It is time for something better. It is time for Mobile Banking 2.0.
That is a thought that is bubbling throughout the mobile banking community and the plain fact is – excepting perhaps a couple of the money center bank mobile apps – most of the apps in consumers hands are very much Mobile 1.0 products.
They are static, unengaging, and a proof is that at most institutions the vast majority of interactions via the mobile channel take less than a minute, mainly because most are quick balance checks.
Plain vanilla apps will never drive more engagement.
The goal in Mobile Banking 2.0 is longer, better engagement.
The scramble is on to get there.
Fueling this pursuit is a belief that – at least with younger consumers – before opening an account at a financial institution they test drive the mobile app. Bad apps flunk out. These are users that want apps that make banking fun, but also fast and of course secure.
One big step in the direction of better next generation apps: decoupling mobile banking from online banking, said Frank Almeida, vice president, retail and marketing, at $576 million First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union in Fairhaven, Mass.
He elaborated: “Mobile apps, although they need to be fully integrated with all other delivery channels, need to be decoupled from online banking for enrollment.”
Almeida’s belief is that more of us are choosing to go mobile only – an iPad is replacing the home computer, for instance – and for that reason the mobile channel has to become independent of, and no longer parasitic on, online.
The mobile channel of course also has potential powers that online cannot have, such as pinpointed location awareness. A decoupled, mobile centric app can focus in on those strengths.
In a related vein, Almeida also believes that big changes will come to the mobile channel as more credit unions roll out true tablet apps, something he said his credit union will do this year.
The bigger, more inviting and easy to use form factor of a tablet, suggested Almeida, will immediately up engagement. With the right – slick – app, spending an hour on an iPad is fun, not a chore, and for sure the biggest banks are already well down that trail. Meaning that credit unions have no choice but to charge down the very same path.
In a related vein, Dan Chaney, CEO of FI-MOBILE, a Round Rock, Texas, mobile presence provider to financial institutions, said that it no longer is good enough to force consumers to download three, four, occasionally more apps to do the banking job that ought to be done in one convenient and well unified mobile app.
What he is pointing to are the institutions – stuck in the early days of Mobile Banking 1.0 – that tell their consumers to download a separate app for mobile remote deposit capture, maybe one for locating ATMs, a third for bill pay, a fourth for personal financial management.
All that produces, said Chaney, is a disjointed user experience and disengagement.
What consumers want instead is a unified app – a single user experience, said Chaney.
He also fingered a problem where a handful of apps developers provide most of the credit union industry’s mobile banking apps: “They all look and feel the same,” said Chaney.
So in Mobile Banking 2.0, apps will be unified, coherent, but they also will be more customized, to the issuing institution and perhaps even to the individual user. That sets a very high bar to hurdle but it just may be essential in achieving Mobile Banking 2.0.
Another area where the bar is getting higher will be loyalty programs, said Michael Hemsey, president of Kobie Marketing in St. Petersburg, Fla.
He predicted: “By year's end mobile banking apps will increasingly include a loyalty component as consumers seek genuine engagement with their (financial institutions) in real time. And those loyalty programs, pegged toward expected customer behaviors that drive two-way communication, will strive to offer more than just percentage discounts on purchased items. Banking apps will be more user friendly, and include elements of gamification while offering a seamless interface.”
The keys here will be better targeted – more pertinent and timely – communications, the kinds that will get people honestly interested in seeing what their credit union is sending their way, suggested Hemsey.
Financial institutions of course are well positioned to do exactly this – they have access to deep data about their customers and their spending habits. Harness that info, deliver smart offers to on-the-go consumers, and that is a big step towards realizing a genuinely engaging Mobile Banking 2.0.
A last, big area of activity in shaping Mobile Banking 2.0 is a drive for vastly enhanced security, mainly because security worries show up in survey after survey as a primary deterrent against more consumer usage of the channel.
If people don’t trust it, they will stay away from it and it doesn’t matter if the research suggests mobile is in fact a safer channel than online.
Thus, experts such as Andrew McLennan, founder of Metaforic, a San Jose, Calif., security company, said that perhaps the biggest frontier in defining what Mobile Banking 2.0 will look like is stepped-up security.
He predicts that mobile banking security will become “far more app oriented,” meaning that it will rest upon authenticating the integrity of the app – is it safe from malware? Is the device?
This will likely happen with very little involvement required of the consumer.
“We can authenticate the integrity of the app before the user is allowed to log in. That definitely is coming,” said McLennan.
Add up the ingredients: more truly mobile centric, more unified and customized, more relevant offers, and safer. That just may be the recipe for Mobile Banking 2.0 and, for sure, it is a better, tastier mix than today’s Mobile 1.0.