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Tablet Banking

By: Michael Scheibach

Even as mobile banking continues its exponential growth, a new channel is emerging that may have even greater impact on financial institutions: tablet banking. Frank N. Magrid Associates, a research-based strategic consulting firm, reports that an estimated 47 percent of the U.S. Internet population, or some 117 million consumers, are expected to use tablets this year. And last year’s Fiserv Consumer Trends Survey found that almost half of tablet owners surveyed had used their tablets to access their banking accounts.

Adding to the urgency of a tablet banking channel is the growth of the corporate tablet market and changing demographics. Transparency Market Research sees a compounded annual growth rate for tablets at 13.1 percent over the next five years, but a CAGR of more than 18 percent for business-related tablets. Moreover, the fastest-growing demographic segments in the tablet market are the 35–44 and 45–54 age groups, with 59 percent of tablet households making more than $50,000. Once again, consumers and technology are pushing banks to deliver services across multiple channels and with seamless capabilities.

“Given the success the tablet has already had in the last two years and the anticipated growth,” said Bradley Scott, director, mobile solutions, Fiserv, “it is expected that tablets will be a dominant digital channel. Because of this, banks need to pay attention to tablets specifically as part of their strategy. A growing body of user research indicates consumers are using different devices in different ways and for different things. Users expect things like account and transaction information, and the bank’s brand to be consistent across online, mobile and tablet channels. At the same time, they expect a user experience specific to the device and the context in which it is used.”

Scott points out tablets are becoming extremely popular in large part because of their distinct characteristics that set them apart from their smartphone or laptop/PC cousins. In particular, tablets are designed to be operated by touch and gesture, unlike laptops and PCs. They have larger screens than smartphones, making them easier to read and navigate. In addition, they tend to be used in a relaxed, “lean back” posture, again distinguishing them from smartphones and personal computers. This means tablet banking must incorporate a user interface to match how consumers interact in a touch paradigm, with a larger screen than a mobile phone. It also means exposing the right features and functions in the tablet channel that are not necessarily the same ones for online and mobile.

“We don’t believe tablet is just like online or just like mobile,” said Scott. “It is a distinct channel that needs to be considered separately.” He believes that by thinking of tablet as a distinct channel requiring its own tailored user experience, banks will be able to successfully:

Perhaps the greatest issue is how to take the first step. Scott’s advice is to find the right technology partner that can help roll out a successful tablet strategy — a strategy that not only leads to an effective tablet channel but also provides an opportunity to assess and improve the user-engagement levels and functionality in current mobile and online banking channels.

Michael Scheibach is executive editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) April 2013 by BankNews Media