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Finance 2.0

Finance 2.0

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What's the Future of Mobile Banking?

31 May 2012  |  7905 views  |  2

On Tuesday I chaired the Future of Mobile Banking conference held in London. It was a great event, with a wide variety of highly qualified speakers and some very smart debate on topics including mobile banking, usability, innovation, and m-payments. What made the conference so compelling was that it came at a particularly interesting time.

Mobile technologies have changed so quickly in the last 5 years and continue to transform our lives and our businesses. Travelling to London, for example, I managed my hotel booking, checked into my flight, and boarded the plane using my mobile phone; on the plane with my iPad, I read international magazines and newspapers previously unavailable to me in Spain; when I landed, I checked train times, got a map to the hotel, checked my mail, and, oh yeah, made a few phone calls. For me, mobile technologies have made business travel far easier and more productive.

However, while we have been talking about it in the industry for quite a while, what I didn’t do was buy my train ticket with my mobile phone. In fact, I didn’t even check my account balance. Believe it or not, but my bank, one of the 5 largest banks in the world (whose name I won’t mention), has yet to provide its customers in Spain even the most basic mobile app.

My personal experience is not unusual. For example, while 23 of the top 25 US banks offer some mobile banking service, only a third of all US banks do. In the UK, only half of the mobile phones are smart phones and only one in 5 persons has done any kind of mobile banking.

So, I would contend that as of today, unlike in other industries, mobile banking has yet to go mainstream. As a person who works for a technology company that integrates user-focused mobile solutions into back-end banking systems, I can confidently say that it’s not a problem of technology - users most often cite security, reliability, and usability as key factors for adoption.

However, what seems clear is that we are very near a tipping point. Things are changing rapidly. In the last six months in the UK, for example, all of the largest 4 retail banks have released mobile banking apps for their customers (some to greater success than others) and a few have gone steps further, offering new and innovative services like person-to-person payments. In relation to mobile payments, some rollouts are now beginning and others are planned to coincide with the Olympics this summer.

The Future of Mobile Banking conference was an excellent forum to debate where we are and where we are going, and it came at just the right time. In future blogs, I’ll try to summarize some of the main comments and opinions expressed during the event.

TagsMobile & onlineRetail banking

Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 02 June, 2012, 17:26

Assuming that you can buy your train ticket and check your bank account balance via PC-Web, am curious to know if you could do them via mobile web from your smartphone / tablet. At least in the case of train ticket, the lack of mobile booking solution might harken back to deficiencies even in the PC-Web solution viz. lack of support for e-tickets and the need to print out a paper ticket from a kiosk that is not necessarily present in all stations. In an extreme example dating back a few years, I remember that a colleague of mine booked a ticket online for a train departing from London Bridge station but had to visit Waterloo / Victoria to print out the paper ticket because there was no 'Fast Terminal' at London Bridge!

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 04 June, 2012, 08:49

My point about not being able to pay with my mobile phone was driven by the lack of a mobile wallet or related technology (e.g. NFC). There is plenty I can do using mobile web, but frankly, the level of usability is so poor that there is little value to gain from doing so.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 04 June, 2012, 12:10

Thanks for clarifying. I think there are two issues here: Mobile Wallet and Usability. Since you were able to manage your hotel booking via smartphone / tablet, am curious to know which mobile wallet is supported by your hotel booking website / app. Coming to usability, as I'd pointed out in my personal blog post "Will Mobile Blogs Impoverish Bloggers?", there are as many examples of good UX via mobile web as there are of bad UX via downloadable mobile apps. The lack of mobile booking solution for train ticket might harken back to deficiences even in the PC-Web solution and I doubt if mobile web or downloadable mobile app will have any bearing on UX. 

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