Banks show little progress on mobile apps

A new report has found that only a small number of leading retail banks have made significant progress in their mobile app offerings over the past year.

Swiss research firm, MyPrivateBanking, pointed out that the importance of the mobile channel is growing, and in only a few years it will dominate all other channels in retail banking.

The research however, found that most banks are not prepared for this major change in direction and they show little progress, neglecting their mobile channels.

The report “Mobile Apps for Banking 2014 – From Multi-Channel to Mobile First” analyzed and ranked more than 170 apps for private customers, offered by the 40 leading retail banks globally, including South African firm, First National Bank.

DBS Bank (Singapore) and BNP Paribas (France), ranked highest, with UBS (Switzerland) and Westpac (Australia) rated as runners up.

“Most banks are stagnating, showing an incomplete app portfolio with limited integration into everyday business processes and still treating their mobile channel as a ‘nice-to-have’,” said MyPrivateBanking head of research Steffen Binder.

“Banks do not make use of the full potential of mobile applications to engage and better serve their clients, sell their products, strengthen their brands and achieve customer loyalty.”

According to MyPrivateBanking, all leading banks succeed in providing more than just basic account information and transaction features. They offer well thought-out, comprehensive app strategies that can keep up with the best app developers in the world.

However, many of the other benchmarked banks fall short of providing sufficient content and features on their mobile apps.

The report highlights, among others, the following shortcomings:

  • Banking apps frequently offer only basic functions, missing out on more advanced features. Investment account overview is limited to 83% of banks and securities trading is still only available for about half of the banks (55%);
  • Banks rarely offer tools to encourage financial self-management and personal financial assessment. Only 19 out of the 40 banks in the report provide their clients with such tools;
  • Security and privacy are weak spots with about half meeting today’s strictest standards in access authentication for customer accounts and transactions;
  • Banks provide limited contact features. Increasingly familiar communication channels such as chat and a call-back function are only available in 10% and 38% of the mobile apps respectively;
  • Banks are weak in integrating their apps with other communication channels. 52% of banks do not link their apps to their social media channels.

“Apps are not a gimmick, but a game changer. Banks have to merge the different channels such as mobile media, personal interaction, telephone, and conventional online banking into a unified service platform,” said Binder.

MyPrivateBanking urged banks to set a ‘mobile first’ approach, since mobile apps will be the dominant client channel.

Some of the banks in the report included: ABN AMRO; ANZ, Bank of America, Barclays, BBVA, BMO, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, FNB, HSBC, ING Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Rabobank, RBC, Santander, Société Générale, Standard Chartered, UBS, U.S. Bank; Wells Fargo; and Westpac.

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Banks show little progress on mobile apps