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The appification of banking

Even as traditional banks concentrate on strengthening their online and mobile channels as a viable alternative to their core brick & mortar proposition, a new breed of direct-only competitors are making their presence felt among retail banking customers. A new study reveals that direct-only is the only category in banking to gain market share amongst customers establishing or shifting their financial loyalties. It is estimated that over the past five years, deposits in this emerging category have grown three times the industry average.

Two banks made it to the innovators gallery in this year's Innovation in Retail Banking study from Efma & Infosys for their unique interpretations of the direct-only model.

The first is GoBank, from the Green Dot Corporation in the US, with its claim to being the world's first mobile-only bank. GoBank is seeking to transform the traditional checking account by reinventing it for the app generation and offering an array of features and services at a transparent price. The service allows customers to set up their accounts in just a few minutes, enables instant money transfers via e-mail or text message and also offers real-time spending advice. But in what must be considered financial sacrilege at least in some circles, GoBank also lets its customers choose how much they want to pay for the service.

French bank BNP Paribas, meanwhile, has launched its avatar of the direct-only concept, called Hello bank!, in May this year. Hello bank! accounts can be activated in four simple steps either online or on the mobile phone. The service can be accessed over a native mobile app designed to be simple and intuitive. It also offers attractive savings rates, fee-less cards and the added benefit of access to the BNP Paribas branch network. GoBank also provides interactive customer service support by chat, email, tweet or voice calls.

The mobile has rapidly become customers' go-to device of choice for almost all frequently used services. With these ubiquitously accessible devices predicted to overtake fixed Internet access by next year, more and more customers will be expecting to tap and swipe their way through their next banking transaction 


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