IPL designs and delivers highly rated mobile banking app for Nationwide
All the major UK banking players now have mobile apps, but a quick glance at the user reviews on the various app stores shows a lot of dissatisfaction and poor ratings. There’s one notable exception: Nationwide.
Standing head and shoulders above the competition on both Apple’s iOS App Store and Google Play, the app underlines the success of the user-centred approach taken by IPL, the company that designed and built it.
The way customers interact with banks and building societies is changing. Consumers now expect to be able to engage with their financial services provider in a variety of ways whether that’s in branch on the phone or online. The latest channel to see growth has been mobile, with forecasts suggesting that by 2016, the most common way customers will interact with their banks will be via their smartphones.*
Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, has extensive experience in mobile banking. In 2000, it was the first bank in the UK to introduce a mobile platform. In recent years, the dramatic growth in demand for Nationwide’s well-established internet banking and general self-service facilities, prompted the organisation to revisit its mobile offering a mobile banking app for iPhone and Android.
Richard Searle, Nationwide’s Head of Channel Integration said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, providing the consumer with a variety of ways to contact and engage with us is incredibly important as everyone is different and one size does not fit all. Identifying new trends and innovating the services we provide means we can anticipate the customers needs and deliver the best possible experience. Our online bank and mobile app are excellent examples of this..”
Having worked together for over a decade on many projects, including most recently its core multi-channel banking platform and new internet bank, Nationwide turned to IPL, along with IBM, to build its new iPhone and Android apps.
With a tight development timescale and a complex set of requirements, Searle explains the nature of the challenge that faced IPL: “The app needed to support an increasingly diverse range of smartphones and tablets without incurring on-going development costs. Furthermore, it had to deliver a highly secure and functional solution that’s not constrained by the small screen size or touchscreen features. We also needed it to minimise the impact it had on customers’ network data allowance.”
A user-centred approach
IPL’s role in the project was to design, develop, build and test the new mobile app, making sure it linked seamlessly with Nationwide’s array of behind-the-scenes systems. The entire project was customer-led, with IPL running a series of focus groups with Nationwide’s customers to determine the key things they wanted to achieve with a mobile banking app. IPL’s user experience designers combined these insights with their own expertise in developing easy-to-use and intuitive systems, to create an app that genuinely meets the real needs of real users.
Banks are some of the most complex, heavily regulated organisations in the world, and security is paramount, especially with sensitive data being sent over the internet. IPL’s team drew on the firm’s long-standing experience in delivering highly secure systems to ensure the app would provide a first-rate user experience, without compromising security.
Keeping down costs
Typically, apps written for one mobile platform won’t run on any of the others without significant amounts of recoding. However, IPL’s solution for Nationwide uses an innovative approach, whereby a single codebase can be used on iOS, Android and potentially others. This will vastly reduce the time, cost and risk involved when it comes to deploying to additional platforms in the future.
Searle explains the reasoning for this approach: “It is essential to have a mobile app that can run across the increasingly diverse array of mobile devices in the market without requiring continual expensive multi-platform recoding. This made the choice of a hybrid HTML5 solution an excellent fit to deliver the solution.”
IPL also used Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets (SASS), an innovative way of maintaining Nationwide’s desired look-and-feel across multiple platforms, without the need to maintain device-specific style sheets.
Excellent performance is key to a great user experience, and Nationwide’s app is designed to excel, even in difficult conditions, such as when the smartphone has poor signal coverage. To achieve this, it carefully balances what it stores securely on the device with information drawn from Nationwide’s servers, so as to provide a first-class user experience. This approach also minimises the app’s impact on the customer’s mobile data allowance.
The IPL design also includes a Content Management System (CMS) to enable Nationwide to deliver targeted customer messages and information. “The seamless design ensures Nationwide can exploit the ease of customer communication via mobile without incurring any performance degradation,” Searle adds. “This development will enable Nationwide to be far more flexible in the way customer communication evolves.”
Fantastic customer response
The response to the app has been incredibly positive, with user ratings on both the iPhone’s App Store and Android’s Google Play reflecting just how successful the user-centred design process has been in delivering a first-class experience that genuinely meets users’ needs.
Its ratings put it head and shoulders above the other UK banks on both stores, and Nationwide is already seeing its investment being justified. Searle concludes: “With the continued growth of smartphone usage, mobile banking is becoming an essential part of Nationwide’s multi-channel strategy. IPL, IBM and Nationwide IT staff have worked together as a single team to deliver an exceptional mobile solution that will provide real value to Nationwide’s customers and enable the business to realise a significant return on investment.”
IPL’s conscientious user-centred design approach has ensured Nationwide has a first-class mobile banking app that its users really value – as proven by its user ratings on the respective app stores. Key facets of the IPL project include:
The highest-rated UK banking app on the App Store and Google Play.
- An innovative ‘write once, deploy anywhere’ approach enabled IPL to reduce the cost and risk of developing for iOS and Android simultaneously.
- A future-proof design that can be deployed to other mobile platforms in the future without significant recoding.
- A consistent look and feel across different smartphone platforms.
- An app designed to minimise the amount of data it sends across the mobile network.
UBX appoints new Chief Investment Officer
In line with its strategy to explore and invest in companies and platforms of the future, UBX—the Fintech and Corporate Venture Capital arm of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) — is announcing the appointment of Matthew Kolling as the company’s Chief Investment Officer (CIO).
As CIO, Kolling will be managing UBX’s Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund. He will also play a key role in raising capital for UBX while assisting the company in key corporate transactions, including the structuring of joint ventures and acquisitions.
Prior to his appointment at UBX, Kolling has been Head of Venture Investments at Aboitiz & Company since 2019, wherein he had been working with UBX on investment portfolio decisions. Before that, he held senior positions in Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Investment Banking at firms such as Providence Equity Partners and Morgan Stanley in New York.
Kolling has more than 20 years of experience in managing investments and deals in the Technology and Telecommunications industries and is active in Venture Capital and startup communities in the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. He currently chairs the Manila Angel Investors Network, among others.
“We at UBX are excited to welcome Matt as our new CIO. We firmly believe that Matt will be instrumental in driving value creation opportunities, both within the CVC fund and our corporate ventures. We look forward to working with him as we fulfill UBX’s vision of a future where banking services are embedded into everyday experiences that matter,” said UBX president and CEO John Januszczak.
Meanwhile, UnionBank president and CEO Edwin Bautista said, “The addition of world-class talents in our pool reinforces our strategy to future-proof the organization and our business as we prepare for many new opportunities that come with the changing times.”
It’s all relative: Older generations feel helping out the family financially is more important since the Covid-19 outbreak
Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping younger generations out financially, that increased to a third as a result of the pandemic
A recent survey* conducted by Hodge has revealed that the Covid pandemic has led to more people wanting to help younger family members financially.
A third (31%)** of those questioned said that since the Covid outbreak giving a financial gift to children or grandchildren is more important to them, compared to 23% who said it was a priority before the pandemic.
The traditional “Bank of Mum and Dad” is still very much open for financial help, with parents being responsible for 72% of the gifts, but the study also revealed that financial gifts can come from all corners of the family – including children (14%) and siblings (14%).
The survey also found that a third of people have received a financial gift from family, with those aged between 25-34 as the most likely to receive
The most popular reason for gifting money to family is for special occasions such as a quarter of gifts were given for weddings and birthdays but 11% of people have received money to help with big purchases such as cars and houses. In addition, 19% of people have received help with day to day finances, with around 14% of those receiving a gift have done so to pay off debt.
Emma Graham, Business Development Director at Hodge, said of the research: “Our study showed that, as a nation, we all want to help our family out when it comes to money. And whilst we all think of the Bank of Mum and Dad or Gran and Grandad as a traditional source, we were surprised to see that 14% of brothers and sisters are also helping out.”
The findings come from a recent intergenerational study conducted by Hodge, who interviewed over 3000 people about their attitudes towards finances and their aspirations for the future. The full research findings can be found at https://hodgebank.co.uk/2020/05/19/money-its-all-relative/.
As part of the study, people were also asked about paying back the gift, with 40% of beneficiaries expecting to pay their parents back, but this dropped to 28% if the gift came from grandparents.
From the gift donor’s perspective, 26% expect the gift to be paid back, however just 15% of grandparents expected the money back.
Hodge has produced a set of guides on how families can navigate the tricky subject of giving financial gifts within a family, as well as the considerations and steps that be families should think about taking before a gift is given, such as is it a loan or a gift and thinking about contingencies if the family member’s circumstances change. The guides can be found here: https://hodgebank.co.uk/news/
Emma continued: “It’s clear that families feel strongly about offering financial support to each other if they are able and this has increased since the Covid pandemic. Before Covid, 23% of people prioritised helping their families out financially in the next five years. Since the Covid-19 outbreak that has increased to a third of people saying helping a family member financially had become more important.
“So, it is clear that the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent predicted economic downturn, has led to more families looking to share wealth to help younger children or grandchildren during this difficult time. Many people may look to Later Life mortgages, where many products have reduced their rates and have flexible lending criteria, to help out a loved during these difficult times.”
New report identifies the factors which will determine SMEs’ chances of a successful COVID recovery
· Analysis of the performance of over 1,000 UK small and medium-sized businesses by Allica Bank provides roadmap for SMEs
· Regular training, an openness to innovation, and a clear vision all contribute heavily to an SMEs’ chances of success
· Allica Bank has launched a programme of free workshops to expand on the findings and support business owners
Business bank, Allica Bank has combined data and insight from over 1,000 UK SMEs with a multiple regression analysis to determine what factors most closely aligned with an SMEs’ chances of success and separated the highest-performing businesses from their peers. These ‘rules for success’ have been compiled from the research data to support British businesses as they look to chart a course to post-Covid recovery.
The full report identifies six behaviours for small and medium businesses to follow, to maximise their chances of a successful COVID recovery. The six top-line rules emphasised by the data were:
Rule 1: SMEs should regularly train staff
Of the top-performing businesses analysed, 47% provided training for employees at least on a quarterly basis, compared to just 32% of other businesses. Regular employee training was linked closely to success by the model.
Despite this, many small businesses have neglected training and nearly half (46%) of the small businesses analysed only provide training for employees about once a year or less often. This included 15% that never provide employer-funded training. This discrepancy could represent a significant opportunity for small businesses to unlock the potential of their employees and thrive in the post-Covid economy.
Rule 2: SMEs need to focus on innovation and technology
Looking again to the best performing businesses, 76% were found to either continually (39%) or often (37%) be considering new opportunities for technology in their business. This is compared to only 51% for businesses considered to be outside of the top ranks, out of which only 27% admitted to continually looking for new technology opportunities.
Rule 3: Small business must have a formal, long-term vision
Nearly two thirds (66%) of the most successful businesses in the survey had a formal, long-term vision, compared to just 50% of businesses outside the top 100. Looking to the businesses that scored the lowest on the SME Performance index, only 37% claimed to have a formal, long-term vision.
Rule 4: SMEs should broaden their customer reach and find new markets
Of the top-performing businesses, 65% of these have overseas customers compared to just 40% of the worst performing businesses. Among the best performing SMEs, over a third (34%) identified international expansion as one of the top three drivers for their success.
Rule 5: SMEs need to develop reinvestment plans
22% of the best performing SMEs reinvested some of their profits into the business in the past three years with an average 9% of profits being redeployed. Tellingly, this is nearly double what other businesses admit to reinvesting in their business (5%).
Rule 6: SMEs should engage with local business organisations and networks
Of the top 100 SMEs, 30% had obtained external credit to expand over the past three years (compared to 24% of other businesses). Meanwhile, only 16% of all other SMEs had engaged with local enterprise partnerships or growth hubs in the past three years (compared to 23% of the top 100 SMEs).
Chris Weller, Chief Commercial Officer, Allica Bank, said:
“All small businesses are different, as are all small business owners, but one trait they share is an innovative resilience. Whilst the coming months and years will undoubtedly continue to present extreme challenges, there is no doubt that small and medium sized businesses across the UK will rise to meet them head on.
“To give them the best chance to succeed, though, they need to be equipped with the right tools. There is certainly no silver bullet or panacea for every small business, but as this study has found, there are a number of common factors found in the most successful businesses that allow small enterprises to thrive and that they can consider individually for their business.
“This research has identified common ‘rules for success’ that speak to every aspect of running a business, not just the financials. Once we saw these results, we wanted to use them to help small businesses begin to re-build and prosper, by outlining common factors and then examining how best they can be practically applied to businesses in all sectors of the economy.
“Small business owners and their employees have been hit hard by the crisis, but they have the drive and resourcefulness to breathe new life into the economy and bring energy to post-Covid Britain. Our commitment at Allica Bank is to give them the support they need to do so, every step of the way.”
The full report contains a wealth of additional data and insight into each of these topics. As part of its mission to empower small businesses, Allica Bank is making the findings freely available and running a series of free online workshops with relevant partner organisations for businesses to attend.
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