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The Time for Mobility Has Come

UK retail banks are jumping headlong into mobility. While some search for a way to get a leg up on the competition by offering the “killer-app”, most are concentrated on rolling out core mobile banking. Several banks have already planted their flag in the mobile app market. It is widely accepted that mobile banking will soon be a necessity, a commodity just as online banking is today. Banc Sabadell has been forecasting in Finextra that mobile access could become the mainstream channel to the bank for many customers.

UK retail customers are open to mobile banking and the expectation is that mobile banking will have a far more rapid adoption than online banking did; already a quarter of UK mobile Internet users now use mobile banking services. Nonetheless, many of the predictions made last year (“touch and pay”, mobile credit card, person-to-person mobile payment, overdraft text alerts, mobile money management) have not yet fully materialized.

What banks have been doing is looking for ways to leverage existing online banking infrastructure. For that reason many of the current apps are HTML-based with limited handset native functionality. The technological diversity of the market (Apple iOs, Google Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, etc.) is acting as a further anchor to banks in their decision making.

The situation is even more complicated for investment and corporate banking where banks are struggling to find a compelling business case to build mobile applications. Such applications would be directed to their corporate clients and mobile employees (trading desk managers, sales and advisory, IT support). Applications under consideration include management information reporting (especially within finance and risk), market data and research dissemination, intra & extranets, and communities.

The biggest concern for both retail and investment banking however is security. Retail consumers consider security the top priority for adoption of mobile applications; within investment and corporate banking, security concerns are acting as a stumbling block for many future projects.

What is clear though is that the time for mobility has come. The next 12 months will see the commoditization of mobile retail banking and the consolidation of the use of mobile applications within corporate and investment banking. As Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, said “mobile is not another channel, it’s the channel”.

Karl Rieder, Delivery Manager, GFT



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