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Mobile...everybody's doing it?

Mobile banking has been a ‘hot topic’ in the financial services industry for some time now, with much research pointing to growing customer demand and uptake of mobile services. In fact, I blogged late last year about some Forrester research showing that mobile banking provision in Europe is gathering pace, which one would assume reflects increasing demand...

But the term ‘mobile’ itself hides a multitude of sins. Not only can mobile banking refer to anything from an SMS alert to a financial management app, it is also often lumped together with related offerings such as mobile payments and mobile money services. So where is the demand for mobile coming from, and what exactly does it refer to?

We polled over 1,100 UK adults to see which services they would use to help manage their money. The results showed that on average 27 per cent of Brits would like to use their mobiles, including services such as smartphone apps and SMS alerts. Even more interesting was that the mobile channel was only slightly behind online banking (35%), and light years ahead of more traditional communication methods such as paper bank statements (6%).

However, demand varies for different mobile services. For example, instant access to accounts through an app or mobile web was particularly high (31%) for 18 to 24 year olds, whereas SMS balance and spending alerts are more uniformly favoured by a variety of age groups up to consumers in their 50s. Similarly, demand for online banking is relatively high across all age groups, with 25 to 34 years olds representing the highest demand (42%).

It’s fair to say that we can’t generalise when it comes to this channel, but mobile banking seems to be slowly and steadily creeping up to reach similar levels of popularity as online banking. As the early adopters and true evangelists of the mobile channel (the under 35s) become banks’ most profitable customers of tomorrow, the need for convenient and instant mobile access to account information seems to be a pretty safe bet.

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Comments: (2)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 14 February, 2011, 16:45Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes


Any application adoption is a function of the amount you need to do something, and the ease of use of the app.  In previous Banking and Brokerage services I have been involved in, it was the brokerage part which had the better adoption, because those users needed to view data and transact multiple times daily.  Residential home banking suffers from the fact that people simply don't check their bank balance on a daily basis, and frankly, a SMS text from time to time is sufficient!

But make the app easy to use and you will skew the adoption in your favour.  An example might be the eBay mobile apps.  Because they are good and easy to use, they encourage the user to use it often, and therefore take control of their eBay life.  As a result, eBay gets more transactions!

We need to have apps which tempt us to do the same with our bank-life.  And yes they should be targeted at the younger consumer.  Tablet widgets and touch screen apps are the way forward.



A Finextra member
A Finextra member 14 February, 2011, 20:54Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

John - the context of your comments makes sense but fundamentally I believe that the value chain for both the bank and the customer to be fully energised then the user experience needs more than just replication of the online banking world ... checking a balance is fine but what does it mean when we take into the context when somebody makes this request and where they are when they do this ... "value added services" will become a key catalyst for consumers to want to use mobile banking services and as differentiation capabilities for the banks.

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