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Sandeep Bagaria

Contributed by Sandeep Bagaria, CEO, Tagit

Sandeep Bagaria

Sandeep Bagaria

Mobile banking is taking the world by storm, accounting for over 590 million users worldwide, a figure which is expected to exceed 1 billion by 2017.

Today, when consumers are choosing a bank, a main consideration is whether the bank in questions offers internet banking. Similarly, mobile banking services and whether a bank offers this as a credible service is fast becoming a main priority for consumers.

Mobile technology is forcing banks to rethink how they engage with their consumers. While this technology provides a tremendous opportunity for banks to enhance their interactions with their customers, it has also given rise to a number of new competitors like telecommunications companies and direct banks, which continue to leverage the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones to offer financial services directly to customers.

In recent years, a number of banks in Asia Pacific have invested in mobile in the race for mindshare among increasingly technologically savvy customers. The mobile channel ranks as the number one priority for most banks.

In mature markets like Japan, Korea, and Singapore, banks are active in driving more innovative services to the mobile channel to differentiate themselves, while in emerging markets like the Philippines and Indonesia, the focus is more on capturing a larger customer pool by offering remittance and payment services.

There have been mixed results in mobile banking deployments in Asia, from highly successful initiatives like DBS Singapore that was ranked number 1 by My Private Banker in its Mobile Apps for Banking Report 2013, and United Overseas Bank (UOB) that that took top honors at this year’s Asia Banking & Finance Retail Banking Awards, to others in the region, providing only basic mobile banking apps to complete their channel offering.

In order for banks to create a successful mobile banking strategy, there are three main pillars they should consider; innovation, user experience and technology.

Innovation helps banks stand out from the crowd
Owing largely to recent advancements in technology, connectivity and speed, together with reduced cost and the increasingly easy-to-use nature of modern devices, we are seeing users transitioning their daily online activities away from their desktops, in favour of more convenient ‘on-the-go’ options.

One point worth considering is that it is not so much about the mobile phone, but rather about the consumer being ‘mobile.’ Providing this convenience for consumers should be the start of any worthwhile mobile banking strategy.
It’s important then, that banks look at what relevant services can they provide to consumers on-the-move. These could include services like location-based marketing that offers the right deal to the right customer at the right time, mobile payments at retail outlets or innovative financial transactions services like mobile cash, which allow consumers to withdraw money from ATM’s using their mobile phone.

By leveraging the power of mobile, banks have an opportunity to provide innovation in their financial products and services. Using lending as an example, although many banks provide basic loan calculators on their mobile apps, some banks have gone the extra mile to innovate. For instance, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) introduced their Kaching mobile banking app, which allows consumers to use the camera on their phone to point to a property and see if it is for sale, get more details on it and calculate whether they can afford it. The beauty of this app is that it allows the bank to be an active part of the consumer’s financial decision process to buy a property, rather than after the fact, when they have made a decision and are out hunting for the lowest rate loan.

Social media should also be considered when planning out a mobile banking strategy. For instance, Asia has a very high social media adoption rate, with countries like Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, having some of the highest usage rates in the world, according to digital analytics company, ComScore. Consumers, especially young people, use social media apps on their phone extensively. This presents an opportunity for banks to become part of consumers’ digital lifestyles. By offering services like social payments, banks can help to build relationships with consumers early on in their banking lifecycle.

With a robust mobile platform, banks can come up with creative ideas for service offerings for the mobile channel, delivering rich user experiences to driving customer adoption and loyalty.

Having the right technology
Banks have experimented with various technologies for their mobile channel, from native app development to hybrid apps and mobile application development platforms.

With the growing number of mobile devices and operating systems available, banks are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile application development platforms to enable them to rapidly build and deliver mobile apps across a variety of mobile devices.

In addition to standing up to the highest levels of security, stability and availability that would be expected of any banking software, these platforms have to be highly flexible in their integration capabilities to multiple backend systems and have development tools to allow them to deliver native app capabilities that fully leverage the advanced technological features of mobile phones.

The capability of the platform has a direct bearing on the quality of the mobile app delivered by a bank, both in terms of the innovative services offered and the user experience. The right platform can allow a bank to deliver a native equivalent experience at a substantially lower total cost of ownership.

The best user experience
The importance of the user experience provided by the mobile banking service cannot be undermined. Most consumers started their mobile app journey with gaming or social media apps, so their expectations are very high, making it important for mobile banking apps to live up to these standards. We often advise banks that where you may be forgiven for a bad internet banking site, consumers will not be so forgiving for a bad mobile banking application.

A good mobile banking user experience is simple, intuitive and contains relevant features for the customer. Axis Bank in India launched its mobile banking app with individual designs and services for its youth, mass and high net worth individual markets. Ultimately, it is about understanding the target audience for each service, and knowing what appeals to them. Where the service is targeted at high-end customers with interests in investment products, the application interface should reflect this, appearing differently from how it would look for young adults with different banking needs.

Other banks offer personalisation features, such as Maybank Singapore’s app, which allows customers to personalise their mobile banking app with their own pictures and frequently- used services.

A good mobile banking app also needs to acknowledge the cognitive and emotional aspects of the user’s experience. This can only be done through an interface that carefully curates content and offers ease-of-use for customers, while being able to perform sophisticated transactions.

In conclusion, while technology offers a broad spectrum of possibilities for banking services – innovation with the customer in mind is imperative. Most consumers have become increasingly disengaged with their banks as they hardly visit a branch anymore, let alone know their banker. The mobile platform gives banks an opportunity to re-engage with their customers. A successful mobile strategy is one that ensures that the service fits and exceeds customer expectations.

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