In a digital payments world, human support still reigns: Here’s why

There has been a sharp rise in the number of online payments firms and digital-only banks in recent years. Lower costs, increased choice and speedy technology are just some of the benefits enjoyed by consumers and business customers making cross border payments with these new entrants.

Technology can be key for digitising processes and automating payments. In an effort to streamline customer support and reduce costs for example, many banks and fintechs have introduced chatbot technology.

But is this technology, as part of the digital-first mindset, being adopted at the expense of those it is supposed to serve?

More human interaction required

Although chatbot technology has been around for a while now, new innovation has seen LLM (large language models) technology adoption which makes interaction more human and query handling becoming more sophisticated.

According to Global Banking and Finance review however, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the United States reported that complaints were received by the 37% of US citizens who had dealt with a bank chatbot in 2022.

The takeaway here is that customers still like to be served by a human being, especially when it comes to important matters like finance

In an article on FinTech Global, a recent report by UK experience services firm Foolproof highlighted the desire amongst customers for more human interaction in their banking experience.

Key findings from the study reveal that:

  • 46% of banking customers seek human interaction
  • 47% of customers find chatbots unhelpful in answering their queries
  • 74% of customers think banking is not personal enough.


Not just human support, expert human support

The Foolproof study highlights the fact that people like to do business with people. And it is not simply a case of the struggle with chatbots and automated messaging that people struggle with.

Simply having a human support team is not good enough when it comes to managing and protecting the finances of a demanding public.

We’ve all had the same experience with many financial providers. You make a call only to be passed from person to person or put on hold for what seems like an eternity. So, the issue here is not so much about failure to speak with a human, but to speak with a human who knows how to solve your problem.

When businesses make cross border payments for example, large sums of money are often involved to pay suppliers. Time is of the essence. Delayed or missing payments can lead to disruption in the supply chain, strained relations with vendors and ultimately lost sales and a damaged reputation.

Who do you turn to when your payment is lost in the international banking system? Is a chatbot going to tell you that the IBAN or Swift code was incorrect, or that due to regulatory compliance issues, your payment to China has been stalled?

Even when you do reach a human, the seemingly complex nature of the query means that calls are passed from pillar to post in the hope that somebody, somewhere may have the expertise to offer you hope.

Recent research revealed that 25% of CFOs and treasurers at SMEs cited the lack of expertise at traditional banks for B2B payment queries. It also noted that this percentage climbed to 30% when foreign exchange was factored in.

A Central Bank of Ireland report on call waiting times on the customer support phone lines at the main retail banks highlighted this issue.

The longest call wait times in some of the retail banks was unacceptably high, with customers waiting over two hours in some cases. The number of customers abandoning calls was also high – one phone line had an abandonment rate over 50%.


Customer service roll of ‘horror’

The rise of the digital-only bank has transformed the international payments offering for consumers and business customers alike.

But as incidents of financial fraud also grow, many clients of these new fintechs are becoming disillusioned with the lack of support they are receiving but also concerned about the limited protection that covers companies licenced as e-money providers.

This was highlighted in a  Financial Times article, which underlined the issue one business customer of an online only bank had experienced.   This customer received calls from irate vendors to say his bills had been unpaid, only to discover that the online bank had frozen his account.

The customer’s money was blocked from leaving the account and he was denied access to over €1mn in balances. The fact that the online bank only communicated with its customers exclusively over a messenger function in its app only exacerbated the problem.

After many fruitless attempts with the messenger service, the Irish based businessman declared “We couldn’t get a human being,” Needless to say, the client ceased trading with this particular online-only bank.


He is not alone in his frustration. The FT (Financial Times) article revealed that with the advance of these online only banks, there is also a surge in complaints from customers throughout the EU and the UK.

Yes, convenience is great, faster payments – superb. And although inconvenient, it’s not going to break the bank if a €100 transfer goes missing.

But when you are sending €100,000 to pay for an overseas property or paying for raw materials for a product that needs to be released within a certain time limit, then you need the peace of mind that human support brings.

This point can be best illustrated in the roll of comments below which are becoming all too common on the social platforms of many online-only banks.

Source: LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn

Source: Facebook



Fexco: Innovative payments technology, supported by real people

At Fexco, we are revolutionising the way businesses and individuals navigate the complexities of global transactions. With a steadfast commitment to unparalleled customer service, we’ve become the go to payments provider for reliability and efficiency in the ever-evolving landscape of international commerce.

We offer transparent, user-friendly solutions designed to simplify your international payments. Whether you’re a small business, a multinational corporation, or an individual with high-value money transfers, our platform adapts to your requirements, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience.

Say goodbye to automated responses – we believe in genuine human interaction tailored to your unique needs.

Click below to contact our team of experts. Whether you have questions, need assistance, or are eager to explore our services further, we’re here to help you.


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