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Mobile banking hotting up...

News that Lloyds TSB has unveiled a newly enhanced mobile banking service, while Citibank has re-launched its online banking site, demonstrates the increased focus on mobile financial services and online banking by banks. Financial institutions are clearly recognising the benefits of investing in IT initiatives to deliver more digital banking offerings, specifically in the mobile space. Indeed, recent research from the US, has found that mobile banking is no longer just a ‘nice-to-have’ extra for banks but a ‘must-have’ feature used by nearly a third of Americans. As an advocate of mobile banking, it is reassuring to see mobile financial services increasing in popularity and moving up the agenda at bank board meetings across the globe.

However, while the investment is promising, banks still have a way to go if they want to compete with the likes of new entrants like Google in providing mobile financial services. Smartphone uptake is growing at a rapid rate and with the much anticipated launch of Apple’s new iPhone – even if it was a 4S rather than an iPhone 5 – smartphone penetration is only going to get higher. This means that consumers will expect more from their mobile phones than what they can currently deliver. Therefore, beyond providing core services such as balance enquiries, the next step for banks is to offer value-added services via the mobile channel. These can not only improve customer satisfaction but improve the all important bottom line. Many non-banking players are already taking this approach, as shown by Google’s inclusion of exclusive in-store discounts within their recently launched Wallet. This gives users an added incentive which truly strengthens the user experience and maximises the potential of mobile technology.  

Of course, you must walk before you can run and it is crucial that banks get the basics right first. However, as more banks, and non-banking players, ramp up their investment in the mobile banking space, the key to standing out from the crowd will be to provide real pioneering technology and services. This innovative approach will be what makes banks excel in the digital banking race and really turn up the heat on their competitors.  

James Richards, Director Mobile, Intelligent Environments


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