Wells Fargo is looking to focus its digital banking strategy as it emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown and completes an organizational restructuring.
Wells Fargo & Co. has taken the next step forward in driving its digital banking business forward after naming Ather Williams III as head of strategy, digital and innovation.
Williams joins Wells Fargo from Bank of America, where he was head of business banking and also served as head of Global Transaction Services, which delivered traditional, mobile and digital banking to companies and institutions around the world.
“Ather is a strong, experienced leader with nearly three decades of global banking experience and deep expertise in strategic planning and delivering digital and innovative solutions for customers and clients,” Charlie Scharf,” president and CEO at Wells, said in a company release. “He is uniquely qualified to lead this group that aligns our strategic, long-term planning efforts with our strong focus on creating a more innovative, digitally enhanced company.”
The San Francisco-based bank, which has 7,300 locations, 13,000 ATMs and $1.93 trillion in assets, created the position back in February as part of a larger restructuring of its executive ranks.
Wells Fargo officials are looking to focus on enhancing its digital presence following a prolonged business lockdown stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The new environment has forced incumbent banks to rethink their business models where customers prioritize remote work, personal safety and frictionless commerce.
“From first-time digital accounts and mobile deposits to requests for payment deferrals, millions of consumers have flocked to digital banking at a near historic pace during the pandemic,” Hillary O’Byrne, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo told Mobile Payments Today via email. “Wells Fargo’s existing digital customers are more digitally engaged, reflecting improvements in user experience and increased customer awareness of digital services.”
She noted that during the company’s second-quarter earnings report last week, Wells Fargo had a 21.5% increase in digital logins from the year-ago period, and a 108% increase in mobile deposit dollar volume from a year ago, reflecting the shutdown of branch banking and the increased use of technologies like remote deposit capture.
John Shrewsberry, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Wells Fargo, told analysts on the company’s quarterly conference call last week that while the bank’s 31.1 million digitally active customer count remained relatively flat, up 4% from the year-ago period, they became more engaged in digital banking activities.
For example, digital logins were up 10% from the first quarter and check deposits using a mobile device were up 32% from the first quarter. He said the bank temporarily closed about 20% of its branches due to the pandemic, and he noted that ATM transactions were down 19% from the first quarter and 28% from a year ago.
He said the bank still has about one million teller transactions taking place at its branches every business day.
“Over the medium term, we have the opportunity to materially reduce our expense, including increasing digital adoption for retail and commercial clients, reducing third-party spend, consolidating locations including branches, field offices and corporate sites and applying technology differently,” Charlie Scharf, president and CEO at Wells Fargo, told analysts on the call.
The bank last week stopped taking new applications for its Greenhouse by Wells Fargo standalone mobile app, which it launched in 2017 as a consumer personal finance and banking app.
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