Mobile Innovation in Banking: Get the show on the road!

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Someone once said – I’d rather check my Facebook than face my Check book.  Try telling that to  40 % of heavy mobile users worldwide who check their bank balance at least once a week via mobile banking apps.  Take China Construction Bank, a global top 5 bank, as one example.  It alone has 62 million customers who use the bank’s app to keep track of their accounts, transfer money and pay bills. In fact, the FDIC has identified App-based mobile banking as the fastest growing delivery channels.  However, the majority of banks still fail to leverage the full potential of mobile apps.  Features such as GPS, NFC, phone sensors, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi location based marketing and bar code scanning data capture are hardly tapped.  When it comes to mobile enabling their employees, banks are constrained by concerns over mobile security, user privacy, and data leaks.

Banks that have gone the extra mile

The truly innovative banks are beginning to leverage the potential of the mobile with customer servicing features like virtual branch banking, cardless ATM withdrawals and NFC payments to name a few.  The industry is however still in its early days in using the channel aggressively for new customer acquisition, cross-selling, and contactless payments.   Apple Pay might just be that catalyst.

Mobile enablement of the banks’ workforce is another area ripe for disruptive innovation.   Most leading banks have launched BYOD initiatives and enabled their employees with basic remote mobile access to corporate and email applications.   The innovative banks are redefining their business processes for the mobile channel to improve efficiency of customer acquisition, servicing, upselling and relationship building.  Banks have started to develop tailored apps for their customer facing sales and servicing staff that is persona based and relevant to the line of business with real time dashboards, visualization, and analytics.  These banks are using mobility to foster collaboration, increase business insights, drive productivity and improve overall employee satisfaction.

Staying ahead of the pack

So how does a bank create a truly innovative mobile strategy for customers and for employees?

Banks could take a page from the consumer goods and retail industry a forerunner in mobile innovation. Banks need to think beyond the traditional transaction based boundaries of doing business.  Global oil and gas giant Shell for example helps customers save on time and fuel costs, with its Shell Motorist App.  Commuters can plan their journeys, find the shortest routes, calculate journey costs, and locate the nearest Shell stations. The app also offers recommendations on car maintenance by using latest Shell products, loyalty offers and discount notifications.  Coca Cola seems to have hit bull’s eye with its employee app strategy.  The service app which was rolled out to all field sales and technicians across Europe enables staff to browse and search current and previous inventory data of up to 12 months for their respective customers, latest region specific product placement best practices, training materials, videos and purity data reports.  It even helps them search and view detailed information on cooler equipment by type, facilitating efficient installation and maintenance at establishments where Coke is sold!

Putting the pedal to the metal

Mobile enabled workplaces of tomorrow are meant to make lives easier for customers as well as employees. Imagine a bank teller, walking around the branch with their iPad  and processing customer queries on the couch or at the back of the queue.  Imagine the home loan officer who can complete, process and approve documentation on their mobile device on the go, or even the wealth advisor who could show HNI clients their investments portfolio from the comforts of their homes!  These are already in place today at some banks and it’s just the beginning.  So, where does one begin in order to create a sustainable mobile strategy?   It could begin with a Mobility Innovation Workshop with cross-functional business and IT representation.  The objective of such a workshop will be to define the mobility strategy for both employee and customer facing business processes and set the mobility policy, security guidelines, and application development processes, standards and tools.  A separate internal ideation contest could provide a list of potential topics from which one can prioritize the top mobile app ideas.  Your customers can also lead you; customer focus groups could seed some very useful ideas.  Ultimately, it may be beneficial to have a separate development team that can rapidly prototype and pilot launch some of these mobile app ideas.  After all, well begun is half done.

Tags-   Mobile Banking