Go beyond the mobile banking app

June 10, 2013

A smartphone app alone does not automatically give a financial institution a mobile banking strategy, says Kęstutis Gardžiulis. 

In just a few years from now, laptops and tablets will be regarded as one and the same thing. Already, consumers are becoming used to banking via multiple channels and they have come to expect a unified experience whether they go into a branch, bank online or use a mobile app. Retail banking is facing one of the most important strategic changes in over a decade. Unfortunately, only a few financial institutions are even thinking about their mobile strategy, let alone combining multiple channels to deliver the multi-channel experience their customers desire.

Firstly – don’t be deceived. A poorly designed app with limited functionality and basic services like a branch finder isn’t a mobile strategy. Here’s an inconvenient truth: according to Mobile Banking Survey Report, January 2013 by Varolii, while 52 per cent of smartphone and tablet users in North America downloaded their bank’s mobile app, roughly 40 per cent of them say they have thought about deleting the app. And the dissatisfaction is even higher among the important 18-34 year old segment. Undeniably, expectations are not being met.

Secondly, just creating a ‘dumbed-down’ mobile channel doesn’t generate revenue, nor does it add value – it only confuses your customers. That’s why it’s essential to have a unique strategy for the mobile channel and to put a ‘mobile first’ strategy as one of the highest priorities for top management. And don’t forget to allocate the resources that will be needed to execute it properly; after all, the mobile channel will become the most important channel in the future. Only once your financial institution starts to worry about customers who don’t use traditional PCs, will you then attain the perfect state of mind to rethink financial services and products, and to restructure them in a true ‘mobile-first’ approach. And of course, you’ll also need the right methodology to measure the performance of the adopted strategy.

Thirdly, mobile-first thinking doesn’t mean mobile-only thinking – only that the primary user experience is focused on mobile devices. We’re not talking about scaling an e-banking website onto a mobile screen, or an app for mobile payments. The desired goal is to provide a redefined e-banking experience for customers by understanding when and how they use banking services. You also have to think about service-oriented design from the beginning too. The most appropriate approaches are able to adapt to all the different situations of our lives, provide us with the possibility of tailoring user interfaces to suit any special requirements and give immediate feedback on every financial decision.

Lastly, a responsive design approach is another hot topic for today’s multi-screen world. With a responsive design approach, there’s no need to integrate multiple front-end solutions with a bank’s legacy systems, or to have misadventures while managing content for multiple screens. Don’t forget that user experience and context are the new benchmarks of a mature mobile strategy.

Kestutis Gardziulis is CEO of Etronika