Use of Mobile Banking is projected to grow three fold in the next three years (Source: TowerGroup). The data traffic at AT&T (courtesy the iPhone) has grown 50X in the last 3 years. Mobile will become a key channel for customers to transact with the bank.
That said, most banks are still tip-toeing their way into mobile banking and many others view mobile banking as a subset of online banking (think about where mobile banking resides within your organizational structure. Often, I have seen this as a subset of the responsibilities of the person/team responsible for the online channel).
I have heard bankers complain that it is very difficult to get funding and prove ROI for the mobile channel. I have also heard the argument that customers don’t really want mobile banking. And finally, some say that they will evaluate the mobile channel once they are “done” with online.
Well, the truth is, that customers have been slow to adopt to mobile banking. Let us first look at some of the issues with the mobile banking adoption rate:
- Service is not differentiated: most banks offer a subset or similar range of services on the mobile as they do on the online channel. Most mobile banking applications today offer transaction viewing, bill payment, funds transfer and ATM locater features.
- Mobile browsing costs: customers had to watch out for how much data they downloaded on their mobile devices as telcos were charging for data usage by the drink. Flat fee unlimited data usage plans are becoming common now.
- Platform Usability: Until the iPhone existed, accessing bank websites through the mobile web browser was a pain in the neck. The iPhone and now the Android powered phones have made the user experience more enjoyable. Add to that, the bank specific phone apps has made the experience faster, feature rich, secure and with a better UI.
- Lack of awareness: many a times, customers are not aware that their bank offers mobile banking either through text, web or applications.
There is a strong case for Mobile Banking ROI. On the costs side, a call center transaction costs the bank $3.75, an IVR transaction costs $1.25. A transaction through the mobile channel costs the bank $0.08. So more frequent use of the mobile channel will reduce calls to the call center and IVR thereby reducing costs.
On the revenue side, mobile banking appears to cause an increase in profitability. Banking customers who use the mobile channel are more frequent users of the banking channels and are less likely to attrite. They have more Checking accounts and fewer Borrowing accounts. They are higher income levels and carry higher checking balances but lower savings balances.
And the good news is that things are changing FAST. I recently attended an ABA Mobile Banking Webcast and the ROI numbers are striking:
MOBILE BANKING ROI
Bank of America announced in Fall 2009 that it is planning to close 10% of its branches due to increased customer usage of online and mobile banking
- BoA has about 3.5 million mobile banking customers, equating to about 12% of their online banking customer base
- BoA added 150,000 new checking accounts due to mobile offering
Huntington Bank has seen
- Text bankers are 13% more profitable than the average checking client
- Mobile browser bankers are 38% more profitable than the average checking client
- DDA related inquiries to the call center have dropped by 21%
USAA has over 1 million Mobile Banking users, representing about 14% of its total clients
- 23 million logins in 2009
- Over $300 million deposited via iPhone since launch (they have the remote deposit check capture feature through the iPhone)
- Handling more contacts than IVR
What banks need to do while evaluating the mobile channel:
- Don’t Jump Into It: Do not consider the mobile channel because of the hype and it is the “cool thing to do”. Think how the mobile can add value to the customer and to the other channels.
- Think Multichannel: Some banks still consider mobile banking as being isolated from other channels or their overall multichannel strategy. The mobile can serve as an additional authentication/security channel when you login online or you get a code on your iPhone bank app that you need to enter as soon as you swipe your card and enter the PIN at the ATM.
- Don’t Think Online Banking: My needs as a customer may be different when I login through the mobile device vis-a-vis my computer or the ATM channel. The mobile is the most personal channel available yet to marketers. The layout, design and features (example remote deposit check capture) available on the mobile must be different than what is available online.
- Don’t Think Mobile Banking: Don’t think of mobile as mobile banking alone. Think of mobile as the platform for mobile financial services. The mobile will eventually evolve into a channel for funds transfers (P2P and other domestic transfers), NFC solutions like contactless payments; and eWallets that store all the cards/rewards info with integrated marketing/payment.
- It Is Never About Technology: One thing I have learnt working during my career with technology consulting firms is that it is never really about the technology. Initiatives fail not because they did not have the latest and best technology, but because they were too technology focused and failed to get buy-in or sponsorship from a business side executive.