ICICI Bank iMobile app UX issues

I am a loyal ICICI Bank customer for many years. For the last few months they have been agressively pushing their new iPhone app – iMobile to me. Everytime I logged into my internet banking account, a reminder about iMobile would greet me. It was mentioned in their alert messages, their website, etc. It was impossible to start your internet banking session without clicking on one of the three buttons: Download iMobile, Remind me later, or I already have iMobile!

I didn’t think it was possible to lie about it, so I bit the bullet and downloaded this app. There was a findability issue on the ‘app store’ as search for “ICICI” did not fetch any results. “iMobile” on the other hand worked, but it is bad news for the brand. The app having the brand name in it would have helped. there is CNN app for accessing news on CNN. Why shouldn’t there be an ICICI app to do banking with ICICI?

Upon download I was greeted with this screen:


Create Pin box looked clickable at first, then looked like a text field. Turned out it wasn’t both! The grey text “Required” was where I was supposed to type a PIN of my choice! Upon hitting NEXT, I was commanded to send an SMS to icici letting them know I wish to use this app.

I opened ‘Messages’ and started composing ther sms, since I was not using pen and paper, I did not remember the long code, so I switched back to ICICI app. And to my shock, I was taken back to the first screen! So I had to again choose a PIN to continue to the next screen and read the long code.

This time i remembered the long code that I needed to send the message to, and switched to Messages. Thankfully, unlike the app, Messages had saved my draft. I sent the mesaage, and a quick reply came back with an activation code. It was a 10 digit code. Psychology and cognitive science says that a human being can only remember about 3-4 sets of 3-4 things in their short term memory. I tried defying this rule and remembered the 10 digit code and switched to iMobile. Sure enough, my progress was again forgotten and I landed on the PIN page. Angrily I put the pin twice. Perhaps it was the anger that made me forget the activation code. I cursed not having a pen and paper nearby (I had a sketch app on iPhone but I did not dare switch to any other app again!) I just gave up on my efforts. I was not going to be forced to use a pen and paper, even if that meant that I was going to be deprived of operating my account from my iPhone.

It was less than 24 hours that someone from ICICI bank’s helpdesk called with a polite question about why, in spite of downloading the app, had I not activated it! I narrated my experience. “That is the procedure for iPhone activation, I am afraid”, the guy said. I told him I was not going to use the app unless someone fixed this issue.

So this was the last ever screen I was going to see if I continued, adamantly not to use pen and paper:


Sooner or later I will give up and activate it. Definitely if I don’t want another call from the helpdesk or again be shown the three buttons at every internet banking session.

I think this is bad for the brand. And it is unfair towards their marketing team, who are trying so hard to get people to download the app. There are number of Interface issues as well. But that is not as big a showstopper as the activation issue. Apple has a stringent app review process, but this must have escaped their scrutiny, because to spot this error, a real life activation sequence is required.

ICICI, on the other hand, should have a more stringent app review process. Evidently, their helpdesk is more responsive than their tech team. Hope they solve this and make their app truly mobile and free from the clutches of paper-pen-dependancy.

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