Banks Need to Make Mobile Apps An Experience, Not An Add-On

As more consumers embrace digital technologies for simplifying daily tasks, the banking industry is being challenged to develop mobile banking apps that are faster, more secure and more contextual. Online challengers in and out of the banking industry are setting the standard for which banks and credit unions will succeed in garnering mobile banking market share in the future.

Today, 70% of millennials say that mobile banking is an important feature for their finance experience. But, it’s not just Gen-Y! Mobile is where banking customers live now. More and more customers are trading in the traditional banking model for a more convenient online experience that is on their schedule, not on retail banks’ hours of operation.

However, even the top Internet-based banks have struggled to digitize the traditionally rigid banking system, some even asking customers for paper documentation to open a new bank account or apply for a loan. Although mobile-savvy customers want ubiquitous access, banks have struggled to provide pure-mobile services due to challenges related to security, providing always-on connectivity and replicating the in-branch experience.

Deliver Security Without Compromising Speed

One study found that nearly 50 percent of banking apps could be susceptible to a JavaScript / HTML attack that creates false log-ins. Numerous other IT vulnerabilities have also surfaced, including Heartbleed and breaches into large financial firms. It’s clear that these threats will only become more sophisticated and pervasive as enterprises move more critical data online.

Banks around the world have proposed a few solutions to this challenge as they move to mobile platforms. For instance, UK banks are showing an effort to become more secure by incorporating fingerprint authentication into their online services. However, these authentication practices are often done through add-on technology, adding inconvenient and time-consuming steps to the mobile banking experience, which may dilute its seamless, fast and interactive benefits for banking customers.

As banks invest in mobile, they’ll need to be particularly vigilant of the data being sent to and from consumers’ mobile devices. By strengthening encryption and authentication, banking apps can support better security practices and prevent hackers from poaching users’ secure banking details. But, by simultaneously investing in intelligent data distribution technology, they can also negate some of the lag time that comes naturally with added security measures.

This approach minimizes the amount of data that needs to be sent to and from an app, thereby speeding up delivery times. It does this by only sending the deltas – or changes in data – and not the full snapshot of customers’ banking requests or account profiles. As such, data distribution technology also naturally enhances banking app security, protecting data in transit by never giving the full picture for cybercriminals to exploit or steal.

Plan For Users On The Go

Although consumers would like to access their apps from anywhere at any time, that remains nearly impossible, even in countries with advanced network infrastructure. For example, given the premium price that New Yorkers pay for Internet connection, one might assume they receive the best service; but, connectivity is unpredictable in even the most developed cities.

Additionally, with the recent net neutrality ruling, service providers will now have to approach Internet access as a utility, ensuring that no content is blocked due to dividend pay-to-play fast lane connections. There may still be challenges ahead for delivery across those service lines. But, for banks looking to capitalize on the app market, they’ll still have to find ways to optimize their applications to work over whatever bandwidth is available.

This problem isn’t new for the app market – nearly half of app users will actually abandon an app if it takes more than three seconds to load – even if it’s not the app itself, but a user’s connectivity that’s to blame. Banking apps are no different, as there is already existing pressure to foster a quick and easy mobile experience for both the business and consumer markets.

To compensate, developers can minimize the amount of data needed to support banking apps’ functionality. For instance, if a banking customer wants to see their most recent account charges, they won’t need to load their entire banking history, just the previous week or even the last 24 hours. The difference is sending a few MBs of data, versus GBs. The result is data that displays quickly, even over a poor network connection. Using this approach, banks can ensure that their apps receive and load data easily, even with the slimmest network connection.

Extend the Customer Experience

Banks have historically invested heavily in the customer experience through the physical appearance of branch locations, character of its employees and responsiveness of its support staff – all to help put the customer first. Customers that still go into physical banking locations expect to be able to have tough questions answered by experts, attend to their finances and get accurate updates on their account the moment they step through the door. So, why should a bank’s mobile app be any different?

To replicate the in-bank experience through a mobile app, banks need to think beyond basic features like check balancing and bill pay to ensure the app can act as a true extension of their customer service team by providing data that is both accurate and relevant. Just as there are banking specialists with a variety of training in-store, a mobile app needs to be able to address individuals’ account needs in the moment.

In the end, the app’s performance, flexibility and the experience that it is creating for each user will determine which banks succeed in the mobile game. That comes down to optimizing security without compromising speed, intelligently processing and distributing data packages to ensure performance no matter the conditions, and integrating the app experience with customer service.


Sean Bowen is the CEO of Push Technology. Founded in 2006 and headquartered in London, Push Technology has extensive experience working on demanding real-time two-way communications requirements for leading companies in the Financial Services, e-Gaming, Social Gaming and Digital Media Sectors. As co-founder of Push Technology, Sean has has helped organizations realize the full potential of the Internet in achieving fast, scalable and efficient data distribution solutions. Sean has gained experience at some of the world’s biggest financial firms including Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, ABN Amro and Rabobank. Sean was awarded the Developing Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 for the ITC Entrepreneur Awards. Sean can be followed on Twitter.

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