Long before fintech was a thing (1995), I launched the first, and by most measures the biggest, paid newsletter during the first two decades of online/digital banking. It was called Online Banking Report and was read by a sizable portion of major industry players. It’s still going under the stewardship of fintech-famous Jim Marous, who modernized the name to Digital Banking Report (which recently opened its archives for free access).

An ongoing feature in the first 20 years was an ad hoc OBR Best of the Web awarded to new digital features which raised the bar in online/mobile banking. And each January, we ranked all previous recipients into a master list. The last one, published in Jan 2014, featured 50 innovations (see below).

Note: These are the rankings from 10 years ago. I will update with milestones from 2014 to today and publish next month. I’m taking suggestions here (so far: crypto, BNPL, earned-wage access, chatbots, deposit networks).

Innovations from 1995 to 2014 (with launch dates)
Note: Ranking as of Jan 2014

  1. Wells Fargo is first in the world to offer Web-statement access (launched May 1995)
  2. Security First Network Bank launches first full-service Internet bank brand (Oct 1995, disbanded 2002)
  3. PayPal launches first online optimized payment system (Nov 1999, bought by eBay in 2003)
  4. BayShore Trust (Canada) is first in the world with real-time online loan approvals (Mar 1996, bought by Trimark Oct 1996)
  5. NextCard launches first credit card optimized for the Internet (Dec 1997, liquidated 2002)
  6. Bank of Montreal launches first real-time, mortgage-loan approval, powered by AMS (Mar 1997)
  7. Beneficial Finance is first in United States with real-time mini-app loan approvals (Jan 1997; bought by Household)
  8. Citibank and BancorpSouth are first to offer downloadable retail mobile phone app (April 2007)
  9. Britton & Koontz First National Bank launches first triggered email-alert system (July 1996)
  10. Prosper opened first person-to-person loan marketplace (Feb 2006; Zopa UK was first in world in Mar 2005)
  11. River City Bank adds personal finance functionality to its website (Aug 1997)
  12. ING Direct launches savings-online Internet bank, ushering in the era of high-yield savings (Sep 2000)
  13. CompuBank launches first Web-based interbank funds-transfer system (Oct 1998; bought by NetBank)
  14. CompuBank is first with multi-factor authentication: an extra password for interbank funds transfer (Oct 1998)
  15. OneCore launches first Internet-only bank optimized for small business (Dec 1998; banking disbanded 2001)
  16. Bank of America launches first iPhone mobile banking app (July 2008)
  17. Citibank launches first bank-branded, financial account-aggregation service, powered by Yodlee (July 2000)
  18. DeepGreen launches first online home-equity loan with real-time approval (Aug 2000; folded back into Third Fed)
  19. E-Loan launches first major internet-only online mortgage brokerage (July 1997)
  20. QSpace introduces first online credit-bureau report (Aug 1997; bought by Experian)
  21. Lending Tree launches first retail loan marketplace (June 1998; bought by IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2003)
  22. Chase is first major bank to use SMS for account-info queries (Sep 2007)
  23. AT&T is first credit card to offer cardholders specific online fraud protection (May 1996)
  24. X.com is first with seamless integration of banking and value investing (Dec 1999; merged with PayPal)
  25. Mint launches first “Web 2.0” online financial management system (Sep 2007)
  26. Cardlytics launches first in-statement automated card-linked-offer service (Jan 2010)
  27. Credit Karma launches first completely free (ad-supported) credit score (Feb 2008)
  28. USAA and WV United FCU launch remote check deposit via mobile phone (July 2009)
  29. Simple launches real-time balance forecast (June 2012) (KeyBank is the first bank with it, Nov 2012)
  30. Online Resources launches the first prepackaged premium online banking channel (Aug 2003)
  31. neoSaej launches Money Aisle, the first reverse auction for retail deposits (June 2008)
  32. NextCard launches real-time balance transfer for existing cardholders (Feb 2001; liquidated 2002)
  33. KeyPoint Credit Union and mShlft launch first banking application on a social network (Facebook) (Nov 2007)
  34. PeopleFlrst Finance pioneers blank-check auto lending (Aug 1997; bought by Capital One)
  35. BillGuard launches transaction-monitoring service (May 2011)
  36. Finsphere launches first location-based mobile fraud targeting service, PinPoint (Aug 2010)
  37. CharterOne introduces the first suite of triggered alerts with voice, email, fax, or wireless options (Aug 2002)
  38. USAA launches remote deposit capture service for consumers using home scanners (Dec 2006)
  39. Personal Capital launches first Web-optimized, personalized asset-management service (Sep 2011)
  40. Capital One launches first non-alphanumeric mobile login (Nov 2013)
  41. Trusteer launches secure sandbox for online transactions at ING Direct (May 2008)
  42. Mitek launches remote photo bill pay allowing users to pay bills via mobile phone camera (Oct 2010)
  43. Yodlee launches mobile financial collaboration tool Tandem (Sep 2013)
  44. doxo launches first complete ebilling file cabinet (Nov 2010)
  45. City Bank of Texas is first with mobile on/off switch for debit cards, powered by Malauzal (Jan 2012)
  46. billQ is first to allow users to subscribe to transactions via RSS feeds (July 2006)
  47. Verity Credit Union is first financial institution with a company blog (Dec 2004)
  48. PSECU provides real-time credit for mailed-in deposits (Nov 2001, update 2011)
  49. Wesabe launches first banking application with widget interface (Dec 2007)
  50. Vantage CU launches banking via Twitter (Oct 2009)

Unranked recipients:

  • Frost Bank launches first two-way security alert (May 2014)
  • Square introduces the “CC” function for P2P payments via email (Oct 2013)
  • Capital One allows mobile deposit via .jpg file upload (March 2013)
  • First Financial is first financial institution with mobile phone billpay (March 2013)
  • Mint has first financial app in Mac store (July 2012)
  • Westpac NZ launches “easy button” for checking-to-savings transfers (March 2012)
  • Commonwealth Bank and Westpac NZ both introduce “no login” mobile account balances (19 March 2012, 15 March 2012)

Source: Online Banking Report, Jan 2014; Finovate (fka Netbanker) blog archives 2004 to 2014