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Mobile Banking Puts Consumers in Control


Consumers are adopting mobile banking and payments technologies at a record pace and in real-time. They’re demanding convenience, security and personalized experiences across multiple screens. Indeed, banking customers are faster at conveying what they want than banks are at delivering the goods, bank technologists confided in a recent panel discussion.

Customers are in control today – quite a transformation from the not-so-distant past when banks waited for accountholders to call them. Being passive means being irrelevant, a space no financial institution wants to find itself in. The stats tell the story. Smartphones surpassed 125 million U.S. users in 2012 and tablets are owned by more than 50 million. One-of-three minutes online is now spent on devices beyond the PC.

Enter omnichannel banking

For financial institutions, “omnichannel” banking is forging the way forward for mobile. Forget the multi-channel days when banks concentrated on converting customers to the cheapest channel and strived to achieve a constant look across separate channels. With omnichannel banking, consumers interact across all channels and can research a home loan online, discuss it over video with a local branch loan officer and arrange for automated monthly payments using a mobile banking app.

Omnichannel banking delivers more customer engagement, more contact opportunity and, ultimately, a source of future growth. It’s another example of how mobile is transforming the banking landscape, reconstructing the industry to operate on customers’ terms.

What explains this? One major reason: consumers are determining that mobile banking is easier and safer than they thought – and they don’t have to visit a branch. Aite Group researchers expect 96 million U.S. consumers will use a mobile device to access their bank account by 2016, up from 33 million last year. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 30%.

The mobile banking craze is causing banks to think differently and to innovate. They’re rushing to provide the strategies and integrated services and systems needed to create the personalized mobile experiences their customers desire – along with the necessary security, of course.

Consumer surveys have highlighted the interest in real-time alerts, location-based offers and mobile payments. Some banks are offering virtual expertise with “ask-an-expert” service via the phone. Video is gaining mainstream support as a channel for advice and interaction. And more consumers are also looking to their banks to provide other banking services. For instance, an Aite Group survey indicates that the number of people using tablets to view their banking statements will reach an estimated 48 million by 2016, up from 10 million in 2012. The number of people using their tablets for balance queries is expected to double to 55 million by 2016, from 27 million estimated for 2013, according to Aite.

In addition, banks are making it possible for more customers to receive alerts of account activity and pay monthly bills using mobile. As a result, the percentage of bank customers who will check their account balances by phone is expected to jump to 59% in 2016 from 36% today, Aite says.

What’s next? Look for banks to enable consumers to use mobile to pay for goods and services via their smartphones. Expect smartphones to interact with ATMs, offering relevant, real-time loyalty and rewards programs. Anticipate that financial institutions will make it easier for customers with mobile to manage their money via their phones.

Being attentive to customer desires, banks will act more boldly in developing a global, mobile-enabled, person-to-person payments service that will shape the future. If banks don’t provide a secure mobile platform with a consistent customer experience across a variety of platforms and devices, someone else most certainly will. Mobile has put consumers in the driver’s seat.

Mr. Brown is senior vice president and general manager at FIS Mobile, a unit of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fidelity Information Services (FIS). He can be reached at [email protected].