In an early May report, the Credit Union Times called for a revolution in the world of banking apps, a “Mobile Banking 2.0” that fixes the problems of the first forays into the field and yields real customer engagement.
According to the article, the current generation of mobile banking apps are static and unengaging — at most institutions, the vast majority of interactions via the mobile channel take less than a minute. For younger consumers, these utilitarian functions do not impress. The ability to test out apps or at least look at screenshots online means that Internet-savvy customers can check out apps before they open accounts at banks. Financial institutions without interesting, value-adding apps stand to lose younger customers who choose banks based on how easy they are to operate through phones or tablets.
This is far from mere conjecture: A recent Yodlee Interactive study showed that satisfaction with mobile banking apps has become a key point of loyalty for customers, rising up the list with 33 percent of those surveyed saying it was the biggest influence — only general customer service, convenience and low account fees scored higher.
One way to make the switch to engaging mobile banking is to think of banking apps as entirely separate from online bank sites — a different technology that requires new approach — and makes room for unique features. One hopeful contender for a Mobile Banking 2.0 advance is a U.S. Bancorp experiment with voice recognition technology (powered by Nuance) that allows mobile users to voice spoken requests and receive information on interest rates, fees and potential promotions, among other types of account information.
Interestingly, the Yodlee study also showed that banks that tried to use the same mobile features for both tablets and smartphones might be shooting themselves in the foot. “Banks have focused on smartphone apps, but stretching the same app to work on a tablet seems to have backfired as consumers are opting for mobile web experiences on tablets,” reported Yodlee general manager Joseph Polverari.
This disparity in reactions is one reason why companies like Intuit Financial Services are offering tablet banking apps designed especially for tablets. Also notable is the Intuit move to start offering Mint.com capabilities for online and mobile banking. Mint specializes in customer-centric graphs, budget planning tools, and account advice — the partnership allows banks to distribute this type of content through their own apps or sites. Moves like these go a long way in engaging customers, but more proprietary, bank-specific tools would no doubt be appreciated by customers.
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