A newly-developed Norwegian IT solution now makes it possible for Norwegian banking customers to pay bills and transfer money from their mobile phone with almost no need to key in information. Norwegian banks will be the first in the world to introduce this new technology.
"The bank of the future will be in the customer's pocket, and will be open for business wherever and whenever the customer wants. However, users want not only accessibility, but also user-friendliness. The solution we have now developed makes it three times quicker to pay a bill from a mobile phone than is currently possible", explains Ann Merethe Lysø Sommerseth, Head of Self-service Banking Channels at EDB ErgoGroup.
Smart phones and tablet devices now outnumber personal computers
At the start of 2011, the number of smart phones and tablet devices sold outstripped the number of desktop and portable personal computers. Sales of smart phones and tablets are expected to more than double by 2013. This trend places entirely new demands on how to deliver internet-based services for Norwegian consumers, and many of the solutions currently in use will have to be redesigned. This also affects traditional internet banking. A group of technology specialists at the Norwegian IT company EDB ErgoGroup has been working for some time on developing the next generation of internet banking for mobile phones. The new solution, known as Mobilbank 2, has been developed to anticipate the way that that EDB ErgoGroup expects customers to use their handheld devices looking 2-3 years ahead. The company's work anticipates the rapid spread of handheld devices. "Development work in this area is no longer driven by traditional internet banking. We now think of mobile banking first rather than the other way round", explains Ann Merethe Lysø Sommerseth.
The new solution uses graphic elements and visualisation to give banking customers an entirely new experience of mobile banking. EDB ErgoGroup has chosen to turn its back on the most widespread approach to development in this area over recent years, which has involved adapting "native apps" for handheld devices. It has instead developed Mobilbank 2 as a web application based on web technology using HTML5. This makes it possible to develop a single solution for all types of mobile phone. It has also made it possible to develop an entirely new user interface.
"We think that future trends will increasingly favour web applications. Using web applications means that the entire value chain, from customer and supplier through to developer, no longer needs to deal with a range of different applications and adaptations depending on which type of telephone and operating system is used. With web applications, the lead time from the start of development to delivery of a new product is much shorter, and the entire development process is more cost effective", explains Ann Merethe Lysø Sommerseth.
"When touch phones such as the iPhone and Android came onto the market, they changed the way we use our mobile phones. This means that banks also need to respond to the new ways these devices are used. We have paid a lot of attention to the user experience in our development work", says Ann Merethe Lysø Sommerseth. She goes on to explain that EDB ErgoGroup has now developed a solution that is at the leading edge in terms of interactive design. This technology has so far typically been used for entertainment applications, but it is also perfect for banking services.
From menus to easy selection
Internet-based banking services have made a lot of use of nested menu structures, with users clicking through the levels to find the service they want. Using new interactive design and new technology that allows " drag and drop" using the touch screen on new telephones, the number of keystrokes needed to access the service can be greatly reduced. This not only makes the service more user-friendly, but also makes it much more efficient to use.
"Testing with users has shown that services such as transfers between a user's own bank accounts and bill payments can be carried out more than three times as quickly using the new technology compared to traditional internet banking", explains Ann Merethe Lysø Sommerseth.
Usage statistics show that the 2 million Norwegian users of smart phones make far greater use of their phones for banking applications than for reading online newspapers. Users with access to bank applications from their smart phone use internet banking 3.9 times a week on average, as compared to an average of 1.84 visits to the most-read online newspaper. In view of this usage, banks can be expected to focus increasingly on technology for smart phones and tablets.
The most common uses for mobile banking are:
1. Checking the latest account movements
2. Transfers between the user's own accounts
3. Viewing payments due
4. Transaction details
5. Giro payments
As banks increasingly adopt new mobile banking technology, the use of eInvoices is also expected to grow. The new technology will make payment of eInvoices significantly quicker than at present. Mobile banking users will be able to see an on-screen list of the invoices they have received, and can simply drag the invoices they want to pay to the account they want to pay from. This will also apply to transfers between accounts.