With the 4G mobile spectrum auction hurdle now cleared, it is ultimately welcome news for consumers wanting faster internet on the move, but there are still questions over whether 4G will finally kick start the UK mobile banking revolution.
With increasing consumer reliance on smartphones, there are huge opportunities for banks to offer sophisticated mobile banking apps. However, Firstsource’s recent survey into mobile banking, conducted by YouGov, showed 80 per cent of UK smartphone owners
have not embraced it with two thirds not doing any mobile banking at all.
So will 4G enable consumers to make the leap into this territory? Probably not; our survey shows only 13 per cent of smartphone users cite internet speed as the biggest obstacle to using their smartphone to pay bills, transfer money or check their balance.
The biggest turn off is a fear that personal details will not be secure - over half our survey respondents cited security as their biggest concern. Yet smartphones have the potential to offer stronger authentication than traditional online banking, using
geolocation, voice recognition, built-in cameras and fingerprint readers as additional layers of security when confirming users. If banks put such measures in place whilst at the same time making security procedures easier to use, then customer confidence
in mobile banking could rise. It is again worrying that our survey shows that one in five said it is difficult to pass relevant security checks when using a smartphone on the move.
While tech savvy consumers have embraced apps such as gaming, communication, personal productivity and music, our survey shows mobile banking apps don’t quite meet this standard. One in six smartphone owners in the crucial 25-34 age group judged mobile banking
apps they have tried as not good enough. Apps should, in theory, be useful for customers by helping locate bank branches, provide mini statements and even send alerts if an account balance is getting low.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology can now be retrofitted to phones, allowing banks to embrace the possibilities of mobile phones being used as contactless payment devices. There are huge benefits for customers including the ability to bypass shop
queues and experience the advantage of electronic receipting.
However, once again, our survey found 58 per cent of UK smartphone owners were reluctant to swipe their smartphone like a credit card to make payments, even if they were able to. Again, a fear that personal bank details will not be secure is the reason given
by two thirds (67 per cent) of respondents who said they’d be unlikely to use this feature.
Banks therefore need to work closely with smartphone providers to ensure that security is given the biggest priority when developing mobile wallet apps. Measures such as compulsory PIN entry for each purchase will help boost consumer confidence in mobile
wallet security. The good news is that there is still time to get this right as not all smart phones, including Apple’s iPhone 5, have integrated NFC.
There are real concerns that the smartphone is itself a deterrent to mobile banking and our own survey did indeed show that over a third of smartphone owners say the size of the screen puts them off. But even this won’t be a deterrent for long with the
growth of tablet computers enabling customers to view rich, interactive graphical representations of their finances.
While branches are continuing to close globally, banks can’t simply rely on the arrival of 4G to ensure their customers smoothly transfer into a mobile digital world. There is a huge amount of work to be done, mainly in allaying security fears. If banks
get it right the rewards are huge, as the mobile banking channel allows banks to deal more effectively and directly with customers on the move.