Wells Fargo, America's Worst Bank, Decides It's Time To Fix Its Busted Tech

Photo: ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP, Getty

Anyone who’s banked with Wells Fargo is likely familiar with its appallingly outdated technology and maddening user experience. Apparently, even the company understands it’s bad—very, very bad—and its new plan for survival reportedly involves dragging its embarrassing tech into the twenty-first century in order to satisfy regulators and its customer base.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that the bank’s decrepit technology has made it difficult for the firm to keep up with various requirements that should, in theory, be an afterthought for one of the largest banking chains in the United States, including outdated employee pay monitoring and financial advisor tools. According to the paper, the company was using manual processes to handle employee pay and job assessments for hundreds of thousands of employees as recently as last year—which seems concerning, again, for a bank as large as Wells Fargo.

But, of course, the tech issues aren’t limited to archaic pay systems and poor employee resources for things like analytics. As just one example, the Journal cited an outage last year at bank’s primary data centres that disrupted customer access to mobile and online banking—essentially the primary way many customers access their banking—as well as the ability to see paychecks or direct deposits in their accounts. A tripped fire system evidently led to the shutdown, and the Journal cited employees as believing that up-to-date backup systems weren’t in place to prevent such an issue.

This is to say nothing of what should be deemed criminal overdraft fees that have put customers in the hole even after they’ve closed an account—another glaring issue evidently related to the bank’s computer systems—as well as the fake-account fraud scandal that cost the bank hundreds of millions of dollars to settle with U.S. states and the federal government. Remember when a computer glitch resulted in hundreds of people losing their homes in a foreclosure mix-up? That really happened. The bank’s persistent oversights and technological fuck-ups have marred its public image for years now, and it’s a wonder the bank’s still in business at all.

I should know—I did business with America’s Worst Bank for over a decade before eventually jumping ship last year. There was no single issue that led to this decision. The problem with Wells Fargo is that it feels like the entire system is specifically engineered to test the limits to which it can push a customer until they finally snap. I am not alone in feeling this way.

The company seems to realise that it must do something, and quickly, if it plans to retain its customers. Charles Scharf, who joined the company as CEO last year, reportedly told employees in a meeting that the company needs “to be a technology company,” the Journal reported. But there’s an argument to be made that no amount of technological overhaul can or even should convince wary customers to trust that Wells Fargo can get its shit together. Who the hell wants to bank in the year 2020 with a firm that’s consistently exemplified its own ineptitude? Who wants to hand their money over to a bunch of clowns?

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