By : Dan Weis
January 09, 2018 01:00 PM
The mobile app is becoming an increasingly familiar element of the retail banking industry, enabling consumers to manage their money with greater speed and convenience than ever before.
But does the increasing prevalence of apps necessarily mean that consumers are getting the most out of them, or that banks are doing a good enough job of realizing the huge potential of this channel?
By putting the right strategies in place, you can transform your app from an added convenience into something that is indispensable to your customers.
What do the latest figures tell us?
Recent research shows just how common banking apps have become, particularly in developed markets.
A nationwide study in the US by Market Force Information found that 79 percent of consumers had downloaded their bank's mobile app. Checking balances, looking at statement and payment history, and making deposits were found to be the most common uses of apps.
Similarly, in the UK, industry association BBA noted that consumer activity on banking apps has increased by 354 percent in the last five years.
However, it appears that there is scope for banks and customers alike to be getting more value out of their apps.
In the Market Force survey, 84 percent of respondents said they used their bank's mobile app at least weekly. While this is a high proportion, when we think about how much time modern-day consumers spend on their phones, combined with the fast-moving nature of today's society, logging in to a banking app as infrequently as once every seven days is a long way off heavy usage. Only four out of ten people said they used their bank's app every day.
Compiling figures from various sources on this topic, eMarketer referred to a poll of US internet users by AudienceProject, which found that only 20 percent of respondents listed a banking or finance app as one of the three mobile applications they used most frequently.
So with clear room for growth in how regularly customers use their mobile banking tools, what can you as a provider do to make sure people keep coming back to your app?
Make regular updates
Modern-day consumers - particularly those mobile-first users who value the convenience offered by apps - are likely to expect regular tweaks and updates from their providers.
The ability to constantly refine and fine-tune functionality, technical aspects and the end-user experience is one of the biggest advantages of apps, so FIs should be making the most of it. Prompt, efficient updates are particularly important when it comes to bug fixes.
Take advantage of new OS features
Any app that is not optimized or making the most of the latest capabilities of mobile operating systems (OS) will run the risk of feeling outdated and irrelevant, when compared to other, more innovative products in the mobile channel.
One of the best examples of this is biometric capability, particularly after the introduction of facial recognition in the recently launched iPhone X. As the use of biometrics continues to grow, consumers are becoming accustomed to a new level of convenience and security that banks must respond to.
Deliver a frictionless experience
There is a strong link between the development of biometric user authentication and consumer expectations for a frictionless, seemingly effortless mobile experience.
For FIs, the focus should be on the investment and ongoing app development work required to deliver this level of experience, without creating any potential risks or weaknesses on the security front.
Respond to feedback
Apple's App Store, the Google Play Store and other app outlets can serve as powerful channels through which to engage with your customers. People could be more likely to share their views and offer feedback on these regularly used, easily accessible platforms than via other channels such as telephone banking or in a branch.
It's extremely important for banks to show that they are taking notice of the views expressed on these forums and giving constructive responses to them. This can help to strengthen brand loyalty and provide valuable insights for the future development and refinement of mobile app experiences.