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From mobile first to mobile best


Consumers have quickly come to expect that they can complete any task from any location—and in the last decade, that represents the most significant economic change driven by the surge of mobile technology. If it’s faster/ better/ cheaper then consumers want it. That’s especially true if it comes through a device such as a smartphone, which already serves as the consumer’s companion to inform, guide, locate and entertain.

Banking has not been exempt from this expectation. FinTech companies make it possible for consumers to get their bank account information and conveniently transfer money through venues that best suit their needs, from interactive voice response to online to mobile.

How do banks then compete? First, they need to ensure that their customers have multiple ways to complete their banking tasks, whether in-person, online or through a mobile banking application. Banks have worked diligently to close the gaps, with “mobile first” as the winning channel. A mobile-first strategy fills and captures consumer needs vis-a-vis when and where they interact with their accounts, all in real time.  

With initiatives from remote deposit capture to Bank of America’s Erica chatbot, financial institutions are increasing technology spend to provide customers the optimal resources to bank their way—and that means mobile first. According to mFour’s Millennials Insight Project, 61 percent of survey respondents said they most prefer to bank with mobile apps.

As competition increases for attention in a digital banking world, financial institutions must make more digitals tools available to avoid attrition and keep the most profitable customers. The payments sector has seen just such a rising emphasis.

Whether via PayPal, Starbucks or destinations in between, consumers want to send and receive funds in secure, instantaneous fashion. Key catalysts to the success of this phenomenon center on the control they have to move money and follow transactions.

For financial institutions, giving control to the user equals an opportunity to impact every transaction and interaction in the mobile-first age. By incorporating mobile-based tools to help users control their payments, banks that get involved in every transaction can bridge card usage and mobile services into a daily interaction: one that strengthens the customer relationship. At the same time, users can now help prevent fraud, which in turn builds even higher trust levels.

Above and beyond checking balances

Though mobile is the fastest growing banking channel, interactions with apps are often limited to a handful of basic functions. According to an April Monkey Insights report released by Malauzai Software, users check balances and transaction history 77 percent of the time they log into their banking app.

In large part, interactions remain basic because many banking apps fail to engage or provide services that provide daily value to customers. For example, opening accounts, applying for loans and bill payments often require customers to use the Internet banking portal or visit a physical branch.

By leveraging mobile-based payment controls, financial institutions can engage customers daily: before, during and after each payment. Travelling consumers, for example, no longer have to notify their financial institution, which enables them to make purchases no matter the location. Service delays will disappear, as will the freeze of a card because the user is in an out-of-the-norm location.

Consumers find this a meaningful point of contact. Processors on the back end such as VISA handle roughly 150 million transactions a day. Think about this: People use Google search or maps nearly every day. Why not use payments to build both engagement and mindshare?

“My way” payments

Chatbots changed how consumers resolve issues such as router reboots or seeking additional services. Consumers prefer this method as opposed to long phone waits that may not ultimately resolve the issue. Chatbots bring us another step closer to complete self-service.

Consumers want this type of service with debit and credit cards as well, with complete control of their funds and card functions such as activating new card or replacing a lost card. These can now be completed quickly and easily, with minimal involvement from their financial institution or card companies.

Further, consumers want personal finance tools to maximize the value of their funds. Pre-set card parameters can limit how much the consumer spends per day, where they spend and the flow of relevant offers.

Customer service plays a key part in creating trusted long-term brand affinity. Make it digital, convenient and instant via mobile. Make all service transactions digital. Send alerts to consumers so they can proactively mitigate service call initiation, and two-way alerts that eliminate customer support calls.

Mobile and the fraud protection front

Consumers also hope to combat card fraud first-hand, and that trend is gaining traction. Card controls mitigate fraud and allow consumers to turn off their card from the moment they see a transaction they didn’t initiate. This functionality benefits financial institutions and consumers as it stems the loss of funds. But there is more: It also gives customers piece of mind as they steer a process that yields a faster response time than from a bank’s fraud department.

As alerts reach them, consumers can immediately flag fraudulent transactions and manage legitimate transactions as they tag, annotate and store receipt captures, or email transactions to track what comes into and goes out of their bank accounts.

Again, consumers don’t just expect functionality, convenience and instant access as a part of their banking experience: They demand it. Banking apps can meet that demand with mobile-based payment controls, as well as give financial institutions better daily customers engagement.

And as consumers seek more control, banks can rise to that occasion as well. Those that lead the charge will capture business, build loyalty and give the term “smartphone” an entirely new meaning.

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Rachna Ahlawat is founder and executive vice president of Ondot Systems, a provider of mobile-based card services. Ahlawat has nearly 20 years executive experience in areas from product strategy to marketing and telecommunications.