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Earning a Presence on Your Customers’ Smartphones

By: By Lisa Stanton

The front screen of a smartphone has become prized and privileged territory these days. The apps that reside there have inevitably been deemed critical to the device owner’s daily activities.  Alongside apps such as Maps, Facebook and Weather, robust mobile banking apps have deservedly earned a spot on this “hallowed ground” as well. It makes perfect sense. Mobile banking apps are all about money, and money is important to everyone, every day. 

Today, customers demand that their financial institutions keep up with the latest features and capabilities; according to research analysts AlixPartners, 48 percent of customers considered mobile banking services important in their loyalty decisions. A strong digital focus and a commitment to ongoing innovation will also drive in new customers, as the convenience of mobile banking applications has become the primary factor for switchers when choosing with whom to bank. If your digital strategy can solve for both retention and acquisition, can you think of a better place to invest?

Landing a privileged place on the front screen is often a greater challenge for community banks, however, which must find ways to keep up with and differentiate themselves from larger institutions with bigger budgets and greater resources. A key question must be examined: How can community banks stay competitive and continue to innovate?

Fortunately, competing in the digital age is not necessarily an unanswerable requirement. After all, community banks have many advantages, particularly in knowing their users well, which allows for a deeper and more relevant understanding of customer priorities. Community banks have the option to use their unique audience insight to differentiate their mobile offerings, give customers a more relevant and unique experience, and leverage their advantage over big banks to further differentiate.

With an engaging and feature-rich mobile banking experience, customers can continue to benefit from the unique attributes of their community bank while providing equivalent service offerings that level the playing field with bigger banks. Here are five critical success factors for community banks to achieve a winning digital strategy:

  1. Designate mobile banking as a full-time responsibility. It should no longer be considered merely an extension of online banking, inasmuch as consumers expect new and differentiated capabilities within the mobile experience.
  2. Find a qualified partner. Mobile is not typically a core competency for a bank IT team. Leave it to the experts, who have the knowledge and experience to customize around the edges.
  3. Determine the most critical mobile banking capability for your institution and lead with that. Depending on your bank, that functionality may be to address the needs of Millennials, a PFM-focus for high net-worth customers, or simply be able to deposit checks via phone. You don’t need to have everything immediately, just a solid plan and pathway that includes ongoing innovation and functionality enhancements.
  4. Establish a flexible, modular platform — whether hosted or on premise — that can grow with your service as more consumers engage and your functionality increases.
  5. Consider going beyond typical mobile banking. Produce apps that focus on mortgage lending or stock trading, for instance.

Noteworthy mobile innovation should not to be left to just the big banks. The uniqueness of the relationship between community banks and their customers will serve as a perfect launch into mobile differentiation, which in turn will result in customer acquisition and retention improvements in both the near and long term. There is no reason not to shoot for front-screen presence!



Lisa Stanton is president of Monitise Americas Inc., with offices in San Rafael and Foster City, Calif. The company is headquartered in London.


Copyright (c) August 2014. BankNews Media.