Despite a tough economic climate, the vast majority of retail banks around the world are still increasing their spending on innovation, with online and mobile services seen as priorities, according to a survey from Infosys and Efma.
The poll of 300 bankers in 66 countries across Emea, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas, shows that 73% have increased their investment in innovation this year, despite budgetary constraints.
Asked why money is spent on innovation, most respondents cite attracting new customers and growing revenues - even in mature economies - while cost management and regulatory compliance are not believed to be as important.
Despite the importance placed on it, only 41% of banks have clear metrics to measure their innovation performance. Those that do measure tend to focus on revenue growth for new products and services and changes in customer satisfaction.
While there may be issues in measuring it, 70% of respondents think that their banks are becoming more innovative and 56% rate their innovation performance in channels as 'high' or 'very high'.
When it comes to spending by channel, branches receive the highest proportion of discretionary IT budget at 27%, compared to 26% for online and 20% for mobile. However, there is a consistent view across the regions that online and mobile are the most important channels for innovation.
A huge 93% expect to offer mobile payment services and 89% plan to offer bespoke tablet banking apps within the next three years. The area of fastest growth comes from innovations in value-added services such as personalised location-based offers, a space where within three years more than three quarters of banks will shift focus to, up from just eight per cent today.
Social media is another area on the radar, with 87% of banks focused on integration with sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and 86% on interactive services like Web chat, video conferencing, and click-to-call.
Patrick Desmarès, secretary general, Efma, says: "The growing focus on mobile devices and online innovation reinforces the rapid adoption of these channels. By offering increased interactivity and personalization, they clearly have the potential to drive growth."