Creating a great banking experience is as easy as reaching for your mobile phone

By: Claudius van der Meulen, SVP Europe at Entersekt

The way consumers spend, receive and save money has changed so drastically over the past decade that legacy banks are struggling to keep up. Things are moving at such a rapid pace that by the time a bank rolls out a “modern” banking proposition, it may already be outdated. Therefore, to future-proof the banking experience, banks should start with the mobile phone. Below are some tips on how to get it right:

Mobile-first

User experience is a key factor that can make or break an app. Ease, efficiency, and speed are essential and mobile offers the perfect medium to deliver these facets. An app should be simple and streamlined; we are constantly on the go and banking is less an occasion than an activity now. Therefore, the best apps have a mobile-first mentality, providing a logical and simply designed path to follow. There is very little extraneous “noise” – the app focuses on the task at hand.

Many top apps use icons and personalisation options, such as greetings, names, reminders, and images, so consumers can tailor apps to their needs and preferences. Other useful features include multiple mobile users on one device; alternative login methods to eliminate the dreaded password recovery process; and hands-free, voice command capability.

Payment functionality

Immediate peer-to-peer payments should be a minimum requirement of any banking app. Neither recipient nor sender wants to wait for funds to clear – managing finances can be difficult enough without having to guess when an amount will be debited or credited to their account.

Banking apps are continuously improving their self-service capabilities – moving towards enabling their customers to do everything on the app that they can do in-store, for example, account integration, cancelling cards, digital receipts, one-touch payment options, borrowing capacity calculators, and enabling cards to be used when abroad.

The challenge banks face when increasing an app’s functionality is maintaining a good user experience; preventing the app from seeming too “busy”. One way around this is to use voice banking; asking Siri to pay bills, for example.

The “fun” part

Let’s face it – banking can be boring. While it’s probably impossible to make a banking app fun, it is possible to make it less tedious by using gamification (offering points, rewards, and collectibles), icons, and animation.

Contextual unique selling points

The best banking apps should aim to improve financial health and ease any financial journey undertaken by offering contextually relevant information. A simple place to start would be to use the capabilities already present on a phone: the GPS to locate nearby ATM or branch locations, the camera for video banking, the calendar for alerts and reminders, and the contacts to populate payee details so that the user doesn’t have to.

How about a personalised banker in the pocket? An app that sends a gentle reminder when the user’s balance drops below a certain amount or if they want to make that impulse purchase, it will have to come out of the holiday budget could be very valuable in helping manage finances.

Other useful perks include secure digital storage where to store important, generally bank-related, information, so that everything is available at a touch of a button. Augmented reality for house- hunting, cardless cash withdrawals, shopping features, personalised offers and discounts, and fraud alerts also all add to an effective banking app experience.

Don’t forget the service

In the eventuality that the app bugs out, or users have a question, or don’t know how something works, consider an AI chatbot – a convenient and cost-effective way that banks are using to help with customer queries. For an even more futuristic approach, there is customer support that uses face-to-face mobile-video technology that allows consumers to have real-time conversations with their bank’s help centre.

Security

While all these features might be wonderful, this is banking, so the biggest feature should be security! This means secure data storage, secure communication, and a secure codebase to keep those pesky hackers at bay. The security behind any app is not obvious to its users, but from experience, the banks that have it nailed are usually the confident ones launching new features and experiences to delight their customers – all with security built in.

From creating a mobile-first experience to payment functionality, security or injecting a bit of fun and interactivity into the mix, these considerations will help banks create a great banking application, not just for today, but for years to come.

Author: Yash Hirani

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