Mobile Banking Applications Report 2013

BanterMob published the Mobile Banking Applications Report 2013 today. I was involved as a contributor to the report and was contacted by News.com.au BizTech “for some industry comment" for their Australian banks need to embrace mobile application users: Study article.
mobile-banking-app-review-2013

BanterMob published the Mobile Banking Applications Report 2013 today. Download a free copy of the report from BanterMob’s website. I was involved as a contributor to the report and was contacted by News.com.au BizTech “for some industry comment” for their Australian banks need to embrace mobile application users: Study article.

The report analyses more than 42,000 ratings and 2,000 reviews of Australian mobile banking applications, across the four major app stores. The study reveals high levels of negative customer sentiment and a high volume of sub-optimal customer experiences. 

NEWS.COM.AU: Why Australian banks have been slow to innovate with their mobile apps, what they can do to improve and what you think the future is for mobile banking in Australia. One of the things mentioned in the report is that mobile apps are likely to be a driver for people choosing or changing their financial institutions – do you agree that they’re that important to consumers?

My Response

  • Mobile banking is very important to customers as demonstrated by the rapid adoption rate of mobile banking services.
  • Mobile banking is very important to banks. Customers that actively use a bank’s online and mobile banking services are proven to have more products and are more likely to have their main day to day financial relationship with that bank.
  • Mobile banking will become the real competitive advantage if one of the banks or a disruptive player can bring a truly compelling and differentiated offer to market.
  • Success will be a great end-to-end mobile experience that integrates well with all of the channels customers choose when interacting with the bank – connecting traditional and digital channels… and other emerging digital channels!
  • Mobile banking is relatively mature in terms of mobile services when compared to a lot of industries and provided these services quite early in the mainstream adoption of smartphones. They also had very positive customer sentiment to start with.
  • The banks failed to keep up with increasing customer expectations. The Kano model provides a clean explanation of this process.
  • Banks are very complex organisations and have structural and behavioural barriers to overcome to deliver sustainable mobile banking services that meet increasing customer expectations. This is not unique to mobile banking.
  • Banks need to really understand and listen to their customers.
  • I believe the key to building a sustainable mobile business is to understand the value proposition and business model, and then focus on the full lifecycle of banking products and services from a customer, business and technology perspective. Getting something into an app store is the start of the real lifecycle, not the end.
  • The future of mobile hasn’t even got started yet. It’s likely the role of smartphones in our lives will change as wearable interfaces (watches, glasses etc) and more displays we can interact with become part of our lives. Digital wallet, second and third screens, voice recognition and biometrics for security, context aware services, video calls, screen sharing and other digital collaboration tools. Good personal finance management services.
  • Some barriers to progressive mobile banking services I’ve observed are: banks are complex organisations; trends can have inexplicable and sudden tipping points; time to market is generally very slow; not really understanding customers, their contexts and their needs; innovation for innovation’s sake; distracted by shinier non-core activities; me-too releases to be seen to have similar services in the market as competitors; organisations and projects are generally structured as verticals and are not conducive to end-to-end customer experiences and the full lifecycle; slow to execute principles and strategies required to adapt to the shift in customer preferences and the proliferation of devices and screen sizes and other capabilities unique to mobility devices.

I think it is a trap to focus solely on mobile banking services. There are many factors influencing customers’ decisions on financial institutions and most Australians have accounts with more than one bank. There’s no doubt in my mind that mobile is incredibly important to both customers and the banks, and is currently growing in importance. However I don’t have any evidence that this drives the decision making process for most customers.

None of the banks have clearly differentiated or are providing a clearly superior mobile banking service. This is demonstrated at a feature comparison level between banks and also customer sentiment as articulated in the report. I do believe it will become a key driver if one of the banks or a disruptive player can bring a truly compelling and differentiated offer to market. That’s the opportunity. This would need to be a great end-to-end experience and integrate well with all of the channels customers choose when interacting with the bank – connecting traditional and digital channels… and other emerging digital channels is a key criteria.

There are many reasons why the banks don’t have customer sentiment on their side. The report outlines a range of these reasons. The first point I’d make is banking is relatively mature in terms of mobile services when compared to a lot of industries and provided these services quite early in the mainstream adoption of smartphones. Mobile banking has an impressive adoption rate in a very short period of time. A lot of these mobile banking services had very positive customer sentiment to start with but failed to keep up with increasing customer expectations. The Kano model provides a clean explanation of this process.

I believe the main barrier is that banks are very complex organisations. People have different views on what mobile banking is, some see it as a direct distribution channel, others as technology, product, marketing channel or digital interface … in reality it is all of these things. Each of these perspectives has their own priorities, funding and ability to influence decision makers.

A key way to improve is to achieve clarity on what mobile banking means for customers and the bank. Understand the value proposition and business model, and then focus on the full lifecycle of banking products and services from a customer, business and technology perspective. Design the mobile banking service from the customers’ perspective and consciously integrate all of the channels the customer chooses to use when interacting with the bank. Deliver an integrated cross-channel experience. Getting something into an app store is the start of the real lifecycle, not the end. Viewing mobile banking in this context will help leaders make the right decisions to deliver value to customers and drive profitability and positive sentiment for the banks.

The future of mobile hasn’t even got started yet. It’s likely the role of smartphones in our lives will change as wearable interfaces (watches, glasses etc) and more displays we can interact with become part of our lives. I believe the next major step will be digital wallet services. Real mobile payment and POS services using contactless technologies, proximity services and integrated loyalty for both customers and merchants.

Smartphones and tablets already serve as second and third screens, for example when watching TV. I see this extending more into banking and ideally being used in a positive way by the banks to improve the experience. At some point existing technology should become part of the sales and service experience and mobility devices are a prime target. Things like voice recognition and biometrics for security, context aware services, video calls, screen sharing and other digital collaboration tools. One day as customers we may even have personal finance management services that make use of all the information the banks have about us and our financial behaviours.

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