Bank of America's transaction description editing feature

October 19, 2008

I am now using Bank of America and their Internet banking. It has many aspects and bugs that I don’t like, but there is one little feature that is really smartly done.

Here is an excerpt of my statement.

You can see three transactions here. So, by default all transactions have the machine-generated long ugly description, but what is unique here (and what I havent seen in any Internet bank) is that they only show a part of it by default so that it gets cut off, and then they let you edit it. You can see one transaction with the default long ugly description, and one where I have edited it, and one where the editing box is visible (clicking on the triangle on the left opens it).

I find this to be really smart design (even if somewhat sneaky). I don’t know their original motivations of doing it, but it is a great example of a feature that is directed purely towards affect, i.e how people emotionally connect themselves with the product. It has zero functional value, as all your banking keeps working 100% the same, whether you do these edits or not. But there is me and many other people who simply like looking at a more neatly formatted statement and making the descriptions more personal, so I have found myself editing all these descriptions now. And this keeps me on the site longer, which is good for the business.

Oh, and dear Skype, if you are reading this, then please stop annoying me and millions of other people living in America with your merchant fees. Every time I buy something from Skype, I get slapped with this extra fee because I am using my card to buy something from a non-US company. Just get a US entity to process your payments and you will make US paying users a lot happier.