Who Will Win the Mobile Banking Revolution?

Today, the value of the brick-and-mortar banking experience is fading quickly and mobile banking transactions are filling the void. But it seems that consumers are not so pleased with most mobile app experiences out in the marketplace, particularly with the big banks.  The basic features of account balances, transfers and mobile check deposits are expected basic functionality, but it’s not enough. Users want value beyond just transactions; customers want enriched interactions to understand what their money can do for them. The key to winning in the mobile banking space is relevance – whoever can make the mobile banking experience the most relevant to a user will win the revolution

What is relevance?

Relevance creates a personalized user experience: know what I want, when I want it, before I ask for it and make me smarter. From smartphones to wearable technology (e.g. Google Glass, smart watches, activity trackers, etc.), personal finance is interwoven into our everyday activities. Between the quantifiable self, need-to-know, and constant connectivity, our desire to be engaged with our money is increasing, changing our behavior and evolving what is expected from banks.

The experience can’t be just ordinary, it has to be extraordinary. If you simply spout numbers and balances, you’re not replacing the personalization that is eliminated when a user chooses mobile banking over their local branch with tellers. Mobile banking needs to help explain what a user’s money and transactions mean and what they can do. Users want an experience that is contextual, not just based on location, but also based on previous transactions, current account balances, and what is being planned for the near and long-term future. Banking data can be used to drive key decision points for consumers. The user expects the experience to be not only visually appealing, seamless and pleasurable, but also to take advantage of the latest technologies. Why can’t I know my current balance from my smart watch or Google Glass? A critical aspect of relevance is interacting with consumers where they prefer to interact.

So the big question is, who is winning?

Right now, it’s the startups – apps like Simple, Moven and Level. The start-ups are more nimble and are taking more risk to stay relevant. They’ve pushed beyond just a transactional experience to a lifestyle utility. They aren’t just a source of information, but are tapping into what money can help with, in a very personalized way. No one wants to see only how much they owe on their credit card. For many users, looking at a bank account is more of a source of stress. It has remained a relationship that was strictly transactional with deposits and payments. But when you help the user manage their money and look ahead at what their money can do for them, you become a source of hope.  Users want a relationship where someone is looking out for them, understanding their motivation and goals.

Solstice MobileBanking_Chart

Big banks are not out of the game yet. The new start-ups are missing years of data, historical trends and key partnerships. In order to delve into a rich contextual experience means tapping into Big Data and banking trends. So, my advice for the big banks? Put your customer and his or her experience first. Continue to innovate, rapidly iterate and bring new solutions to market quickly instead of getting stuck in analysis paralysis and letting start-ups beat you to the best in mobile banking.  Find ways that you can use disruptive technologies and a contextual experience to create more frequent and more relevant touch points for your user.

Last, but not least, the brick and mortar isn’t really dead. A true user-centered mobile experience can be a catalyst to drive a better experience across all of your channels, which is something the start-ups don’t have. The mobile banking ecosystem is still in its infancy. As it evolves, the ones to win the revolution will be those who innovate quickly and put a relevant, cross-channel user experience above all else.

 

Marisa MannMarisa Mann, Director of Solution Delivery at Solstice MobileMarisa brings over 15 years of experience in consulting and financial services industries to the Solstice team, working on large scale enterprise initiatives across many technologies, including specializing in the digital space – Internet and mobile. Mann is passionate about mobile and the endless possibilities for the enterprise, delivering business value through strong brand recognition and driving to excellence in the consumer experience. Prior to Solstice, Mann worked at JP Morgan Chase, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, Washington Mutual, Inc, and Accenture.