What is an Online Bank?

I’m thinking today about the first chatter I ever heard around the idea of an online bank. I was working for a traditional bank and I remember being skeptical, like everybody else, and thinking: There’s no way anyone’s going to pull that off. People won’t be comfortable not having branches they can walk into. How could an institution like that ever attract enough customers to matter?

That was the mid-’80s. Hairstyles were big.  The Internet was small. People actually waited to get that monthly bank statement in the mail so they could balance their checkbooks. And over the next decade or so, a few online banks did start up. Most didn’t make it. The timing wasn’t right.

It’s hard to pin down when the tipping point came. Doesn’t it seem like one day we all woke up and Web connections were everywhere? Bit by bit, people got comfortable with – and even dependent upon – doing all sorts of things online. Traditional banks saw opportunity there and started offering the option of handling some transactions remotely, investing more in technology and security to make it safe.

For me personally, the hook was paying bills online. I hated that initial process of setting up all of my payees, but I haven’t sat down and written a check since. The old way suddenly seemed so inconvenient. I started to realize that my bank’s online services were more valuable to me than its branches.

Turns out, a lot of banking customers were having the same realization. So here at Ally, we decided to focus on what people need most – and to never stop improving upon how we serve those needs.

So far, that means striving to provide better customer service – 24/7. Better products. Better interest rates. Things I look forward to talking about on this blog. But here at Ally, we know that earning your business means listening, too. So if you have an idea or notice something we’ve missed, please let me know. My name is Diane Morais, and I lead the Deposits and Innovation team here at Ally. With your help, we intend to stay very busy.

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  1. 1

    To me, an online bank means: bank anywhere, bank anytime, bank any way you want.

    If Ally can save money by not having branches, and turn that savings into benefits for its customers, awesome.

  2. 2

    So far, I’m really happy with Ally. I would like to know if mobile banking is in the works. Are you planning on implementing something something like that soon? Thanks!

    • 3

      We love hearing that you are happy with Ally. We want to give customers convenient account access and mobile banking is definitely a feature we are pursuing. On the topic of mobile, we just launched ally.mobi – a site with product information and contact options that was designed specifically for mobile devices. We’ll post news here about other mobile features as they become available. Thanks!

  3. 4

    Also very happy with ally. However I am getting frustrated with how far behind ally is in the mobile banking arena. It is critical for an online only bank. All of my other banks have iPhone or android apps and mobile sites to conduct banking activities. Chase and USAA even allow mobile deposits using the camera on your mobile phone! If Ally had an app like this I would be A very happy customer! Until then I am constantly tempted to leave.

  4. 5
    Michael Levine

    I was looking at your website and products. When I was wondering are you a savings bank or a national bank? I do know you are an online/ direct bank, but so is ING direct and they state they are a federally charted savings bank. Is Ally is that catagorie too?

  5. 7

    I’m a fairly new customer and I really like Ally, but also do not like the lack of a mobile app of some sort and a better way to deposit checks. I have an Android, but would even appreciate a mobile web app. I agree with the other comments that you guys are behind the times and I’ve been reading through a couple other postings on your site in regards to this and it seems that it has been the same answer over and over for months now, “We’re working on it.” If I don’t see something soon, I am going to have to move everything over to my ING accounts. Shoot, even my little credit union can be accessed through mobile web :/

  6. 9

    Thanks for your feedback, Barney! We certainly appreciate it, and will pass it along to the right people over here. Also, be sure to “like” us on our Facebook page as we’ll be opening up the Page for suggestions very soon on what else you’d like to see from us.

  7. 10

    I’d also love to see a mobile app (iphone). The lack of mobile app is the only thing keeping me from closing my Chase account completely and moving strictly to Ally. That’s only if the app includes scan deposits.

    • 11

      We’re working on a mobile solution for our customers, Dominic. Glad you’re otherwise happy! Rest assured that we’re listening and it’s definitely something on the docket. Thanks for the feedback.

  8. 14

    Would really like both and iOS and Android app from ally, a mobile site would work too. Can’t believe ya’ll don’t have one yet. Any ETA on it?

  9. 16

    I’m an Ally customer and devoted android user. Are you working specifically on an android application for Ally? I would love to be able to check balances and conduct transfers among my Ally and non-Ally accounts without having use the browser on my G2!

  10. 19

    Is there any ETA on the mobile site/app yet? This is something that would really be beneficial for myself and others. Until this becomes available I will keep most of my money elsewhere so I have constant access to it.

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