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Four ways to improve mobile banking


When USAA introduced mobile check deposits back in 2009, the feature wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Perhaps the bank was a bit ahead of its time, as smartphones were just coming into vogue and consumers barely trusted the Internet with their personal information – let alone their mobile devices.

Today, however, mobile banking is on the rise, with the Federal Reserve reporting that 52% of smartphone users with bank accounts embraced mobile banking in 2014. While these growing numbers are nothing to scoff at, there’s still much room for growth. According to a recent survey that my company conducted, just 58% of mobile banking users are satisfied with their banks’ apps, as most banking apps are just beginning to enter the stage of robust user experience (UX) development. Functionality may already be in place for complex tasks, but users aren’t yet being greeted with an optimal experience.

To compete digitally, financial institutions need to stay on top of market trends, evolving alongside consumer needs and user preferences. Banks that make innovation a strategic priority and are dedicated to delivering a best-in-class mobile experience will not only gain market share, but also increase customer satisfaction and loyalty among existing users.

Here are the top four things users are looking for from their banks in 2016:

A more secure login process. In a time when we hear about hackers and security breaches almost weekly, consumers’ top priorities are additional authentication, security settings and monitoring. This is why we’re seeing the rise of biometrics and the use of Touch ID for an easier and more secure login. 

For example, in late 2015, Bank of America incorporated additional security settings into its app’s login process. Now, users have full control over whether a device qualifies for a quicker login or requires additional authentication. They can also view a list of previous account activity that includes the date, time and type of device that initiated the login. Thanks to these types of features, app users have more control of and confidence in their account security. It would be smart for more banks to follow this trend.

Expanded photo banking capabilities. Incorporating camera functionality changes the way customers pay bills, deposit checks and open new accounts and also relieves them from the burden of manual data entry. Further, this type of technology enables banks to onboard new clients quickly and painlessly, using just their drivers’ licenses and smartphones or tablets.

In late 2013, U.S. Bank partnered with mobile imaging company Mitek to expand its photo-banking capabilities. Now, customers can transfer money and pay their credit card bills with just the click of a camera lens. Incorporating photo-based features into apps benefits both consumers and banks, especially considering that the next generation of users is gravitating toward digital-only banking. 

Best-in-class customer service and communication. How many times have you heard someone complain about having to call a bank, navigate an automated phone system and then wait on hold? Banks need to move beyond click-to-dial, which can be frustrating and time-consuming for users who are trying to troubleshoot account issues. 

None of the banks Key Lime Interactive reviewed in its 2015 Mobile Banking Competitive Index Report currently offer live chat, but Bank of America is heading in the right direction with its “Tap. Talk. Done.” feature. The bank now allows its app users to specify the nature of their call and receive a direct line to a specialized operator.

Live chat is indeed something that’s slowly being embraced in other industries. For example, Discover and GEICO are leading the way in their respective fields with their in-app chat features. Having the ability to immediately resolve issues in-channel is a top priority of the customer of the future. 

In-app financial management capabilities. Firms such as Mint have pushed personal financial management closer to the forefront of consumers’ minds than ever before, but few banks offer similar experiences on their mobile apps and sites. USAA and Wells Fargo are two of the only ones that do.

When consumers choose to budget outside of their main providers, they’re subjected to advertisements and cross-selling that could steer them away from their banks. Further, banking institutions that don’t offer this service are missing out on a potentially lucrative cross-selling opportunity. To solve this, banks should provide users with the ability to budget, create financial goals, categorize transactions and manage their finances on their sites and mobile apps.

Mobile banking has come a long way, especially considering that just a decade ago, customers still had to go to brick-and-mortar banks to deposit their checks. But as the industry continues to evolve, banks must keep the user experience and customer demands top of mind or they risk getting left behind.

Ms. Rodriguez is CEO of Miami-based Key Lime Interactive, which masterminds all things usability for web, mobile, tablet and medical devices, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. She can be reached at [email protected].