer, who is having problems with your FinTech app?

For those not knowing the context, our dear FinTech Queen (I am the FinTech Fairy Godmother – keep up people) Leda Glyptis was having issues with her Revolut app during Money 2020 Europe last week. After 16 hours and no response from the customer service chat, she sent this Tweet:


The resulting social media thread, which ended up including the best known FinTech Fareaster Drew Graham, spoke about the broken promises of digital banks. 

I know what I want from my bank or FinTech app. I want it to be fast, secure and stress free. I think we all know we don’t want to be ‘friends’ with our bank – via customer service or on social media.

But are we now entering an age where FinTech startups have given up on being ‘your friend’ and resorted to being ‘your snarky acquaintance on Twitter?’

I expect to see a bevy of keynote presentations addressing this topic at a FinTech conference very soon.

UPDATE: Supposedly, there was a, now deleted Tweet, regarding a rival challenger banks customer service reputations. Deleted Tweet or not, Revolut is a financial services company, a FinTech provider, their corporate Twitter feed should reflect the type of maturity  needed by a organization that deals with your money. Revolut does not sell hamburgers, its Twitter feed does not promote Kim Kardashian’s latest perfume, it is a company that operates in financial services. Sarcastic gifs, from the corporate account, regarding a customer service matter, is a sign of immense immaturity.



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