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If This Is Mobile Banking

Many banks tend to view Mobile Banking as a truncated version of Internet Banking and most of them offer mobile banking only to their existing Internet Banking users. This approach completely negates the true potential of mobile - after all, if I check my account balance once a week, make one or two fund transfers per month and don't buy more than 10 banking products all my life, I don't need a mobile phone to carry out these infrequent banking activities "here and now". No wonder adoption rates of Mobile Banking are nothing to write home about and, according to the recently published World Retail Banking Report 2012, Branch and Internet Banking continue to remain the two most important channels for retail banking.

I've long held that for Mobile Banking to really achieve mainstream adoption, it should leverage Bluetooth, camera, GPS, accelerometer and other basic smartphone specs to deliver new functionality that are not possible on Internet Banking since desktops lack these things. Mobile Remote Deposit Capture, 2-way SMS Alerts and Turn-by-Turn Navigation for ATM locations are a few features that "scratch an itch" and truly differentiate Mobile Banking from Internet Banking.

When I read about a mobile-only bank account launched by Green Dot Bank, I was thrilled to find that at least one "bank" got Mobile Banking "right".

https://twitter.com/gobank/status/296336114149638144

If this created any illusions in my mind that banks were hanging on to every word I uttered about Mobile Banking "do's and don'ts", they were shattered when I heard the branch operations manager of a Top 5 Indian public sector bank tell a customer recently, "If you access banking on a PC, it's Internet Banking. If you access it on a mobile phone, it's Mobile Banking. Otherwise, they're the same". Not too happy with what he heard, the customer staged an immediate walkout from the branch. Although the manager's statement went against the grain of Mobile Banking as I saw it, I wouldn't blame her for it since the bank neither had a native mobile banking app nor was its mobile web version mobile-optimized. 

A few days later, I came across a cooperative bank that juxtaposed the words "branch" and "advanced banking facilities" with the image of an iPad in its ad. Although I had a slight problem figuring out whether the ad was for branch banking on a mobile or mobile banking in a branch, one thing was clear: Not all banks seem to share their customers' notions about Mobile Banking.

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