Why Aren’t Legacy Banks Better?

I’m curious. With simple things like instant notifications for payments still relatively being “fintech-only” but really a far better way of managing your spending, without being too “hateful” towards any one bank: why aren’t legacy banks introducing basic things like this?

Is it the tech they use? Do the systems not allow for, say, push notifications? It just seems incredible that basic advances aren’t implemented.


One of the main reasons is legacy bank backend computer systems for account details were built in the 1970’s or 80’s that are still used in 2020. Banks layer new tech on top of the old tech which isn’t the most efficient way. TSB is the poster boy for trying to update legacy bank systems to a more modern system which went horrifically wrong.

Another is being incumbent legacy banks who didn’t think they had to do anything and didn’t feel the need to innovate.


The halifax has push notifications I think?

However there is a more straightforward reason that a lot of monzo fans do not like - most users do not care and so it is not a priority. The percentage of users that care about categorisation is small.

Stuff like freezing cards has spread quicker so clearly is a feature that banks think customers will value.

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HSBC and Lloyds Group now offer instant notifications though they’re pretty limited


One man’s better is another man’s…

I could name a few things legacy banks are far better than Monzo at. (But I won’t because the sun’s out and I’ve got better things to do).

I think instant notifications are gimmick. If I’m using my card to pay in the supermarket I don’t need a notification telling me I’ve done it.

But I agree with others I think it’s a matter of perspective. You only have to look at the number of complaints on here to see that there are many things that Monzo and other fintechs are pretty crappy at

A lot of them should kill their existing apps, hire some world class product designers and begin with fresh, modern UX with the aim of making them simple, functional, and delightful.

So many of them are a confusing mess of random design hodge-podged together that make you jump through tons of hoops to achieve basic tasks.


What if it’s someone else using your card in the supermarket? Is it not useful to be able to see instantly that your card has been stolen and is being used by someone else?


I think this is a bit of a short-sighted view.

Instant notifications are also good for:

  • Knowing when a Direct Debit has gone out
  • Knowing when someone else has paid you, whether a salary, bill split, or random gift from family for example
  • Knowing as soon as possible if your card has been cloned or details leaked and someone’s trying to use it
  • Knowing when a recurring card payment has renewed for online services like Netflix or Spotify
  • Knowing when pre-orders have shipped - Amazon for example generally don’t charge for pre-orders until the product has just shipped. Sometimes I pre-order stuff months in advance and then it’s a nice surprise when the charge comes through as I’d usually forgotten that something was about to come out.

In 2018, I was on holiday in Fuerteventura. My Starling app notified me of two fraudulent payments (I was a victim of a Ticketmaster hack) - without this information I’d have been none the wiser, and at the end of my holiday potentially skint. This allowed me to transfer money out of my account to reduce any further risk and let me block and order a new card, which was sitting in my letterbox waiting for me to return home. This situation alone has taught me how vitally important Instant Notifications are.


I see your point (and the many points @simonb made afterwards) and instant notifications for non “card holder present” transactions can be advantageous but I do not think they should be relied upon as a USP or an alternative to be more aware of where my banks cards are.

I do agree they work well for things like direct debits and some other functions. For example Lloyds send you notifications for:

  • Upcoming direct debits
  • weekly summaries
  • incoming payments

But to me they are still more gimmicky than they are beneficial


I get it!! Some people on here find instant notifications helpful, but it doesn’t take much to find examples of banks using them as reasons not to compensate people for fraud because “you must have seen the notification”

Sorry all but if instant notifications define whether or not a bank is good all the fintechs will overtaken very soon

I also bank with Bank Of Scotland, and their notifications are that “dumb” that my app tells me when I’ve transferred money from my linked savings account to my current account. It’s literally a transaction that only someone with access to my online banking can perform. Another strange caveat is that if I send money from Monzo to BOS, Monzo tells me straight away, BOS tells me about an hour later… it kind of goes against the premise of being “instant”

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Can you post links to some of these examples? Because I’m struggling to find any of them myself.


To be fair, quite a few of the fintechs should be looking at doing the same thing. Many of the more modern products are just as over-engineered and poorly designed, i suppose in part to look more than they really are. But then we end up with a product that feels like it was designed by software engineers for software engineers.

No UK-based bank that I’ve personally used feels like it was designed by a truly great human interface design team. We still tend to treat design as an afterthought to an engineering first approach, instead settling for something that’s just appealing to look at on the surface, but isn’t great to use.


Every month, on the 1st, Halifax tell me (around lunchtime) that I’m overdrawn and must pay in funds by 3:30pm.

When I login, just to quell the fear it induces, I see my account in credit. For a split moment, in the early hours when FPS and DDs run, I was overdrawn. Its a zero sum account across the month.

As another example, Barclaycard tell me my credit about a week delayed. They can’t even tell me that my card payment (to clear my balance) was successful, until 5 days after. Monzo, however, tell me its processed immediately.

@anon75400416 its not just about being told you’ve just spent on your card, it’s about being in control of your finances. In the examples above, I shouldn’t need to login to avert any anxiety about actually being overdrawn. My bank should just help me. Instead, I have to sign in, skip (for the millionth time) the “new feature tour”, ignore all the offers I’m shown, just to see my balance isn’t as the notification stated.


100% this.

I hate how even now my legacy bank, particularly over weekends, can sometimes not show the right balance. Some transactions take time to show on the app even though the available balance has reduced too.

It’s about control.

I don’t understand how legacy banks can’t give us this control under existing apps. If the available balance can update, why can’t the transaction show instantly? These kind of things.


It’s bizarre. I have Monzo Plus, and I’ll occasionally see a transaction on my credit card in the Monzo app the day before it appears in my Nationwide app.

I suspect that one of the reasons might be that they anticipate a substantial increase in support enquires if they were to implement instant notifications. You only need to see the number of enquires on this forum regarding pending transactions to come to that conclusion.


True point actually. I still think that would be a poor reason to deny it.

I don’t want to be cynical but sometimes I think banks don’t want to give us too much control because with lack of control comes missed payments, overdrafts, fees and ultimately money for the bank through debt.


Yet they are significantly more successful banks than those with pretty apps (not talking just about Monzo). They know where to put money to give a return.