According to Berg Insight, the total number of users of mobile banking worldwide doubled to 55 million between 2008 and 2009, and again doubled in 2010.

The major banks (Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.) already have a substantive mobile presence, with even community banks on their heels. But breakthroughs aren’t found in repetition, but in meaningful innovation that’s value-added.

Mobile Disconnect

May 2011 study from Foresee shows mobile banking is lagging far behind other channels in customer satisfaction, with only 2% of retail banking consumers preferring it to online and branch banking. Why the disconnect? Rowland of Introduce The New believes that it’s because the mobile banking features offered aren’t new functions, but what customers already expect from their bank and can already get online. However, the few institutions that go beyond this cost of entry position by designing bold user experiences in ways that reaches beyond what’s already available online or at bank branches have an opportunity to succeed at attracting customers. Banks aren’t just competing with each other on the mobile app market, but with every other app that’s available.  “Non-bank thinking”  is needed to allow customers to use the mobile platform in striking, new ways.

He sites these examples of extraordinary mobile banking apps:

1. Bump-to-Pay / Wave-to-Pay

In March, PayPal unveiled its Bump to Pay mobile app feature which allows users to transfer funds between each other by entering a dollar amount into the app and then “bumping” their phones together, which  makes transferring between customers fun, interesting and distinctively mobile.

Companies like Google and Payfone are rolling out Near Field Communications technology will allow consumers to make point-of-sale purchases by waving their phones over a sensor instead of swiping their credit cards.

2. Click-to-Deposit

USAA released the first mobile app to offer remote deposit in 2009 —  the ability to deposit checks by snapping pictures of them using a smartphone camera, receiving high tribute in the New York Times. Only Chase presently offers remote deposit, released almost a year later. A research study conducted by financial services strategy firm Mercatus showed 43% of mobile banking customers cited remote deposit as the mobile banking feature that would most likely encourage them to switch primary banks.

Thinking Outside the Bank: 5 Factors in Increasing Mobile Adoptation

John Moon, manager of mobile adoption marketing at Fiserv, writes in American Banker about 5 factors that will bring all financial institutions to recognize the benefits the mobile channel offers. Those benefits:

  • Lower cost to serve.
  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Retention.
  • Higher return on investment.

However, he notes that many financial institutions attract early adopters within a year of offering the service, but progress then stagnates to include just a small additional percentage of adopters over the next two years. He states that financial service providers need to leverage key drivers of consumer adoption to establish mobile financial services as the norm. There are five factors of consumer acceptance are these: Consumers must decide if mobile financial services are 1) useful, 2) accessible, 3) secure, 4) familiar and 5) easy to use. Here is a more detailed discussion of these five factors of adoption.

1. Make the Case That Mobile Is Useful.

Knowing what customers find useful can enable financial service providers to develop marketing messaging that will resonate with potential adopters. To accelerate broad adoption, providers need to offer compelling answers to the question, “Why do I need to transact through the mobile channel?”

2. Provide Access to Mobile Through All Devices.

Simply put, the more accessible a product, service or technology is, the greater the opportunity to use it. To break through the glass ceiling and attract additional users and transactional activity, the mobile channel must be made more attractive and accessible. Providers should ensure mobile accessibility for as many customers as possible and support multiple platforms and devices, including tablets, to tap into a broader customer base.

3. Help consumers overcome security concerns.

The perception that mobile transactions are less secure than a desktop computer, laptop or card-based transactions is a big factor to overcome in turning skeptics into users. To convert a greater share of the mass market, perceptions about mobile security must be properly addressed.

4. Familiarity creates a natural transition across channels.

Consistency in branding and experience across channels allow for an easier and more comfortable transition from one channel to another. Facebook, for example, does an excellent job of providing consistency. Consumers enjoy a consistent experience when they access their Facebook accounts, no matter what channel, platform or device they use. If a mobile offering is consistent with what is presented in other channels, consumers will recognize and feel comfortable with the service.

5. Mobile services must be easy to use.

Technology is intended to make life easier, but if it’s not easy to use, only early adopters or tech-savvy consumers will continue to use the technology. In a market where new technologies and feature sets are rapidly developed and promoted as differentiators, providers need to understand the importance of balancing the sophistication of the technology with simplicity for the consumer.

To ensure mobile services are easy to use, providers should deliver an intuitive user experience that eliminates the need for training prior to conducting simple activities. Communication with customers via posts and collateral about the benefits and ease of mobile use will also be effective.

To extend the benefits of the mobile channel to the broadest possible range of customers, banks must think outside the bank.

 

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