Ensuring secure and fast access to the mobile banking app on a new phone is not only reducing user friction but also an often overlooked problem which could instead turn into a key differentiator for financial services.

On average, we switch to a new phone every two to a maximum of three years: batteries start to last less and less, applications run slower, and sooner or later, we buy a new phone. In the past, setting up the new phone was a lengthy process: plugging the phone to a computer to restore all settings, photos, and content. But nowadays setting up a new phone is a matter of minutes: sign up to your Apple or Google account, and the phone automatically synchronizes all the setup from your last device. That is why often the old device is sold, or given away, in a matter of days. There is a catch: Photos are all available, together with e-mails, messages, Whatsapp, and other social media apps. But two-factor authentication codes have not been synced, and similarly mobile banking apps are not accessible anymore. When you notice it is too late: you need to make your payments on the weekend, and the old device is not at hand anymore to let you log in to the e-banking website.

Why an easy account migration matters

Technology companies have spoiled us recently: everything works out of the box, everything is accessible fast, conveniently, and with very little friction. That is why even a single extra step, or minute spent too much, causes users to drop out from a check-out or onboarding process.

Similarly, when buying a new phone, if the bank account is not available immediately, users might stop using the service, especially if it wasn’t their primary bank account to start with. And while banks have invested a lot into a user friendly and intuitive app, they too often forget the gateway to their service: secure authentication.

The result is a lengthy and complicated process for the customer as well as a costly one for the banks themselves: users are forced to keep their onboarding letter, call helpdesk if they haven’t, sometimes more than once.

For most banks, when the user switches to a new device is still an unsolved corner case creating friction and costs. Studies show that 40 to 50% of all helpdesk calls burdening financial services companies are related to authentication: be it onboarding or logins. Countless calls could be spared by addressing these problems in a user-centric way.

3 aspects to consider for a user friendly account recovery

  1. Make it easy for users: do not require additional material, such as letters, or tokens, or separate mobile devices.
  2. Users are impatient, and they really need to get access to their online accounts. Account recovery should not be in the way of anything the user needs to do. It shall be fast, a few seconds at most.
  3. Do not assume users remember the process they performed three years before, nor that they read lengthy instructions on paper or on screen. The recovery process must be intuitive to complete, with as little steps as possible. As a rule of thumb: 3 steps or less.


Providing an intuitive user experience when using a service as well as when accessing it is key in today’s world. Time-critical services, such as banking, require special attention to all corner cases which cause unnecessary friction. Migrating to a new phone is one of the most neglected corner cases, and where user friction is often felt the most. 

This is a guest post from Futurae.

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