Sunday, 18 November 2018

Facing Fears & Closing The App Gap With Natwest

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that since turning 36 I've been on a bit of a mission to face my fears and try to overcome them.

I've always been plagued by numerous fears and as my children get older, I've started to become very conscious of the fact that my own fears could so easily be passed on to them, which of course I don't want.  And so, I set myself the goal of overcoming as many of them as I can.

I started last year by facing my biggest and most restrictive fear of all, flying - and after taking a course I managed to overcome that fear completely, and have since been able to take flights with my boys with no problems.

The next fear on my list to conquer was heights. This is one that only really kicked in once I became an adult, but it's one I really struggle with - on days out with the boys I often find myself sitting out activities or rides if they're too high up, and I hate that feeling of missing out. 

Luckily for me, I was contacted by NatWest to take part in an exciting challenge they'd come up with to encourage people to face their fears.

The day involved travelling to London to find out all about the results of their latest research around the behaviours and concerns of people when it comes to digital banking, and what they're doing to help people overcome their fears around well as the opportunity to face our own fears too!

Of course, I couldn't say no.

The morning started off with a discussion panel over breakfast to find out what the research had shown, and what NatWest are doing to help their customers.

Some of the results of the research was exactly what I would have expected - for example, 62% of people said they enjoyed using apps to save time.

But some of it was actually very surprising. One result that really stood out to me was that 18-24 year olds were actually more concerned about app safety and reluctant to use digital banking because of this than over-55s, who you might expect to be the less tech-savvy age bracket.

Personally, I'm a big fan of using apps for all aspects of life - I have apps for everything from grocery shopping to time management, and as someone whose working hours are a bit chaotic I find it difficult to get to my bank during it's opening hours which means digital banking is a life saver for me. I use it for everything, and regularly use the chat function to resolve any issues I have rather than going in to branch.

On the opposite end of the scale are my parents - my dad in particular has a real fear of technology, and refuses to use his debit card at all for fear of identity theft. He only bought a mobile phone a couple of years ago, and won't consider digital banking because he simply doesn't understand how to get started, what to do or how to keep things secure.

So, I was intrigued to learn about how NatWest are planning to assist customers like him.

In attendance at the breakfast panel were Honey Langcaster-James, a behavioural expert, and two members of staff from NatWest - Rachel, a Community Banker and Charles, a TechXpert.

NatWest currently employs 89 Community Bankers (available in selected areas) who are based in local communities and even offer home visits to help customers with their banking needs, and TechXperts are available to help people understand and get to grips with online and mobile banking (online and app eligibility criteria applies) offering advice on the security features in use and how to get the most out of them.

These two new job roles have been designed specifically to help put customers at ease when it comes to banking and help them to feel safe and secure no matter what their banking preferences, which I think is fantastic. I know my own Dad would really benefit from having someone sit down and go through the process of using a banking app with him, who could answer his questions around the security of online banking.

Throughout the panel discussion I also learnt more about the features of NatWest's banking app and I was really pleasantly surprised. I use the same app through a partner bank and I thought I knew everything it could do, but even I discovered some great functions that I hadn't realised existed 

One of my favourite features was the ability to put a temporary stop on your credit card if you think it might have been stolen or misplaced, but you're not 100% sure. There have been so many times where I've misplaced my card but haven't been completely sure it was actually lost - reporting it lost in these circumstances can be a real pain as you know it will take a few days for another to arrive, and chances are - the card will turn up later on! So to be able to simply put a temporary stop on it first until you're sure it's actually lost is, I think, a fantastic idea.

I also loved the fact that you can use the Get Cash feature (limits apply) even if you don't have your card with you. You can simply request a withdrawal from the app, and it will provide you with a code to use at the nearest NatWest cash machine - so handy for those annoying occasions when you've forgotten your purse! 
After learning more about the app and trying out the features for ourselves (all of which were super easy to do, as the app is so straight forward and user friendly) it was time to face our own fears head on...

by tackling...a Go Ape course!!

Yes, despite my awful fear of heights, I had agreed to take part in an obstacle course through the tree tops! GULP!

I have to admit, I was absolutely terrified - the bridges looked so high and many of them had no sides or anything much to grip on to, which filled me with fear.

But I was determined to at least give it a go.

To my surprise, once I was up there the heights didn't bother me as much as I thought they would - I fooled myself into pretending I was on I'm A Celebrity as I wobbled my way across the wooden bridges and actually quite enjoyed it. I found working with the rest of the team to be really encouraging - the other bloggers in attendance (Lynn from Mrs MummyPenny, Sareta from Hey Sareta and Aftab from Fresh & Fearless) were so encouraging, and Rachel & Charles from Natwest were fantastic at spurring us all on too.

I'll be honest though, I did only manage part of the course and a small zip wire before I'd reached my limit - and funnily enough it wasn't the heights that got to me, but another fear - claustrophobia! I reached a point in the course where we had to climb up inside a tight tunnel made of net, and I got halfway up before panicking as I just felt too enclosed.

But do you know what? I'm still proud of myself. Not just because I tried it and managed more of it than I ever thought I would, but also because I knew were my boundaries were and I was able to say "No, that's enough now. I'm done"

I'm usually the kind of person who fears speaking up and saying when they can't do something, instead pushing myself to carry on until I have a full blown panic attack and can't do any to be able to find my voice and say when I wanted to stop was an achievement in itself!

My day with NatWest and Go Ape was such good fun, and it taught me that facing your fears is made a lot easier when you know what to expect and when you have a helping hand to guide you - which is exactly what Natwest are offering those customers who are reluctant to embrace mobile banking.

To find out more about their services, please visit NatWest

*This post was written in collaboration with NatWest. 

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